These days, my social life revolves around my children and their activities. The people I spend the most time with end up being other parents -- usually mothers -- who have preschoolers and kids in kindergarten or the first grade.
It wasn't always this way, of course. There once was a time when my friendships had nothing to do with playdates, school or family dinners. Instead, they were based on work, common interests and hobbies, similar schedules that allowed us to gather regularly at a pub or a restaurant. Don't get me wrong. Of course, I still have friends who share my interests. Butcoincidentally, or perhaps inevitably, they also have children who are roughly the same age as mine.
What happened to all my friends without kids? Some ended up getting pregnant and having kids, but those who didn't no longer seem to be part of my everyday world.
This line from a recent Chicago Tribune story probably explains it best: "Kids can do a number on friendships — eating up the time previously reserved for lengthy phone calls, girls' night out, basketball with the guys. When a circle of friends starts having kids around the same time, the pals tend to give each other a pass. But when one friend has kids and the other doesn't, the dynamics of that friendship get trickier."
The article points out that people with kids have completely different schedules compared to the child-free. For most parents, meeting for drinks after work is never an option when you have to rush home, make dinner, help with homework and catch up with the family. Exercise and regular workouts with your buddies also take a backseat, unless working parents and their friends are willing to get up at the crack of dawn or hit the gym after the kids go to bed. I also can't help but think that I've become kind of boring to my old friends, who travel quite a bit and seem to have a lot more intrigue and excitement in their lives.
In order to maintain friendships, it's important for both parties -- the parent and the individual without kids -- to admit that their relationship has changed, but it doesn't have to end.
The article quoted Irene S. Levine author of “Best Friends
Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend." Levine advised to focus on things you still have in common and to to make time to cultivate your friendship.
“The life of a mother is so much in flux, but before you know it that baby will be in nursery school and then elementary school and you'll have time you never dreamt you'd have,” Levine told the Tribune. “If you don't nurture the friendships you had, you'll find yourself bereft of friendships when you want them most.”
Parents: What do you do to nurture old friendships -- particularly with people who don't have children?