By Maybe Lady Liz
Last week, I texted one of my girlfriends, trying to throw together a last minute Sunday night dinner with her and her husband. When she responded that they already had dinner plans with two of our other friends, but that we were “welcome to tag along”, I was a little taken aback. I couldn’t imagine why we hadn’t been included in the first place, until later that night when I saw some inside joke exchanges on Facebook about chromosomes. My girlfriend was newly pregnant, and I realized she’d reached out to the other pregnant woman in our group, because she wanted to spend time with someone who was going through the same experience.
It was my first glimpse of being locked out of the Mommy Clubhouse. Up until now, it had always been the other way around. My group was still very active, going out every weekend, and the first person to get pregnant in our group had been the one left at home. Now that more and more of them are starting to have babies, I’m realizing that my husband and I may be the ones left home alone while everyone else attends each other’s kids’ birthday parties, mommy yoga classes or family-friendly barbeques.
Parents seem to have this glamorized picture of the Childfree as partying every weekend night till the wee hours of the morning and then sleeping off our hangovers all day long on Sunday. Admittedly, part of the reason they have this image is because it’s the one being loudly and proudly portrayed on the Childfree blogs and forums. But that’s not really what I’m after. All I want is to be able to spend time with my friends. If that means tame dinners in, or board game nights in lieu of clubbing, I’m all for it. It just hadn’t occurred to me until last week that we might be excluded because they think we don’t want to give up the bar scene. Or worse, that we no longer fit in.
I don’t begrudge my friends the lack of an invite to their dinner. They’re sharing a life-altering experience together and some bonding is bound to take place that we can’t really participate in. And of course, it’s only natural that certain members of a group have smaller gatherings from time to time – everyone can’t be invited to everything. What scared me was not knowing if this was a one-off, or just the tip of the lonely weekend iceberg.
Maybe Lady Liz is blogging her way through the decision of whether to create her own Cheerio-encrusted ankle-biters, or remain Childfree. You can follow her through the ups and downs at http://www.MaybeBabyMaybeNot.com.
When I was in my 30s and my friends started having babies, I was surprised to see how excluded my husband and I were from their lives. I thought I would be that non-relative auntie they would grow up with and love. Not so, they only wanted to interact with other people who had children. After a few years of trying, I recall one Saturday I found out they were all together for a BBQ and we didn’t know anything about it, I was really hurt. It didn’t help that I had been trying to get pregnant for a few years unsuccessfuly. It also didn’t help that my friends who had children also had some difficulty conceiving and several miscarriages and I was there for them, but they were completely unavailable to me and had total amnesia about what they went through. They didn’t call when I had a miscarriage, they made flippant remarks to me about “trying”, and when we hadn’t adopted by our 40s, they made comments that assumed we didn’t really want children. Liz, I don’t know your friends but if they are like mine, this is the tip of the iceberg. There is one couple that we are just no longer friends with at all because I have so many hard feelings toward them. Another couple came back into our lives when their son turned 8 — the wife made a sincere apology for being so insensitive and we are friends again. Anyway, during the time we lost our friends to pregnancy, we looked for new friends and found several in their 50s without children, to do things with. My husband and I also rekinkled our friendship with each other and, after infertitlity, it really saved our marriage.
Wow! This is exactly what I thought too! My friends all made a big deal of wanting a community around their kids and I was so excited to be included and looked forward to continuing to be a part of their lives along with a new role as honorary auntie.
And it never happened. The circles closed up. They only interact with other “families.” I could listen to poop talk for hours, but since “I just wouldn’t understand” I’ve been excluded. Actually, I don’t even think it’s purposeful exclusion anymore, I just don’t come up when they’re planning things. I was taken up on an offer to babysit once.
It really hurts. And it sucks to have been there during pregnancies and miscarriages and then get *dumped.*
It is extremely hurtful when friends who get lucky disappear and its not nice to be on the receiving end. I always ask everyone to things so they can decide for themselves if they want to attend so I don’t get accused of leaving anyone out as I have been on the receiving end of that and it hurts so why would I do that to others?
It just blows doesn’t it. I personally know people who don’t send Christmas greetings to those without children because they assume childfree people don’t care about seeing their kids pictures anyway.
