One of the reasons I started this blog was to have an outlet for some of the emotions I was experiencing whilst making my decision to not have children. I have very few friends I can talk to about this who truly understand how it feels to be in your 30’s and childless-by choice or not.
One of my dearest friends lives in Australia. I actually met her through my husband, who’s best friend is her husband. We were so lucky to meet and forge such a great friendship, as before they moved half way across the world we probably spent most weekends together. It is a relationship which encompasses everything essential to a good friendship – love, laughter, a similar life stance, similar interests and a deep understanding of eachother. Recently this couple so dear to us have been through a really tough time. He was diagnosed with cancer which was really scary and hard, with a gruelling treatment regime which left them unable to have their own children. Before this I think they were in two minds about having kids, but it’s nice to have a choice right? Their experience is very different to ours and I have no doubt it caused heartache. She has had similar experiences to me in that her friendships have changed irrevocably since everyone started having kids and they didn’t. We have had to find other ways to fill our spare time and turn to other people and things for emotional support when required. Both our marriages are stronger for it I think. But we frequently wish we were geographically closer so we could lend eachother that support.
Another good friend of mine is 31 years old and single. We met at university. She is an accomplished surgical registrar and an incredibly intelligent, funny, thoughtful person. She tells me she frequently wonders if she made the right life choices by choosing to pursue her demanding career, maybe if she didn’t she would be married or in a relationship by now? But she loves her job, and rightfully feels she shouldn’t have to sacrifice a successful and rewarding career to have personal happiness too. She is beginning to accept that it may not happen for her, and she’s ok with that. She expresses the same frustrations as me ,that as your friends have families, you suddenly become expendable. You have to fit around their schedules, and often feel you will never have an adult meal out after 7pm again. You spend time listening and empathising with them about an experience completely alien to you – having a child – then find this entirely one sided. It is almost as if they feel you couldn’t possibly have anything of significance happening in your life because you don’t have children, or maybe they just don’t care anymore?
I may sound bitter, but sometimes this is how I feel. I’m not a needy friend. I never needed to see my friends every week, or text them every day. But I do expect to get emotional support from them. I do expect to listen and be listened to. I do expect to be made to feel important to them, even if it’s just for an hour once a month. I do need more than just my husbands company to thrive.
So if you have children or are going to have children, don’t forget about your childless/childfree friends. They miss you. They still want to have a relationship with you, and your little one. But we won’t wait forever, so please, just take that one minute to drop us a text, ask us how we are, no one is so busy that they can’t do that.