Two years ago, one of my best friends married the love of her life. The backdrop of the January wedding was a winter wonderland. Fresh snow with blue skies and just the right amount of chill in the air, the day couldn’t have been better.
Before the snow even melted, she and her new husband were already being asked when they were going to start a family. For them, the answer was simple. They weren’t, or rather more accurately, they had already started a family by getting married. They were perfectly happy with their immediate family being each other.
Whether by choice or happenstance, there are many women who don’t have children. We all know at least one woman who experiences otherhood in place of motherhood. While I love being a mom (99.9% of the time), I also love catching glimpses into a life without children.
I love what my friends without children add to my life. I love their perspective. They ground me. They remind me of who I was before having children and in some ways they remind me who I still am today. They give me insight to who I might be in the future when my kids are grown. These are just some of the reasons why I choose to celebrate otherhood with the same mindfulness and appreciation as motherhood.
Below are my top five tips on how to stay connected to your girlfriends (and guy friends) who don’t have children.
1. Talk about something other than kids
Yes, our kids are the apples of our eye, and yes, your friend loves them too but, most of us are more than just Moms. We’re all daughters and friends. Some of us are employees and wives too. Keep updates on your kids brief and find some other common ground for your conversations.
2. Celebrate new homes, jobs, promotions, and pets with the same gusto as a new baby
Everyone loves a new baby. Smelling and snuggling a new baby is like a little piece of heaven. I’m sure your friend took great care and interest in celebrating your bundle of joy. Take the same care and interest in your friend’s milestones. Send a small, meaningful house warming gift or flowers on the first day of a new job. Mail a card or a nice note on their birthday. Babysit their pet so they can go on a long weekend with their significant other (and text photos of their pet having fun with your kids!). Celebrate the events in their life with the same gusto they extend to you via your kids.
3. Respect their time and their pocketbook
A good friend once told me that she felt like there was a pre-conceived notion that women without children have more time and money than women with children. I’ve found that people build a full life with or without kids. Women without children are busy too. Respect their time, and don’t assume that just because they are not shuffling kids to school, sports, or tending to them in some other way they aren’t busy.
Similarly, respect their pocketbook. It’s expensive to live in today’s world, and just about everyone’s on a budget. Yes, your daughter might be your friend’s single source for those delicious Girl Scout cookies but, there are countless fundraisers. Don’t ask your friend to contribute to them all.
4. Answer texts and make time for a kid-free chat
I’m the first to admit that sometimes answering a text message falls to the wayside. I miss it when it comes through. I forget to respond or simply don’t remember to hit send. It happens to the best of us. But, I try to respond to them all in a timely manner and I make an extra effort to prioritize texts from my friends without children because I want them to know that their life and thoughts are just as important to me as scheduling my sons’ next play date.
I also know how difficult it can be to find time to have a nice, long chat. Selfishly, when I have free time, I often want to do something that’s just for me, and setting aside time to chat with friends isn’t always at the top of my list. To me, while time alone is important, it’s equally important that I maintain and strengthen my friendships so I make time to chat with my friends, especially those without kids, when I know that I won’t have kids demanding attention in the background.
5. Extend the invite
I’m certain that your friend without children loves watching your kids grow. Don’t forget to extend birthday party invitations even if every other guest at the party will be a child or parent. Let’s face it, everyone loves cake! Likewise when you’re attending or coordinating a moms’ night out. Your friend might not be a mom, but I’m sure she’d love a night out on the town!