I’m currently on holiday with a group of girlfriends, celebrating a 40th in exquisite style. They are women I have loved for a decade; we’ve travelled the world together, weathered storms and dispatched quite literally too many glasses of rosé to remember. From both a statistical perspective and in comparison with my regular life, we make an unusual group, because out of the five of us, I’m the only one with kids. By 45,
Gosh, how interesting that YOU sort of feel like the odd one out, if I read it correctly. I’m 49 and a non parent (I struggle with both of the terms ‘child free’ and ‘child less’ - one far too celebratory, one far too desultory!) and I feel very much the odd one out - I think all but one of my female friends (at least the ones in my age group - am 49) are mothers. I have some younger friends I’ve met through creative stuff but my oldest, dearest ones - all but one, mums. Sensitively written I thought (to be honest I was bracing myself, motherhood has so often felt like a not so little at all clique of which I - gasp! - wasn’t a part , though yes that’s changing of late). I thought it was nice that you acknowledge that you haven’t been there for major things in their lives as well as vice versa - all too often those of us who aren’t mothers feel pressurised to keep abreast of friends’ children’s growing up, remember birthdays, blah blah, with no reprocity. Because the narrative (as well as the truth , often) is that Mums have the monopoly on being busy. For a while I worried that I would be seen as bitter if I didn’t buy every single newborn a present (I did a LOT of ivf which never worked - i think because I actually never wanted to have children, I just assumed I should) but then I got real and did it when I managed it and didn’t sweat when I didn’t. My very best friend sent me a toy in the post - all the way to Serbia - for my newly acquired dog - and i thought that was both wonderfully thoughtful and actually , a no brainer, after a totally no secret 10 rounds of ivf you’d think people would have thought to make a fuss of MY new family addition! But don’t read that wrongly - I was chuffed to get the present, but I wouldn’t have thought twice not to, which I think is how everyone feels about attention to offspring, it’s a bonus, isn’t it? Like - our friendship with each other is the main event, anything else is a bonus. I mean sometimes that bonus involvement with the children of friends happens naturally and adds to everyone’s lives but in my case, it often doesn’t. I live between 3 places geographically and have elderly parents in two more and a dog who for various reasons it’s hard to leave, blah blah.. like everyone, life just doesn’t have enough hours in a day. I’ve often in the past felt guilty at not making more effort - until I realised it would be unsustainable - I have too many friends, they have too many children! ;) I try, but it’s not a priority for me just as I don’t expect my ‘stuff’ to be a priority to them. I love connecting with them when we can, and as you said, yes there are differences in priorities etc but there are so so many commonalities too. Nice article, thank you!
Love this perspective and I very much cherish my friends who aren't mothers. There is something so beautiful about having very different friendships and ones in which their focuses are different than our own. This was like a love letter to your friendships!
‘It is easy to exclusively lean into communities whose days look so very familiar to our own. But easy is rarely the right choice’ - lovely way to put it (and so true!)
I felt compelled to comment as this is my exact situation so can massively relate. I had a feeling it went against the norm which your stats have confirmed (I’m sure it can feel equally as isolating either way). But the time spent with my friends when we do get together is always always worth the extra effort! Thanks for writing about and sharing your experience with this. X
A wonderful piece of writing, I enjoyed this, thanks
A perspective I think I needed to read! Thank you for sharing :)
I loved reading this so much. Thank you for your words.