I’ve never been much of a clubber so why the heck do people think I’d rather be out partying instead of hanging with other families. Because yeah, the clubs are full of 40ish couples just dying to make friends with other hard partying . . . twentysomethings? THAT’S the life I want. My husband and I are a family, albeit a much smaller one than theirs.
As I griped about yesterday, one of our child free couple friends is now expecting. I should have been happy for them immediately. But I’ll be honest and admit that my first thought was “well, another one bites the dust.” Our world suddenly shrank.
However, the other reality is that participating in “couples with children” events is that you’re likely going to get stuck discussing diaper blow outs, laments about sleepless nights, and all the various things they are dealing with. If your family and friends aren’t well rounded people who can find other topics to discuss you might prefer to spend the night alone after all.
Still, it stings to find out that you weren’t included and only invited as an after thought. And especially for Maria to have EVERYONE attended a BBQ and didn’t think to invite you.
We were excluded from a family halloween event once. Everyone in this large family gathered for pizza, candy and fun. It hurt that they didn’t care enough to want our presence. It was hurtful to see photos (on facebook) of our nieces and nephews in super cute outfits that we weren’t invites to see. I almost feel like I need to have a baby doll to dress up to use as admission into these events. In this day and age of impersonal e-vites, texting and FB certainly someone could have extended a very un-awkward invite which we could have quietly and politely declined or surprised them and showed up.
I feel your pain. I remeber the first time a couple from our group had a party for their son who was turning 2 or 3 at that time and my husband and I weren’t invited. I only found out because I happened to be at another friend’s house (who has a child) and she asked if we were going to the party. I blew it off to her, but then I cried on my home. It hurt. I did buy a gift and asked if she would take it when they went, I didn’t even get a thank you for the gift from the boy’s parents. It still hurst when the birthdays of our friend’s children come up and I see pictures of the parties on Facebook after the fact and we weren’t invited, but I am trying to let go for the sake of our friendships. I have to tell you, it isn’t easy.
Our group has become so fragmented. I have to admit, I am partly to blame. I found myself pulling away after the above incident. I realized that my husband and I were no longer part of the group. We didn’t share the same expirerences and we never would. Even if we had adopted, we wouldn’t have the pregrancy stories or a birth story. Infetility just sucks all the way around!
For the most part, my friends with kids have fallen off the radar…. I make new friends without kids, or friends with older kids, and I have a few who did not become fully overwhelmed with motherhood and still have other interests, or have remained loyal to our friendship. People with kids seek out people with kids, first because they have issues/ideas/worries that they can bounce off of each other more easily with other parents, second because when they take their kids along, their kids have other kids to play with.
That’s what I do I have made myself some new friends away from the 20 through 40 age group but the worst decade is the 30s in my experience and I am looking forward to turning 40 as not many people have babies or get married then but there will be the arrival of grandbabies which will be a challenge I should be well prepared for!
I can totally relate to your “mommy clubhouse” phrasing. We used to be part of a small group at our church where 4 or 5 couples had young children…and then there was us. Part way through our study sessions, the kids (who generally played in another room) would need something or other, and one by one, the moms would disappear into said play room, rarely to return during the study time. Rather, after the childs’ needs were seen to, they stayed in the other room, chatting, laughing, comparing stories, giving advice, etc. So, it usually was just the guys and me. Awkward. I do not doubt that the kids did need something, and that the moms were doing what they needed to do to 1) take care of their children and 2) have some positive fellowship with other women….but man oh man, did it hurt almost every single week. On the way home, I would comment to my husband about the “mommy club” striking again, to which he would tell me that I was overreacting. Our group broke up a couple years ago. I do miss these women dearly, but I do not miss feeling like an outsider in my own Bible study group.
Oh…and yesterday, on a holiday that can find people celebrating and partying until wee hours of the morning, we mowed the lawn, stripped wallpaper in our bathroom, and went to bed at 8:30. Could we have gone out and partied it up? I suppose, but that’s not how we operate, despite what others might think of couples without children. I would rather have been creating holiday memories with children…catching fireflies, twirling sparklers, and stuffing s’mores into my mouth. Could we have done these things with just the two of us? Sure. But at the moment, it feels forced and pathetic to me. Would we have loved to been invited to celebrate the 4th with our friends and their young kids? Absolutely. But no invitiations were extended. So once again, a holiday became just another day to get chores done around the house.
