When you’re pregnant, you expect things to change in your life after the baby is born. I knew my social life would change, but I had no idea what truly happens to friendships after you have kids. These splits can catch you off guard since they aren’t usually noticeable until your child is mobile.
The first obvious split in friendships is the split between those with kids and those without. Yes, you will still have some friends without kids that are cool with hanging out with you and your kids, but it’s rare. Many times, you will only get to hang out with those friends when you decide to fork out the money for a babysitter.
You can dance around this kid/no kid split when you have people over to your house and your friends understand that after your kids go to bed at 8:00, the party either needs to quiet down or move outdoors.
If you and your kids are invited to a friend’s house, and they don’t have kids, be aware that you will spend a good chunk of the time trying to keep your kids from destroying their non-kid-proof home. You’ll have to leave early or deal with a hellacious bedtime from veering so far off schedule.
The next degree of friend splitting is the age of your kids. If your before-kids-BFF had a kid 5 years ahead of you, they will probably hang out with other families that have the same age kids as their oldest. Sure, you will still get together once in a while and have fun, but the child 5 years older than yours will probably complain about how bored they are hanging out with your toddler.
The most painful friend splitting is the split between friends with different parenting styles.
Some parents are the watch-dog parents that watch over their kids making sure they obey the rules and can correct any bad behavior before it escalates. An example of this would be a group of moms gathered on the floor and chatting while their kids play together around them. The direct opposite of this would be the free-range parents. An example of this would be a group of moms sitting inside chatting while their kids play outside unsupervised.
When these two groups get together, the watch-dog parents will be outside watching all of the children while the free-range parents enjoy their kid-free time indoors. The groups tend to get frustrated with each other and thus, the split.
I know it may sound all grim and sad, but in reality this process connects you with amazing friends who are doing life just like you with similar aged kids. Your kids will hit stages at the same time and you can help each other through the parental challenges that come along with each stage. Hanging out with friends who totally “get you” is very refreshing.
I honestly don’t know how I could get through motherhood without my best friends. We have similar aged kids and take turns lifting each other up when times are hard. Because we are all so busy chasing our kids around, most of our conversations happen via text message. It may take us days to finish a simple conversation, but that doesn’t make it less meaningful.