How to Be Friends With Single People: A Guide For Parents
Feel free to ask me when I'm having kids if you're ok with me asking, "How many of your kids are you naming Darren?"
I’ve noticed an epidemic spreading among friends who’ve recently started expanding their families. It’s called Trouble Interacting with Kidless Entities Syndrome or TIKES. Common side effects include forgetting how adult conversation works, measuring time by nap-eat-poop cycles and only knowing songs that are programmed into toys. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, worry not, Procreating Friends, because I’m here to help. Think of me as your post-parenthood guide: “What to Expect When You’re Talking to People Who Are Not Expecting” in human form.
1. Trust me, our lives are equally boring.
I never feel so cool as when I hang out with my friends who have kids. They assume I’m constantly cycling through exciting activities when, in fact, I’m probably alternating between eating snacks, binge-watching TV, and thinking about what snacks and TV shows I’ll consume next. Your romanticized ideas about your child-free friends’ lives are flattering! And probably inaccurate. I don’t have a “hot date” later unless you mean the pizza I plan on reheating for dinner.
2. I, one hundred percent, want to hang out with your baby (at least some of the time).
Babies are legally obligated to be cute and I need all the cute I can get in my life. You know what is a wonderful and undeniably cute hangout activity? Breakfast. We can meet up for coffee and I can taunt you while you drink decaf. Or we can make breakfast at one of our respective homes. Then, I can try to feed your kid a bagel, and you can be like, “She’s literally a month old and has no teeth.” And I’ll be like, “Fine, good—more bagels for me.”
3. Please don’t ask me when I’m going to have kids.
Remember before you had kids and everyone berated you about hurrying up and having kids? Was that fun? Do you want your kid-free friend to ask you when you’ll stop having kids? Do you want them to ask your small child when they plan on having kids? How many they’ll have, how they’ll budget for them when they can’t even get a job, whether they’ll name them all “Darren” or just a few of them, etc.? If not, maybe don’t ask your friend. There are so many other questions you can ask, such as:
“How was your week?”
“Do you have strong feelings about cheese?”
“When do you think they’ll stop making Kidz Bop CDs?”
“Did you know dust is mostly made of human skin?”
“Dogs in hats. Thoughts?”
4. Stop saying you’re soooo sorry for being a parent.
You don’t need to apologize for having kids. Your single friends aren’t going to apologize for not having kids. They will understand if you need to attend to parental duties/doodies, I promise. If you feel like your relationship has become kid-centric, shift the focus rather than waxing apologetic. For example, when you regale them with stories about your baby’s latest blowout, remember to ask your friend about their worst bowel movement experiences. It’s only polite! Feeding your kids in front of your friends is only rude if you forget to offer them some. I always want halved grapes or a handful of Cheerios, thank you very much.
5. Don’t feel bad for cancelling.
Yep. People without kids are just like people with kids, except we can count the number of times we’ve seen Moana on two fingers and the fruit snacks we buy are only for us. If your single friends don’t want to hang out with you now that you have kids...well, they sound like they aren’t really your friends.
At the end of the day, we’re all human. And if I know humans, there’s one thing that binds us all: our love of canceled plans. It is our great connector. The fact that you gave birth to what is essentially a Plan Cancel-o-Matic makes you an even better friend. Really. It gives me more time to think about future snacks and TV shows.
Mia Mercado is a writer who has been published in The New Yorker and The New York Times. She has also written for Hallmark Cards. She has a couple nieces, one dog and zero self-control while eating chips.