We have a similar situation in our workplace as I have noticed that all the moms there seem to hang out together in that clubhouse and it stings when you are excluded!
Personally, I think this is just the tip of the lonely weekend iceberg. In my 20’s I had a very fun, active group. When everyone started getting married and having children, I started getting excluded from their parties. I joined a church singles group to make friends. Eventually, I out grew them and their parties. I had a brief marriage in my 40’s and now I am knocking on 50’s door. So I am not in a group period. My friends that had children in their 20’s are now grandparents so they are in another group now. I don’t have a spouse to lean on, so it is just me again. If it wasn’t for my dogs, I think I would pull my hair out.
Kathryn Roux Dickerson says
I get that. It was a couple of years ago that it came to me as a shock that i not only will not have children, there will never be grandchildren, either. I now belong to a couple of different knit/craft groups (i do love to knit). A couple of them are well-rounded in the people they have. But one of the groups, all i hear over and over is, “My granddaughter . . . ” and variations of the like. One woman can’t talk of ANYTHING but her grandchildren. I’ve a strong suspicion she was the same as a mother. The one lady i know in this group who doesn’t have children, either, just sits quietly and rarely says anything. I’ve tried to strike a conversation with her, but it has been a challenge.
It stinks doesn’t it when they all get together and you get excluded. Why not just ask then no one feels excluded.
I know how you feel. But in my experience, all you need is patience. First, your women friends might disappear into the “baby hole” once the kid is born. But after a couple of years, the will be happy again to have hubby look after the children an go out with out for a meal and a chat without having to look after the kids, and talk about something else for a change. More patience will be needed because they will sometimes talk about the kids. That’s their life now. But as long as they’re happy listening to YOU talking about YOUR life – i think that’s what friendship is about, isn’t it? Taking an interest in each other’s life?
Secondly, you’ll need patience, and just TELL your friends, that the bar- and club life is not what you’re after. That you want to share time with THEM. If it includes the children, it’s still sharing time with them in the situation they are in. Just TELL them that you are happy to go to a sunday afternoon stroll with the children. That you are HAPPY to come to the kid’s birthday party. That you are HAPPY with the board games and the dinners in their house, even if occasionally bits of food fly around your ears :-). They will eventually listen and believe you and invite you again to the dinners and the board games. If you’re honest about this, you get to keep your friends.
I’m on board with the honestly policy but it doesn’t always work. I suppose if after several stabs at honesty you still lose the friends then they weren’t good friends to begin with. But it’s hard to imagine that the people you thought were your friends can so easily forget about you, especially when you are trying hard to stay in the loop.
I totally understand what you’re saying. But again: A “friend” who disappears from your life, because you go different paths – is that a real friend? A “friend” who can’t talk about ANYTHING than the children – is that an interesting person to be friends with? I say no and good riddance to them….
It stinks when friends disappear when they get lucky and its not fair is it?
I really feel for you. As I’ve said elsewhere, I was lucky that my friends all had children spread over a couple of decades, and so there were never more than one or two pregnant at the same time. Only one really shut me out. I felt that too – because I was happy to babysit, was always part of the children’s lives, always gave them presents, and to quote one of them when he heard I was coming to visit “oh good, I LOVE Auntie [Mali].” But I knew they were having regular get-togethers with friends with kids, and their new friends were parents of their kids friends. I could understand that. But my contact with my friend – we had been very close – became less and less frequent. It was always me calling her, and after a while I gave up. They had several friends without kids – but like us, they were dropped too. It’s made me wary now that she’s trying to get in touch again. I don’t quite trust her not to drop me when it suits her again.
I’ve definitely experienced the no invites to kid parties on many occasions and the “moms night out”. Recently my friend went camping with her mom’s group and I didn’t think much of it until she said what you said here…”you can tag along if you like”. It was like a was walking along and got tripped. It was weird. She went on to say, “you wouldn’t want to be around all those kids anyway”. Right, because not having children (even not by choice) all of a sudden means you don’t like them. Or that I just don’t belong in that company. I’ve since let it go but yeah, it’s definitely a group that is selective that’s for sure!
It’s the “tag along” part that really gets me. It’s not “Oh, it’s going to be a blast you HAVE to come with us.” Or, “we really hope to see you on Saturday.”
