A few years ago my writing partner, Emma, and I were taken out to lunch by a woman who had just had her first baby in her early forties. She had already hired and fired several nurses and was lamenting (really whining -- technically, it was whining) that she didn't have anyone to ask advice of because in her thirties, as her friends had become parents, she had "cut them out of her life."
When my daughter was a few months old a friend, who had recently reclaimed me, told me quite proudly that she had no space anymore for her friends without children and made no time for them.
As the recent film "Friends With Kids" so spectacularly documents, yes, there is a real divide between the Rested and the Great Underslept, as I will refer to the parenting class. We have lost hours of our days, and all of our free time, to running a daycare for one. (I'm ignoring the blissful honeymoon of the first year when you can make quiche or roam a gallery wearing a baby sling. People take less kindly to the parents chasing the screaming toddler across the Nan Goldin exhibit.)
Here's why I love my single friends. First, they are flexible. Two moms trying to make a dinner date feels like waiting for the CERN supercollider to be ready. Second, and this may come as a shock, I don't want to talk about parenting. I'm doing enough of it. Tell me about the subtitled movie you stayed awake through, the restaurant that doesn't take reservations you waited an hour to eat at, and, if you really love me, take me through your latest hook-up in slow detail. Seriously. Start with how you shaved and wore something uncomfortable and take it from there while I make popcorn.
And, in exchange, I will not make you feel like you need to hurry up and get here. I will show you the grey hair and loose abdominal skin I'm now sporting and tell you to go enjoy your firm breasts. I will not belittle your choice to hold out for the right life partner. I will not say you need to get on it.
All I ask for is a little patience. I may forget your birthday by a couple of days. I may have to cancel dinner if the sitter gets sick. I may yawn before the check comes. Or the appetizer. But please know that I value you. Your brain. Your ambition. Your participation. You are my ambassador to another life I am temporarily absent from and will rejoin someday.
So I propose that if the childless can be patient, and the child-ed can refrain from misplaced condescension, we can benefit from each other. Because we may trade places some day and we'll be glad to have someone to show us around.
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