Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I'm Not Your Thoughtless Childfree Friend

You know that character, right? The shitty childfree friend who keeps sending invitations to my friends to rub it in their faces that they can't do the exciting things I can do because WOO! I'm a DINK with disposable income! The one in all the articles that go viral about childfree women being thoughtless and inconsiderate of their friends with kids.

I'm not that woman. I'd wager that most of us aren't that woman. These articles and blog posts are giving us a bad rap and it's my turn to clear a few things up. 

If I send you an invitation, it's because I want you to come. Period.
Yes, I know that money's sometimes tight, but maybe you're ready to splurge on a night out. I want you to have that option. Yes, I know that finding a sitter is hard, but maybe that night it wouldn't be? Maybe this is a time you'd go for it, or maybe this time it wouldn't even be a big deal for a weekend at Grandma's.  It's worth a shot. Wouldn't I be a bigger jerk if I stopped sending the invites and just presumed you'd never want to come? Please, don't read into it.

I don't think you're a loser if you say you can't make it, for whatever reason. 
If you think that's where my head's at, then there's some serious projection happening. Give me the benefit of the doubt. Presume I had good intentions in inviting you, because I did. When my friends with kids decline an invite I don't think of it as anything different than if someone else says "Sorry, I had other plans". Sometimes I decline plans because I just don't have the energy to be social. You're allowed to do that too. You don't need a "good" reason.

I don't think you're jealous of my life any more than I'm jealous of yours.
The stock response from childfree people when they see parents ranting about their friends who don't get it is "you're just jealous." First off, that's a shitty thing to say to someone, so seriously CF people? Knock it off. You're making us look like inconsiderate assholes. Maybe there is some jealousy there. Like you never have any "grass is greener" moments, maybe not about kids, but about other things. 

I don't think I deserve to be sitter-worthy every time I have an event.
But maybe, just maybe,  this time it'll be doable. I know you have priorities that don't include playing board games  and drinking cocktails all night. THAT IS GOOD. Your kids SHOULD be your priority. I expect your kids to be the priority, but I also think you should be the one to make the decision how you want to spend your time. I know I'm just one of multiple options.

I don't want you to feel bad that you keep having to decline.
This is the hardest part. I don't know if my invitations make you feel bad unless you tell me. You see, my friends who communicate well tell me that they appreciate the thought. If you don't appreciate the thought, tell me. It's cool. I don't want to be a thing on the list of things that your life obligations keep you from addressing. I'm just trying to remind you that my door is open, but I can do that without sending invitations.

I know our friendship has changed… and I'm sometimes sad about that.
But there's a difference between feeling sad about that and being shitty about it. I bet you miss having friends high on the priority list sometimes too. But I don't resent you or your kids. I'm not mad at you for changing. I'm proud of you for changing, for being a thoughtful mom and putting you child's needs ahead of your social needs, especially when it's hard.

I may not understand, but I understand. 
They're your shoes, not mine. I'm never going to appreciate the depth of your devotion to your kids, or the depth of your exhaustion after a day of work and parenting. But I also won't pretend to. What I can do is empathize, and be there for you even though sometimes you can't be there for me. I'm okay that things are a little more one-sided now. Talk to me. Vent to me. Cry on my shoulder or tell me that tonight you just CAN'T. We're still friends.

This is all a part of friendship. Friends give each other the benefit of the doubt. Presume I have good intentions and that I want to help support you, and I'll presume that unless you tell me we're not cool, you're not rejecting my friendship when you say no. If what you need for me to be supportive is a little distance, that's okay. Just communicate with me. If invitations make you uncomfortable, say something and I'll be more judicious about the events I invite you to. If you're too exhausted, I never want you to feel like you can't tell me no. Will I be disappointed? Well, yeah, probably,  and you'll probably be a little sad you have to say no, too. 

We're not all that different.


Anonymous said...

A thousand thanks. I needed to see this to feel I wasn't alone. 49, married and childless, surrounded by friends and family with kids, feeling very lonely. I would love to see more posts on how to navigate these shores. I never knew friendships could be so hard due to this difference, and having a hard time with all kinds of invitations - theirs (I'm sorry, I can't fake interest in the endless kiddie birthday parties/baby showers/recitals/et al), mine (trying to recognize that it is very hard to always find a sitter). Do I sould bitter? I know, so wrong....

Anonymous said...

If you really want to be a considerate childfree person you shouldn't refer to having children as "breeding."

"Breeding" implies the reproduction of purebred pets and livestock. Normal people never use it. You'll never hear "We are waiting to breed until after our careers are established" or "With our ages we started trying to breed right away."

Just an FYI

Loo said...

I find that myvfreinds with kids think I do nothing and can drop everything for them. They let me down at their last minute, don't call me back when they were the ones making the initial contact. Then by using their kids as the excuse I have no come back. I would love to say how inconsiderate they are but feel zI can't because of their kids.

Stasha said...

For what it's worth, I have friends with kids who say they've spawned, they've bred, etc. My old tagline wasn't intended as a negative, but I totally see your point and there's no need to do things that are hurtful when it's easily changed. Thanks for voicing your concern.

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