Married without Kids to Married with Kids: Friendships

I had initially intended for this post to include my perspective at the time I started it (Married without Kids) and a friend's perspective (Married with Kids), however, it has just ended up sitting in my drafts forever. I had written the beginning of this post almost a year ago. So, instead of finding a guest for the second part, I am going to write it now that I am married with kids (even if he's only 7 months old). Enjoy.

Married without Kids
As I look towards June, I have been thinking a lot about how my friendships may change once I become a parent and how to prepare my friendships for this change. When many of my friends started to become parents, I started to feel really alone. Of course I was happy for them, but I also realized the implications of their new roles.  All of a sudden my once easily accessible friends became impossible to meet up with, rarely returned my text messages, and seemed completely distracted once we finally found a time to hang out together. Friendships I once treasured started to fade away. All of a sudden I became the "flexible" friend. I go 90 and you go 10.

I realize that parenthood is hard (of course my understanding is limited) and it's all about learning how to balance your child, marriage, and other obligations. I'm not trying to discredit that. Instead, I'm hoping to share my experience as someone on the other side of that friendship, the side of being married without kids so that maybe people in both seasons can understand the other side a bit better and strengthen their relationships as a result. I felt as if I became less valuable of a friend to my friends with kids and that's the feeling I absolutely don't want others to feel when I become a parent myself. I didn't know, and still don't know, what it looks like to be a good friend to my friends with kids. I'm not sure I have ever had a blatant conversation with a friend about this.

It's really important for me to stay relevant to my single friends and friends without kids once I become a parent. I realize my priorities will change and my schedule will be dictated by someone other than myself, but it's imperative to me that my friends don't feel the way that I did when my friends started to have kids. I don't want them to feel alone and I want them to know that even if our friendship doesn't look the same, I still treasure our friendship. I need our friendship. I can't promise that I won't sometimes talk about my kid or need our plans to be different than they might have been beforehand, but I can promise that I will be honest about where I'm struggling and I will try not to leave you out. I hope that I will be able to communicate with my friends when I'm struggling to balance everything so they know that it's not them, it's me. I hope I will be comfortable enough to invite my friends into these tough spaces rather than assume they don't want to be included or that I'm burdening them. I also hope that I can realize when my friends are going 90 for me, so that I can maybe try to go further than a 10 for them sometimes. So I can at least express appreciation even if I can't go more than 10. We're all trying our best here, right?

One year later... Married with Kids
Here I am, almost a year later, married with an almost seven-month-old! The transition to parenthood has been hardest on my marriage, if I am to be honest. We have had to figure out how to balance parenting, each other, our jobs, and our personal care (e.g., gym, time with friends). I feel like now that we have figured that out a bit more, friendships have returned to where they were pre-baby in terms of quality time (of course my friends my have a different perspective).

I have realized that, even after having Asa, my friends are still so important to my own mental and spiritual health. I need community to be a good parent. Sure, many of my friends ended up going 90 while I went 10 in the past few months, but I think we are returning to some sort of balance. It's natural for friendships to ebb and flow between who might need more at one time, and who might need more at another time. All relationships are that way. That's the beauty in having friends that stick with you through those times. You can pour into them when they need it, and they can pour into you when you need it.

In all honesty, I don't think the perspective I shared above has changed a whole lot now that I am a parent. I have realized, though, that finding the balance is harder for some than others so there are natural differences in my relationships because of that. I might see some friends with kids far more often than I see others, and that's alright for this season. I'm trying to practice more grace for others in these situations. The one thing that has changed, though, aside from my perspective, is simply the amount of time I have. I do have less free time on the evenings and weekends which has certainly limited the amount of time I can give to friends within those windows.

I am thankful to my single friends and friends without kids that have stuck with me through a time where maybe I needed a little more than I did before and wasn't able to reciprocate in the same way. Also, I might be guilty of talking about my kid too much, to be completely honest (sorry friends).

Which season, if either, are you in? What are your thoughts and feelings about friendships in your season?

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