As women move into their 30s, the child-free start to stand out. A lot of people are having babies, or have had them already. Those who are child-free by choice get increasing questions about whether or when they’ll have kids.
They have fewer and fewer childless friends they can just call up to do fun stuff with. The stage of life where everyone was hanging out after work is ending, replaced by a period where many of your friends are tied down to their baby monitors.
Which, for those who really don’t want kids, is just fine. What’s not, according to Australian writer Clem Barstow, is being constantly pressured by others to have a kid. It’s enough to strain her friendships with new parents.
Clem just isn’t interested, she says, and she wishes all her new parent friends would get that and leave her alone. She writes:
So many parents (particularly new ones) look with pity on those who are childless through cruel circumstance, and with scorn on those who remain so by choice. Often I’m chastised, by those who have had children, about my “choice to remain single and childless”. When I respond that it was likewise their choice to have a family, they fall mute or change the topic. I refuse to subscribe to the idea that having a child is the pinnacle of a woman’s existence. We’re constantly told that people didn’t know true love, or understand the meaning of existence, and so on, until they had a child.
She’s 29, and while she’s not committing to a life without children, she finds it unlikely that motherhood is in her future. She just doesn’t have the baby bug.
For a lot of new moms, having a baby feels like the be-all, end-all. Your baby becomes your world, and it’s impossible to imagine how anyone could not want to devote themselves to bearing and raising a child. For women who don’t want kids, baby lust remains a mystery. It can be hard to bridge the gap between those with babies and those who’ve chosen not to have them.
How do you stay close to your child-free friends? Or, if you don’t have kids, how do you keep up connections with the new parents in your life? It’s a tricky dance, but well worth it to preserve friendships across these big life transitions.
Photo: David Boyle