“I’m pregnant!” my friend gleefully announces.
And I think, Well, f*ck me six ways to Sunday, but I instead I jump up and embrace her and say, “Congratulations!!! I am so happy for you!”
Yup, another one has gone over to the Dark Side. My playmate, my buddy, my date for tea and chick-flicks will soon switch discussion topics from the last great novel she read to the merits of cloth versus disposable diapers and the challenges of getting into the “right” preschool/private school/ballet studio. While I bravely continue to pursue political movements, investing options, and the hottest new tapas restaurant this side of the Bay, she’ll be focusing on PTA politics, college funds, and how to get her kid to eat green vegetables.
Before long, the excuses for missing lunch dates (sick baby, sick kid, soccer games) will grow tiresome. She’ll kindly include me in the first few get-togethers with her new friends from the mommies group. I’ll make polite conversation when I’m invited to baby showers and first birthday parties. But eventually I’ll get lost in the mist as she gets sucked into more and more “family” events and senses how much more she has in common with the other reproducers. “Whatever happened to your friend Kathy?” they might ask. “Oh, she never had kids.” “Ohhh,” they will say knowingly. Or so I imagine. This is worse than being the last kid picked for teams. This is being told you can’t even play the game, but if you want, you can watch from the bleachers.
And I’m pissed. But mostly I’m lonely. It’s really, really hard to make new friends when you’re over the age of 40 (and don’t have kids who make making those regular interactions easier). You have to make a determined effort to get out, try new classes, start new groups, and hope to find a connection. It’s not unlike dating, and it can be really exciting, but mostly scary and discouraging. But you carry on, remembering the closeness you once shared with old friends who, over time, could read your thoughts and finish your sentences.
Within the first three years after I moved to my current home city, several of the women who I thought could become part of my new posse became first-time mothers. I didn’t know they were trying; we hadn’t known each other that long, so the topic never came up. A couple had been trying for years, and became pregnant shortly after meeting me. Lisa (our LWB Lisa) found this hilarious and suggested I offer myself out as a fertility icon: Become friends with me, and you’ll be knocked up within 3 months—guaranteed!
After the fourth announcement, I broke down and told my husband how crushed I was, how broken-hearted, how devastating this was to my developing social life. He laughed at me, pointing out how ridiculous I sounded for getting so overly dramatic and self-pitying. And he’s right. Because, really, I was happy for my friends.
But for a short while, I need to lose my perspective and my sense of humor, wallow in self-pity, mourn the loss of my friend, and spend some time on my own Dark Side. Because underneath my happiness for her, I still hurt for myself.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods recently signed up for a 6:00 am Pilates class. She’s hoping to meet other working non-moms there.
That’s it on one hand you are glad for them and wouldn’t wish ill on them but you are sad for yourself and your situation.
Irene S says
Man I can so relate to this .. especially the 3rd paragraph where the friend starts having kids and initially we’re invited to a few party till eventually not being invited at all .. part of it is my fault for not engaging and not wanting to attend some of their kids birthdays .. but sigh not sure .. just so sad .. to see this
I know exactly what you mean I have lost several previously close friends – it’s all about their children once they arrive and I don’t deny them putting their children first. However it’s upsetting as not only have I worked hard to try to have children but I have to work harder on the social life front too and I have found it even harder being single. I found that most “couples” don’t include “singles” in their plans whether they are childless or not.
C’est la vie!
Aileen; I can relate to you…and you are not alone on this…I find very difficult to attend parties where everything is about husbands, children, grandchildren… I even withdraw from friends… or they just don’t invite me anymore.
We need a new set of friends !!!
absolutely. Being single is the “double whammy”. Friends with kids include me in their family activities. On the one hand I love to share this with them, but then it tends to become all about their needs, wishes etc…. until I start thinking that friendship should be reciprocal, that once in a while, maybe could we do a “grown-up-thing” together? is it so bad to meet at my house instead of theirs? and so on. But also, friends who are in a relationship, tend to meet up with other couples – why so rarely with the single friend? Meeting me, the single friend, is for a lunchtime date with only “her” – never for a shared activity with both of them on a weekend. That is for “couple activities”, to be shared with other couples. I know I used to do this when I was in a relationship, but in hindsight, I don’t understand why I did this. It’s certainly hurtful to your single friends.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods says
I totally get the double-whammy part, as I was the single friend until my mid-40s and often felt I was the only one making the effort to get together, make plans, and then left feeling isolated anyway when the conversations were all about them. I hope you’ll check out some of the resources on LWB, b/c this is a place for every woman, we want to hear from you. There’s a post “…About Being Childless and Single” and there are a couple of groups in the Forums where you might find extra support.
