For most school-aged kids, school is back in session. I love seeing First Day of School pictures on Facebook and hearing or reading about parents’ (and kids’) adjustments to a new grade. This reminds me of the school cycle and how Fall gets so busy for people. It also makes me think about my own friends who have kids.
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Let’s take a step back. Right after college, a few of my close friends started partnering up and getting more serious. I went on a few dates and had a post-college boyfriend, which meant that our relationship was very grown up. We went to happy hours and baseball games, while many of my college friends moved in with their significant others and started talking about engagement rings. As I moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, lots of them were admitted to fancy professional graduate programs and I flitted around in the non-profit sector.
A few years after college, the barrage of wedding invitations started filling my mailbox from east coast friends. My LA friends were in the same position as me: living day to day and letting the sun and sand guide us. Wedding season happened for a few years, then there was a break and things were back to normal. In the next iteration, lots of travel to New Orleans, Mexico, and other cool destinations occurred and I witnessed some of my best friends tie the knot.
Since the weddings, there’s been an influx of home buying and an even bigger occurrence of pregnancy and child rearing. I’ve had the special fortune of witnessing my closest friends from camp and college become parents. It’s incredible to see people with whom I’ve lived in a cabin or dorm room now raise their daughters and sons.
In the last five years, the number of kids of my friends have has grown exponentially. If I thought attending a wedding felt grownup, witnessing some of my best friends grow a baby in their otherwise flat, fit stomachs has been a trip. As their bodies changed with progeny, so did their priorities. No longer did they have time to languish at the pool because they were preparing the nursery and reading parenting books. During pregnancies, they seemed a combination of scared, anxious, excited and proud. They tried to get in dates with their spouses, knowing that alone time finite and premium.
When they gave birth, I was always high on their lists of family and friends to call. Tired or overwhelmed, I didn’t get to see them as early as I’d have liked so I offered verbal support. Their other friends with kids seemed to have a leg up and knew just what they needed.
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As school starts up again, I’m reminded of the busy-ness of parents and how my time stays the same. I like to stay in touch with my friends and stay out late. My friends with kids follow the same school schedule as their kids because school nights are a household event. I recently got together with a good friend who has two elementary aged kids. We remarked that now her time is different than when we first met because her youngest was two and now is seven. As her kids have gotten older, she has more time to devote to her own social life and garners support from her partner. When we get together, we talk about our lives more than her kids’ lives, and she reports that’s because she (still) needs a separate life.
It’s weird because it feels like everyone has kids. There’s a movement for people who opt out of child-rearing, people who are childless or child-free. What about the people who might want to have children and simply haven’t had the opportunity to do so yet? I worry if my friends still care about me. I know priorities change as much as daily lifestyles but I often feel left out. I get on a FOMO (fear of missing out) rampage and then time spins. But one thing remains and it’s that I love my friends with kids and miss the old days. I may not know exactly what to do or how to communicate with your kids, and that’s okay. Yet I want to see you and learn. So please tell me where to be and I’ll be there.
In sum, I don’t have any weddings to attend at the moment, but have some baby showers coming down the pipeline. I’m looking forward to supporting my friends as new parents and hope to get to know their kids over the years.