Last week I was on a walk with my neighborhood mom group when we got caught in a downpour (hooray, spring in the Gulf Coast). We took shelter in a coffee shop and every patron inside—even the employees—looked at us with disdain. They glanced sideways at our strollers like they were going to multiply.
Let me emphasize that we split up the strollers and tucked them into unused corners. We picked up the dropped cereal puffs and threw them in the trash. We bought drinks. None of the children cried. It didn’t matter. We were BREEDERS. They wanted nothing to do with us and our horrible offspring.
They regarded us as though our parenthood was contagious. PARENTITIS! Don’t look at the breeders or you might end up like one of them!
That night as I relayed to Hubs what had happened he verbalized what I had secretly been thinking all day. A year ago we would have done the exact same thing. And right around the time I announced my pregnancy, many of our friends without children did do the exact same thing. They treated me like I was contagious. I started to not hear from them as much.
Look, I get it. To many people without children, parenthood is an irreversible condition in which your social life, travel opportunities, and finances are squandered as you struggle to raise a screaming, booger-covered germ factory not to be an asshole.
It’s also terrifying to think that, after years of trying not to get pregnant, we were suddenly at an age when people were actively trying to get pregnant. And then we had to pretend like it wasn’t terrifying.
Boogie is ten months old now, and I’ve grown used to not hearing from my friends who don’t have children. Photos of out-of-town beer fests and weekend girl getaways pop up on social media and I still occasionally feel a twinge of jealousy laced with a little anger. I fully disclose that the transition from A-list to No-list was tough.
My sister, a mother of two, warned me when I was pregnant that many of my friendships wouldn’t survive past baby’s first year. But I stubbornly held on to the idea that parenthood wouldn’t change my socially active lifestyle. We could still drink beer! We could still go to concerts! We could still camp! We would just bring her along!
Most people without kids naturally assume that you’re no longer eligible for late-night shenanigans (which is, sadly, mostly true). We know our limitations now. We still go out for drinks, but now it’s on weekend afternoons (instead of five nights a week) and we stop before we get hammered. Because caring for a baby while hung over is pretty much the worst kind of hell there is. We like to go out of town, but we rock a pack n’ play and noise machine with our bags. Admittedly, we haven’t been to any concerts with Boogie, but she does have headphones to protect her ears when the opportunity arises. Our social life hasn’t suffered per se, it’s just…modified.
It’s true that many of our friends have dropped off the map. Many of them haven’t—and we’ve even gained some great, new parent friends—but many of them have. They either assume we no longer believe in fun, our schedules around naps and sleeps don’t match up, or they just didn’t sign up to be around kids. And that’s fine.
Along with my sister’s warning came a silver lining: You may lose some friends, but you also won’t really care. You have something bigger now. I caught parentitis and it’s irreversible. And I’m glad.
And to the anti-breeders in the coffee shop we reacted as any group of rational, educated women would. We ignored them and sang along with the 90s R&B tunes playing over the speakers.