Being a child-free person who has dozens of friends with children, I find that Facebook is a great way to keep up with my friends’ children. A quick glance at pictures lets me know who lost a tooth, who had a dance recital, and who just got a baby brother. Adding a comment or sending a quick direct message is just enough to let my friend know I am thinking of him or her. When I can finally see my friends and their children in person, I’m already a little bit updated on what’s been going on, and we’ve technically “seen” each other’s lives.
However, I find that since the schedules of a child-free person and a parent are so different that the onus isn’t really on the child-free person to find the time. I never have much time to get together due to my jobs, but if my friends with kids want to see me, I will try to go to them, as I know it’s technically harder for them to pack a third person in the car. However, I’ve had to establish boundaries after too many trips across town. I’ve made sure that although my home might not be officially “child-proof,” it is not “child-unfriendly,” and mom and baby are certainly welcome to stroll(er) on over and join me for tea or a walk in my neighborhood.
One thing I’ve noticed is that even though my friends respect my child-free choice, we never visit the uncomfortable reality that although I don’t want children of my own, in my spare time I don’t quite envision hanging out with people and their children as what I want to do exclusively either. I have made sure that my mommy friends know that although I may not be able to be “Aunt Jen,” I definitely love their child because I love them. But I need some alone time with mommy to have dinner and connect, and that makes it easier for resentment not to build or friendships not to turn into play dates between an adult and her friend’s toddler.
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