Sending out extra love to all of you today. xoKathleen
Make new friends with women with older kids. That stage where they have small kids sucks. At least the women with older kids or the empty nesters want to start having a life of their own.
I second that. I was at lunch today and across the room was a table of several small children, probably about 3-4 years old. The mommies were all at the next table. My lunch partner, who is in her early 50s, knows about my struggles of a LWB. (She has a son in college, but he was a very sick child, so she had her struggles too.) But I pointed and made a comment that that was the age when it was difficult to deal with the mommies. She looked at me and quietly said “I am so sorry”. I told her thanks but don’t worry about it. I think she saw in that moment how isolating it is. If she were 15 years younger…I don’t think that would have been the case.
And I really wasn’t bothered by the moms and their kids, but I confess, it was nice to have the acknowledgement…
yeah sure. But I don’t want to “strategically” choose my friends and actually avoid people I got to know just because they might still become parents! and yet, sometimes I actually found myself considering this. How lonely is that.
I have news for you.. have you ever heard them say: Motherhood is forever !!!
I did…many times… and… I also heard their stories… about their 30 year old daughter that once was a child and had this beautiful dress…..and the story goes on and on and on and on..
Seems they don’t want to grow up to a more mature state….
Just my thoughts….
Totally get how u feel it’s been a long 7 yrs, we didn’t get the support we needed until it was too late, I have been following 2 couples on you tube and both were suffering with infertility, the first one fell within 3 yrs the other has just fallen pregnant after her 3 rd attempt of ivf I am so happy for them they have also adopted 2 girls while doing ivf, to think of the drs had diagnosed my endometriosis earlier and my husbands azoospermia it was low 5 yrs ago our dream could of happened too one day I will get there
Because you are an emotionally complex woman, it can be both; you can both feel happy for someone else and sad for you. I can imagine a part of you is bracing for the slow death of the relationship as you anticipate its trajectory based on past experience–that alone sounds grueling. As Marci mentioned, I am grateful to not being experiencing that as much now that I am in my early 50’s. Now I just have friends who are becoming grandparents, but, as sad as I am that I will never be a grandparent, at least I don’t lose those women as friends. Sounds like a good time to honor your experience and to lick your wounds…
I’ve lost so many friends along the way once they have children. I’ve tried so hard to keep up with the friendships, but they always drift away and deviate towards others like them, with kids. It’s hard not to feel sad about this. And yes, they do come back once their kids are older, but then grandchildren come along and the whole cycle starts up all over again, where they are doing family stuff with their family unit and you’re an oversight – never invited to anything and they never bring them over.
I’ve also joined tons of groups and classes for things but tend to end up in silence when everyone talks about their offspring and again have felt like the odd one out.
It never ceases to amaze me how people never notice our silence, or that we don’t contribute to any of these conversations.
Jane P (UK) says
Hi Kathleen – thanks so much for sharing your story. I am so sorry you’ve lost another friend and that you have inevitably with this news had to relive your own loss of motherhood as well as a social buddy. I’ve lost a lot of friends in this way – in the end my husband actually said out loud “I think we should only befriend older people”. We didn’t plan to do this but to protect ourselves its sort of what happened and it helped. Most of our younger friends are back in our lives as the children have grown up – I do know its short lived as grandchildren will be along in the next 5 years. I rely less on female friendships but I appreciate that is not so easy when you are single – I spend a lot of Friday’s nights in the pub with my husband and his male mates and we spent last Saturday afternoon in the pub watching the rugby! This is really difficult when you are single – male friends that you don’t date is tricky territory. The connection I have though (besides hubby) is sport. I know a few guys from the gym I go to (we can always talk about the spinning session) and I can recommend learning to ski or snowboard for connecting with guys. Big hugs to everyone here at LWB and especially those who don’t have a partner to support them. I do recommend joining a gym wherever you are on your journey – body balance is a great class for mind and spirit and letting off steam in a body combat class has helped me through. I have made some girlfriends in these classes too. At the end of the day though we must allow ourselves to be sad for ourselves and not expect the feeling of loss not to hit hard and hang over us for a while.