Thursday, August 28, 2014

Once Best Friends, Now Strangers With Memories

I've mentioned before that sometimes I really just don't feel like growing up.  I realize that at the ripe old age of 30 I should probably just go with this whole "I'm an adult" thing, but there are times when I really don't want to.

One of the worst things about getting older is the way your friendships can change.  Between moving, marriages, babies, work, and life in general, people start to grow and drift apart.  And I'm not going to sugarcoat this: it fucking sucks.

I found this quote on Pinterest, and I thought it really set the mood of this post.  This isn't a "feel good" kind of post, but it's real ... It's a post about my feelings and how things have changed for me (and the people in my life) over the last few years.

By the time a woman hits 30, she'll find herself shoved into one of two categories:

The Moms


Women Without Kids

(In case you're new to this blog, I fall into the latter category.)

Here's the thing ... There are so many ways to define yourself.  I'm not just a woman without a kid.  I have interests, goals, and talents.  I have pet peeves, annoying habits, and guilty pleasures.  I'm a person with real thoughts and feelings and opinions.  I'll say it again: I'm not just a woman without a kid.

The problem is that not everyone looks at things this way.  Sure, most people understand that being a mom (or not) doesn't have to completely consume you.  You're still you whether you're responsible for a child, a pet, or no one but yourself.  You may not have as much time for yourself if you're trying to raise a couple of young kids, but the part of you that loves reading and bad soap operas and dancing around the house to cheesy '80s music didn't just disappear.  You know what else didn't disappear?  The part of you that can be a really great friend, the one everyone always counts on because you've always had a good head on your shoulders.  The one that always listens.

Unfortunately, it often seems as though those parts slowly start to fade into the background once a woman becomes a mother.  And, to make matters worse, they don't stop fading until they're almost completely gone.

I'm not saying this is true for everyone ... I know plenty of mothers who are still down for girl talk and shopping and any number of other activities that don't involve their children (at least sometimes).  And, to be honest, they don't have to exclude their children all the time.  I'm always completely fine with just hanging out at their house talking while their kids play nearby or going to a kid friendly restaurant for a quick meal.  (Basically what I'm trying to say is that I'm not a childless bitch with no regard for the fact that some of my friends have children and may want to include them and/or not bother with a babysitter if we're going to hang out.)

But then there are the mothers who have dedicated their entire lives to their kids.  If that's what they want to do, that's awesome.  However, it's not awesome for their childless friends who still actually care about them and want them in their lives.

I realize this probably sounds incredibly selfish.  And it is to some extent.  But the thing is, I'm not asking for some major time commitment.  I don't expect dinners out together once a week if we live in the same area or hour long phone conversations each week if we don't.  But a text once in a while would be nice.  Maybe a lunch date one weekend (with or without kids).  I'd even settle for something as impersonal as a Facebook message!  (And seriously, do not say busy mothers don't have time for this ... It's pretty obvious they do considering the moms I'm friends with typically post pictures and status updates multiple times every day.)

Unfortunately, once I'm actually talking to and/or spending time with my mom friends, other issues start to arise.

For example, there's this unspoken pressure to become a mother when I'm around these women.  I almost feel like I have to justify how I spend my time because (obviously) if I'm not nurturing young minds and/or making the shit out of every kid-approved craft on Pinterest, I'm not doing anything with my life.  Forget the fact that I work hard 40 (sometimes more) hours each week at a job I actually enjoy.  Forget the fact that I've been keeping a pretty regular exercise regimen that includes yoga and weight lifting classes.  Forget the fact that I spend many evenings in the kitchen trying new recipes not only for Eric and me, but to share on this blog.  Forget the fact that I spend any time working on this blog.  Forget the fact that I have other interests and hobbies, like reading and going to concerts and traveling (which I don't get to do enough of!).  All anyone hears if you're 30 and childless is "I have so much free time because I don't have kids."

That's not really incorrect ... But it's not completely accurate either.  I mean, just because I don't have kids doesn't mean I don't have other responsibilities.  Eric and I still have to maintain our household and work and pay bills.  We still have to make sure we can actually, you know, live.

Not only do I feel like I need to justify how I spend my time, I also feel like I have to somehow prove that I'm doing something worthwhile with my life.  I think this pisses me off more than describing my often jampacked schedule because, really, who can judge whether or not my life has any meaning?  I'm pretty sure I'm the only person actually qualified to do that, but (on more than one occasion) I've been made to feel as though my life is pretty much worthless because I'm depriving myself of the joys of motherhood.  Whether this was intentional or not, it still hurt.

As I said, I don't think all mothers are like this.  But, if you're like me, there are probably one or two in your life that are.  And, unfortunately, these are often people you really can't ignore because they actually matter to you.  These are the friends that will break your heart over and over because you're just not ready to let go.  In my case, I'm still hanging on to the idea of who these women once were ... The person I truly believe is still buried somewhere deep inside.

I hope I'm not wrong about that.

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