Guest Author - Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger
The phone rings. In the dark, you see your best friend’s face glowing brightly on your cell phone. Concerned because of the late hour, you answer immediately.
“Hey, sorry to bother you so late in the evening, but I just had to tell you the good news: I’m pregnant! I’m just so excited! I had to call you as soon as I found out!” she says enthusiastically.
“Oh…uh….well, congratulations,” you comment, forcing the words out.
“Thanks! I’ll let you go now; we can talk tomorrow. Sorry to wake you. I’m just so excited!” she says eagerly and hangs up.
As you hang up, Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” starts ringing in your head. After all, it was only a year ago that another close friend of yours gave birth. No. Actually, it was two years ago, and you have heard from her only a handful of times since then. You find yourself agreeing with the cliché “Having a baby changes everything.”
Unfortunately, this is very common among childfree individuals. In your twenties and thirties, you have deep, strong friendships with people you have known since childhood, relationships held together by common interests and the pure joy of sharing the same path in life. It is a companionship you enjoy and, eventually, start to depend on. So, when a fork suddenly appears on the well-groomed path the two of you have traveled together for many years, reality sets in. Your friend chooses one path, and you choose the other. Each of you attempts to convince the other that your path is better, but instinct and personal choice force each person to move forward alone. Ultimately, you and your best friend become estranged.
As time passes, you expect to hear from your friend. You begin to have feelings of resentment toward her for choosing the other path and neglecting the friendship. Change is an unavoidable circumstance in everybody’s life, whether it happens by choice or circumstance. When you begin to feel bitter, recall your motivations for avoiding the other path, and keep in mind that your friend may also be missing your friendship. The fact is that raising children is a very expensive, time-consuming process. During the early stage of a baby’s life, parents seldom have time for themselves, let alone their friends. So, when you don’t hear from them for long periods of time, it may not be because they have “moved on” in their lives without you. Likewise, as a childfree individual, your life is filled with career demands, educational pursuits, personal passions, and anything else you desire. You can always offer to help out friends with children by, for example, babysitting for them. But, if kids are not your thing, it may be a while before you and your friend reconnect. In time, the two paths that once diverged may merge together, and you can pick up where you left off. You will have both matured and had new experiences that you can share with one another.
Make it a priority to make friends with other childfree individuals. Childfree people need friends who have selected the same path because, quite frankly, they are in the minority. Being childfree can be a lonely journey if your door is not open to establishing new friendships and understanding your friends’ choice to have kids, much as you expect them to understand your choice. In recent years, many social media forums and groups have been established for those without children to share common interests and opinions. In addition to using social media to converse with like-minded individuals, try to locate other childfree people in your area; Meetup.com is a great resource for this.
Meetup.com is a site designed to connect people with common interests in the real world. There are many childfree groups listed on Meetup.com. If there isn’t a childfree group in your area, start one. There is no need to feel deserted because your friends are busy with their kids. You can continue to move forward with your life and establish new friendships with people who have also chosen your path. In the long term, you will have acquired a more interesting circle of friends, both childfree and not.