I had more than my share of bad dates during my single years, but one stands out from the crowd of mis-matches: He huffed ’n’ puffed during the flat, 10-minute walk to dinner (I was training for a half marathon), he complained about the food at the restaurant I’d recommended (Who doesn’t like Italian?), and he griped that all the women in California were snobby b*tches (Um, hello?).
As soon as I got home, I called my friend and asked why she’d set us up. “You’re both single,” she said.
After a couple of deep breaths, I gently suggested that she raise her standards. Perhaps in the future she should find out if I had anything in common with the random, eligible bachelor of her choosing before handing out my phone number.
Sadly, I was reminded of this during a recent ladies’ lunch. I was seated next to a woman I hadn’t met before and launched into standard getting-to-know-you questions—job, hometown, connection to the hostess. She was nice enough, but it was soon clear we had little in common…except we were both childfree, the only childfree women at the table.
I looked up from my seat as the other women laughed over toddler antics, compared poopy diaper horror stories, discussed the pros/cons of various baby carriers, and exchanged knowing glances about the challenges of sleepless nights with newborns. In all fairness to the host, I don’t believe she placed us childfree women together on purpose; it was more that the mothers were drawn to each other. But that didn’t make it any easier to bear.
I certainly understand the need for mothers, especially new mothers, to get out and socialize and to be able to get information and support in their new roles. Had I known what I was walking into, though, maybe I would have bowed out of the lunch. Maybe I could have risen above it and made another stab at finding common ground with my seat mate, but I felt so downtrodden, so invisible, that I just couldn’t muster the courage to make the extra effort. I also didn’t want to talk about being childfree; I’m mostly over it.
What I had looked forward to that day was getting out and talking with women about all sorts of issues, things we could all relate to. Maybe moving forward I should only accept invitations to after-work drinks. I’m thinking not a lot of new mommies will make it out for that, and I’ll be in more amiable company.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She still looks for the good in people.
I met one of my dearest friends seven years ago, through a mutual friend who introduced us solely on the fact that we were both single and had no children. No I won’t find a lifelong friend every time that happens, but I do take advantage of it. I meet women every day who I enjoy and who I have TONS in common with but because they have children at home, there is no available time-slot to “insert me” into their lives and we never manage to get together again, despite the desire and the attempts. I am happy to weed through the childfree women I don’t have anything in common with, just to find those few with whom I do. They are more likely to have the time to cultivate a real friendship with me. – At least until they have a baby 🙂
Pamela M Tsigdinos (@PamelaJeanne) says
Groan….when it comes to how one dimensional people’s views can be. My filter for socializing became a lot more refined during the worst of my coming to terms experience, but that didn’t stop the occassional “serenity, now” moments around the mommy crowd. Fortunately, many of the women I know today are well past the pregnancy and toddler stage. There truly are some really good aspects to aging…
You said: “What I had looked forward to that day was getting out and talking with women about all sorts of issues, things we could all relate to. Maybe moving forward I should only accept invitations to after-work drinks. I’m thinking not a lot of new mommies will make it out for that, and I’ll be in more amiable company.”
Or, you could move out of the city and try living in the country. I live where there are only 4 neighbors for miles before you hit town (pop. 500). On my gravel road we have 3 happily married childfree couples. One couple is in the 90’s retired dentist and scientist, the second a retired builder and saleswoman in their 50’s and the us in our 30-40’s.All of us are happy farmers living the rural life. We get together once a week to socialize. We also have church, town meetings and other town events. We don’t dwell on not having kids, we have that in common. We do dwell on hay and beef prices, gardening problems and living off the land. This holiday we attended 2 huge parties and both were child free. Adults talking about politic, farming, hunting and life.
For us, we got out of the rat race of the city and bought something we both enjoy doing. We are surrounded by others like minded. It is a HUGE burden off our minds. We wake up thinking about the farm, instead of cocktails mixers and fertility clinics.
There is so much more to life than just having kids. And living in the city there is a ton of pressure to reproduce and be ” a normal couple”. Since moving here, country people are more observant and respectful of others. They noticed we were child free and do not pry, just accept and move on.
My husband and I have learned new skills, talents we never thought of in the city.
Perhaps you could use a change of venue. Might find what you are looking for. Best of luck 🙂
I don’t know what kind of function you were at, but it does sound pretty horrific. And sympathies on the date! Sorry, no words of wisdom.
I can relate to that feeling of invisibility! I’m currently writing about the challenges of dating and finding community as a childless, single woman over the age of 40 here:
Ooh, good post. I came over from your reference to La Belette Rouge (yes, she has come so far and I love to see it too). I’m childfree, in my case by total lack of interest and choice (I just never developed interest in lot of “woman roles” stuff, who knows why) but I also find all female gatherings really challenging. If they are business events, then we have that to discuss, but for social things I see the same thing, and feel the same disappointment that there don’t seem to be issues, interests etc. to discuss outside of the child and home area or diets. I’m not anti children – I don’t want to hear about anyone’s home decorating or weight obsessions either (e.g., I totally want this awesome chandelier, and I want our living room to look just like the one in this magazine, and OMG I am so fat – this month I’m a size 6 and I’m so totally fat..)! Maybe I’m not actually female? Don’t you hate that we end up questioning this way when we don’t totally conform to gender or life-stage expectations?
I completely agree and sympathize with these sorts of events. It’s mostly the reason I’m here at wordpress…to find other women with other interests in this life. I understand that when you are a mother you enjoy sharing stories about your children with other mothers. But when did you stop being a women as well? Why is it that the kids are the only topic discussed? Don’t you have other joys in life? Others things you know about? I dread the 3 upcoming baby showers next month…as I’m the only woman attending without children…oh joy! Can’t wait to feel like an outcast!