When you become a mom, remember to hold onto your childless girl friends, because more than ever, they will be worth their weight in gold. That's right, most of us new moms ditch those single gals, whose priorities are now so different from ours. But in spite of the radical lifestyle differences, accompanied by the misconception that we must run headlong into the nearest circle of new moms, it won't be long before we learn that our childless friends still have so much to offer...
After two years as a mom, it has finally dawned on me that my interactions with mom friends is at best frustrating (at worst hurtful), whilst interactions with childless friends continues to be satisfying. With childless friends we can finish a conversation and enjoy one another's undivided attention, whilst with moms I'll be halfway through a sentence before noticing that I'm talking to myself, as mommy has just been distracted by toddler. I have a toddler too, but unless she's in immediate danger I tend to let her do her own thing while I converse with the adults (maybe that's the French in me, for those who've read Bringing Up Bebe).
In spite of becoming a mother, I continue to enjoy (and need) the experience of getting completely lost in a conversation, and unless I see blood or an eyeball rolling my way, the person with whom I am conversing will continue to enjoy my undivided attention.
Well I must be the only mother to retain this desire to feel connected to other people, to hold eye contact, and to listen and respond in conversation (you know, the way childless people communicate), because this has not been reciprocated by other moms to whom I once related as friends. All too often these moms will enter a conversation with just half their attention and will only ever be half listening. Before I've completed a sentence they'll lurch toward their toddler who did nothing, and I mean nothing, to warrant the distraction other than move from one end of the living room to the other. Because believe me, nine out of ten times, the child is doing nothing to harm themselves or others, and could be left happily to play with my child whilst the adults interact. I don't know why not one mom with whom I've had a play date gets that.
All too often we moms complain about how lonely and isolating new parenthood can be, and are advised to seek solace in the company of other moms. I can only say that an afternoon of broken sentences with a distracted individual only serves to amplify my dysphoria and sense of isolation. On the other hand those wonderful childless friends give me just the fix of meaty, social interaction that I need to sink my teeth into. Conversations flow, points are made, jokes are told and punch lines are reached. And all this with my kids in the room!
I respect my friendships as much as I need them, and just like I wouldn't want to be distracted from the last chapter of a good book, I wouldn't want my toddler to unhook me from a juicy conversation. Why other moms don't appear to feel this way, I don't know. Maybe they genuinely believe that if they remove their eyes from their child, even for the duration of a sentence, disaster will strike. Perhaps I simply lack maternal instinct for not being compelled to jump, jerk, twitch and tic every time my little darling so much as glances in another direction. Or perhaps I am so terribly boring that they hide behind the child as an excuse to not have to properly interact with me. Either way, I regularly come away from time spent with moms feeling deflated and rejected, but from time spent with childless friends feeling invigorated and renewed.
Having said all this, being blessed with children is a gift and I wouldn't wish a person to remain childless if they didn't want that. The point is, it seems to be a rare and special person (I know two and hopefully they know who they are) who retains good social skills after becoming a mom. The rest, sadly become very good at making you feel rotten, and are best 'enjoyed' in small doses.