“Tag alone” to me me says, “what WE’RE doing is going to be fun for US because WE planned a day to do stuff WE enjoy. We don’t really care if you are there or not but if you want to be part of OUR plans then yeah, sure, tag along.”
I hate the tag along thing as well!
For me personally, whenever I go back home to Indo, most of my friends are now mommies (most of them have more than one child already), so it’s hard for them to find time to go and meet me. However, with my closest friends at least we make up the lack of real life meetings by communicating online (through emails mostly). I know it’s not the same as real life meetings, though…I sincerely hope that your friends will still involve you during the weekend even though they’re now mothers (or pregnant).
Now that my husband and are 40 without kids we hang out mostly with our gay friends. They don’t have the weird baby pressure and still love to hang out and try new things. Frankly I don’t like to hang out with my friends with kids because everything becomes all about keeping the kids happy so we can’t talk anyway.
I can relate. We were the first of our friends to get married and I always thought we would have kids first. Now most of our friends are married and each have a few kids, while we’ve been trying over 9 years and have lost 4 babies. We always try to include all our friends when we have parties or bbq’s even though it’s tough for me. But more and more they are planning events and we are being excluded and it really hurts.
I can relate too. We are in our 40’s, newly married. I was trying w my first husband, so been thinking about being a mom for years. My current husband and I just decided to stop trying after 2+ years. All of his friends have kids in high school and don’t seem to relate to us. All of my younger friends seem to be getting pregnant, or I’ve lost contact with my friends who were my age, as they’ve had children of their own. Displaced is how I feel. Maybe I just need new friends who can accept us for who we are.
Sorry to hear you have had those losses and it always hurts when you are excluded and makes them feel a lot worse and it hurts when friends disappear as well.
Maybe Lady Liz says
Thank you all for sharing your comments. I was a little afraid to address this topic on my own blog, but now that I’ve read through all these stories, I’m thinking there needs to be a public message that people really shouldn’t make assumptions about whether or not we want to be around parents and children. If they don’t want us there, that’s one thing. But if they’re not inviting us because they think we don’t want to be there…well, that should be our decision.
Why cant they just ask you if you want to go to something and its then up to you to decide but it does hurt when you find out that you have been excluded from something.
Late to the conversation, but just wanted to say I can relate to everyone’s stories. Liz, I completely agree — don’t assume, ASK. Maybe we want to be there, maybe we don’t. Maybe the answer will be different from one event to the next. But just ASK. Is that so hard??
I wanted to ask if there are any meet up groups for people who are childless by choice. I am starting to feel isolated in my choice not to have children. I know it is the right choice and I have a lot of interests in my life. I would love to spend time with other people who have other things to talk about. I have been included in activities with moms but the entire night was spent talking about the drama in their kid’s life. It was one of the most ugly experiences I have had. I can relate to a lot of what has been said on this site and feel a little relief to have read it. I want to be proactive and not get caught in feeling like I am on the outside because I decided not to have children. Any suggestions would be welcomed. Thanks
Yes i find these tales very supportive and refreshing to hear.
I think i am and have been brave not having had children or adopted though had time to cultivate a prosperous and informed work life.
I am happier now to accept i only have myself as these topics are so sensitive and complex to deal with especially over time.
I think humans tend to become clanlike and challenged heavily with biases and loyalties of persons as well as opinions and
Sometimes i am glad that i havn’t needed to get on the fast train to evolution or personal spiritual growth by having children . I have achieved that alternatively
And so not conformed for some parents i think have , not all.
I am looking foward to when the polarity changes and women mainly will consider more bravely if they really want to be parents as they have the main controle , and we can have healthier and more functional families in the world. I am not so impressed with the politics of parenthood and conclude that many fewer humans should have children anyway.
It seems to me that more prepared parents are needed in the world rather than children are needed.
I had an experience myself with this as what happened was I found out the married couples were all going away to a holiday let and I wasn’t even asked and that had really upset me a great deal as it hurts to be excluded from both the mommy clubhouse and the married couples one which also seems like an exclusive club when couples leave you out of things. I mean they could have asked if I would like to go and even if I said sorry I’m busy that day and can’t come at least I would have been considered but I wasn’t. I wouldn’t have gone there anyway but its the fact I was shoved out that hurt the most.