Jumping off the deep end into parenthood?

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LauraC wrote this week about things she missed from being pregnant and many of us chimed in (naps! time alone! eating tons of food!). It got me thinking. Do you know what I miss most? My friends.   When we had our kids—-at 30—-, none (and I do mean NONE) of our high school, college or post-college friends had children yet. Many had just gotten married that summer, creating a marathon of weddings to attend in the first trimester of pregnancy. The idea of having babies was only a vague fantasy for most of them. They were happy for us, they threw us a shower—and then our two screaming, non-sleeping babies bundles of joy arrived. And, our friends had no idea what to do or how to help. I think that the fact we had not one but two babies, and all that comes with it, made it that much more difficult for our (childless) friends to relate, help or understand or for us to be able to maintain any semblence of a social life.  Lunches  out? Drinks after work? HAHAHA.

And my  husband and I—we were in no place to help them figure out how to be friends with people who were also parents. We were sleep deprived. We couldn’t find time to return phone calls. When friends came over, it was a breast-feeding fest–nipples and belly flashing everywhere. I had one friend who wouldn’t stay in the room when I fed them, she was so uncomfortable with me lifting up my shirt. I fed them A LOT. Since I was BFing, I couldn’t be out of the house for more than an hour or so without needing to come home to nurse—or have my breasts explode. (TMI, I”m sure). In fact, the one time I was gone longer—three hours—I got mastitis.  If people were over during the witching hour, our house was loud and chaotic and probably a bit scary. I think if we had only had one (non-colicky) baby, we might have eased into parenthood a bit more slowly. Less breastfeeding. Less screaming. More sleep. One parent to deal with a fussy baby while the other chatted with friends. We didn’t go out to dinner—-why would we want to, with two fussy infants? My husband couldn’t do drinks after work, because I was hysterically calling him from 4pm on, asking him when the H** he was getting home. After 4 months or so, we didn’t go out to friends’ houses in the evening, because the kiddos went to bed at 7pm. We had a hard time getting a sitter and meeting friends out, because who wants to watch TWO infants? In fact, at 8 months we had a sitter for the first time in the evening, the teenage daughter of a work friend. We left her with two sleeping babies, and within an hour or two she to call in reinforcements (another co-worker of ours won that lottery) to help her handle the two babies. Needless to say, that sitter’s not interested in coming back. And still, a year later, tells her mom that she’s never having twins.  Overnight, we went from a childless couple to  a family with two kids. It was a stunning and always sometimes overwhelming transition for us. And, I think, for our friends.

And now, two years later? I realize that I don’t see my childless friends very much. They have made other (also childless) friends they hang out with, have late dinners with and meet for drinks after work. They chat on the phone in the evenings on their commute home (no one’s home when I’d like to chat—at about 4pm–except my dad, who’s retired. He gets a lot of calls from me). When they call me in the evenings, I am putting kids to bed or running out of the house to go to work or try to squeeze in a yoga class. Dont’ get me wrong—I have made plenty of new mom friends. We have early dinners together and lots of fun playdates. But I do miss my old ones.

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22 thoughts on “Jumping off the deep end into parenthood?”

  1. I definitely miss my old friends. I’m the first to get married and have kids. The rest are single and living it up in NYC. Now that I moved to the suburbs (a month ago) I see them even less. A couple have made an amazing effort to be a part of my life (and one even considers herself an ‘aunt’). But the rest have shuffled off. When I do see them for the occasional brunch, I feel ridiculous going on and on about my life that they not only have no part of, but can’t even begin to comprehend. They didn’t want to hear about my challenges with breastfeeding and the problems with constant ‘leakage’ and instead focused solely on how fabulous by big boobs looked!
    And unfortunately being in a new town, I don’t have any mommy friends either. Can’t wait to change that.

  2. I agree – miss my old friends and being able to go out on the drop of a hat with them. But some kid-less friends have been great about stepping in, even if they don’t always “get” the whole kid thing. We have had pretty good luck having people over for dinner – we get to see friends and don’t have to pay for a sitter! And some even have brought food. (Bonus!) Maybe some of your old friends would like to do kid stuff or would be willing to hang out at your house on a Saturday night? My sister was pretty bummed to never see some of her friends after they had kids and it just turns out that they assumed that my sister wouldn’t want to do kid stuff. Wrong – she loves it and now that her friends have realized it, they get together more and the parents have an extra set of hands with the kids. Then again, maybe your friends don’t want to have kids or hang out with them! Having kids certainly shows which of your friends like kids and which don’t!
    Dana

  3. Its definitely hard – I am so bad about keeping up with people and everyone I know is living very “young” lives. I have very few married friends, let alone friends with kids. Some of my friends are not even in relationships, so they are out there dating. Its hard to relate to me when they are still in that lifestyle. And they always say they want to “come see me and the babies” but it never seems to happen…

  4. I took a break from everything and everybody for 3 years. Until BOTH twins slept through the night.
    OTOH, I would have gone mad if I had to get out for at most one hour at a time (it took me ten minutes just to get out, and ten minutes to get everyone back in). I just brought the kids along and nursed them on demand. It was not very discrete, and I didn’t care.

  5. I was just thinking/writing today about my new life, our new daily routine. It is amazing how different it is with 2 babies to care for- how much less I can accomplish, how many less dinner parties I can throw!

    One of the hardest things with our childless friends is them understanding our new boundaries, our new ways of doing things. Then again, I think I may have been that friend before the twins arrived so I still hold on to hope. Maybe they will have babies of their own soon and begin to understand and come around to my “new style” of life!!!

