So, mum friends are amazing; that is a given. From pregnancy piles to sleep-deprived suffering, they get it. If you want to talk nappy-explosions, mastitis or weaning, bemoan your stubborn mum-tummy or ask advice about the tantruming threenager, these are your women. But every now and then it’s great to spend time with someone who can wear unsensible shoes, who goes out into the ‘real’ world on a daily basis, and who doesn’t have a favourite episode of Paw Patrol. Every mum needs a child-free friend. Here’s why:
They don’t want to talk about kids all the time. And who can blame them? They love your kids, but they don’t care about the mundane little details that mum friends can dissect for hours over coffee and cake. The child-free friend is not interested in how many poos your child has done today. They couldn’t give a fig about what little Megan did at Rainbows, or how William has had a phonics-related Eureka moment. So you get to talk about things other than the kids. It’s a relief, a release, and a necessity. Who doesn’t need a blinking good gossip from time to time?
They are enthusiastic baby sitters because it is a novelty for them. They will play games, push prams, read stories, and buy sweeties, safe in the knowledge that they don’t have to do this all the time. Watching Dora is a new experience for them, and your kids miraculously do everything they say. Bear in mind that they are often so over-enthusiastic with the fun that the place gets trashed, but I’ll take that any day for a free babysitter. All hail the child-free nanny.
They know loads of stuff that you don’t. Useful stuff. You know when you are so tired that you can barely function and you’ve got the Peppa Pig theme tune on loop in your brain and you are vaguely aware it is your anniversary soon and you should probably book somewhere but you cannot remember a time when you sat in any food outlet that didn’t have a soft-play? The child-free friend knows just the place! Child-free woman can pop to the cool new Thai place at a moment’s notice, their evenings can be spent at bars and gigs as their whim takes them, and as a result, when you do get a night out, they’ve got it sussed.
They knew you before. When you have kids, you’re in danger of being defined as ‘So-and-so’s Mummy’, and as wonderful as being a mother is, it’s great to spend time with someone who remembers a time when you had a life of your own. Your child-free friend loves you for you, they think you are fun and interesting in your own right, regardless of how many small humans you’ve popped from your nethers. This, to me, is refreshing. When I am with my child-free friends, I sometimes find I become temporarily more fun, so caught up I am in their opinion that I’m pretty great, actually, even if I now have a cumbersome mum-handbag and can’t walk in heels any more.
You can live vicariously through them. So the small humans have you under house-arrest most nights from 7pm and you’ve binge watched Orange Is The New Black and you’re all out of Netflix options. Call the child-free friend for a soundbite of how the other half live. Maybe they’re on their fifth glass of bubbly at a swanky gallery opening, or smashed in a cab on a random Tuesday on their way home from a Tequila bar. Perhaps they did an impromptu (gasp) date with their significant other and are strolling hand in hand by a river having grown up conversations and being all windswept and romantic. You’re not jealous. Even if you are up to your eyeballs in dirty washing and the highlight of your day was descaling the steriliser. It’s great to hear the happy ramblings of your munchkinless mate, and the clatterings and beepings and bustlings of the world you’re now reminded is out there, even once you shut your door and settle down with the baby monitor.
They put up with you. They know you come with baggage now, and they dig that. They accept that you might have to cancel plans at short notice due to babysitter issues or chicken pox. They don’t mind that your wild and crazy exploits together are now reduced to a hastily grabbed hour for coffee and catch up, and that if they want you to be somewhere important with them they have to book you in months in advance for logistical reasons. They laugh affectionately when you flake out early, or slur embarrassingly after your second gin and tonic. They accept that on entering your house there is a significant possibility they will get weed/puked/drawn/climbed on. They will always be there, because they love you; the you you are now as well as the you you were then. This needs celebrating. The child-free friend is truly a keeper.
To my brilliant, well-dressed, unstained, non-judgemental, flexible child-free friends: thank you. Thank you for not ducking out on me when the small humans arrived. Thank you for loving my kids and keeping me sane. Thank you for being hilarious and interesting and caring and cool. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to take an occasional break from mumdom. I wouldn’t swap my life for yours, but I am incredibly happy that my life has you in it. Don’t go changing.
Originally published in June 2015 on www.selfishmother.com – I love these women, check them out.