  6. Just to clarify, I took the kids out all the time, and wasn’t shy about nursing in public (although, no, I wasn’t _that_ woman in the grocery store aisle). I’m talking about leaving the house WITHOUT kiddos. Me. Alone. (Fantastic).

  7. We’ve been lucky that some of our childless friends have been willing (free) if only occasional babysitters. From 6 mos. on, we also had a babysitting trade with another family with twin babies the same age as ours. We don’t do it any more because their now-toddlers have some serious sleep issues, but it was a life saver for a while and ensured that both couples got one date a month. As for single/childless friends, the thing I find the hardest is explaining why I don’t call them back regularly and in a timely fashion when they call me, and why we let calls go to voice mail. I hate talking on the phone–when I’m not besieged by 2 YOs I want to talk to my husband or just veg. Email is much easier but one of my friends in particular (an old friend, not local) seems to think it’s insulting that this is now my main way of communicating with her. Sigh. I do my best to keep in touch with those whose lives are now more remote, but those Saturday night folks who come over here for dinner are sure appreciated by us too!

  8. When we were able to take trips with family or meet friends for dinner, I found myself constantly “helping people to understand” our strict schedule. As we all know, keeping a schedule is SO important with twins and I often felt that people looked at me as an over the top, by the book, hard a$$. :-)

    Oh, and the babysitting thing is SO true! Even our own family members (other than my mom) were too nervous to keep the babies until they were almost a year old!

    Overall, our friends have stuck by us and been great. We lived in another city, so if we saw our friends or family, it was because they travelled to see us (or we went to them). That meant that they witnessed life with twin infants 24/7. That quickly gave them a GOOD understanding (and appreciateion) of our new life. :-)

  9. 19 weeks pregnant with twins and this post (and the comments) have really stressed me out. Must think happy thoughts…

  10. sounds oh so familiar. it just seems to work that way, and though i miss a few of them, i also know the ones we do see, get it, get us. they never give us a hard time about the boys and welcome us into their non baby proofed home and lives. maybe because they love us, or they eventually want children or the fact that we are really considerate about taking the boys home when they freak out, etc.

    we also have in house help (the grandparents) so many a night we could go do late dinners and drinks. but that is such the exception, our lives have changed and i think we realize that and most nights we are too tired to go out and expend that energy on others.

    it does alter so many things, twins. sometimes for the better and sometimes maybe not always. but mostly for the better. i do have most of my non child-ed girlfriends terrified of the thought of twins. whoops.

  11. My husband and I have pretty much come to terms with not having much of a social life until our twins {now 8 months} are at least a year {since I bf}. They do well if we stick to a schedule, but it’s been tough to be the schedule/nap/mealtime police enforcement with relatives who just don’t understand.

    I don’t think people understand what life is like with multiples until they come in and actually see it. Even with friends with one kid, they have no clue how much more time it takes to do things with 2 kids instead of one, until they come see what it’s like.

    I laughed through this whole post because it is almost exactly how our lives were when we had newborns….ah, memories. Things are much better now, Thank God! But, I, too, miss my friends.

  12. I blogged about this recently. We’re only 4 months into parenting but I’ve found that my childless friends are a lot more supportive and keep in touch better than those who are parents. And it’s easier to hang out with them, too (no competing kid schedules). I’m astonished by how little passive or active support we’re receiving from some friends and relatives. Having twins really seems to put up a barrier.

  13. This post hit home for me for me Rebecca. Yes, I enjoy my “new” friends – the ones I can get together with as a family. But, man, there are some older ones I’d love to be able to have in my life the way they used to be. I also miss happy hours and the random Sunday morning that turns into afternoon and then evening and I have done nothing but lie on the couch and watch Lifetime movies. Oh well, I guess I can have that stuff back in 18 years, right? :-)

  14. Wow, you pretty much described exactly what my husband and I went through. It was the hardest time in our marriage for sure, because his friends kept calling him to hang out (they couldn’t seem to understand why this wasn’t going to be possible) and my friends practically disappeared. We lived Washington, DC and had a very active ‘city lifestyle’ which we promptly left to move to the suburbs and be near family. I miss that old life a lot, but I wouldn’t change where we are now for the world. We’ve met so many other friends and neighbors with kids and their lifestyle and priorities fit with ours. It was a huge relief!!

  15. Cynthia, you got it exactly right. No more lazy weekend days where you just wake up whenever, do whatever. Maybe go out for lunch at 2 in the afternoon, who cares. HA! Somehow, my kids don’t fully appreciate that type of weekend just yet.

    Other than that, though, I will play devil’s advocate on this one. Before having kids, a lot of our friends had (for various reasons) left town. We were suddenly young childless married people, with no friends nearby, and living in the ‘burbs. Not that we were ever the swingin’ city types, anyways. I was actually, if anything, a little bored and lonely. Having kids, and twins in particular, actually opened up a whole new world of friends and a whole different kind of social life.

    So, yes, I miss the casual, carefree spontaneity of having no kids. DEFINITELY. And there are college friends who are still without kids that don’t quite understand why it is that my life revolves around naptimes. But, for me, those friends are long-distance, anyways. So there was actually a net improvement for me when the kids were born.

  16. I’m mostly commenting for Alexis’ sake. :) I agree with much of this post in regards to having twins and the impact it will have on your social life.

    But we must be lucky. I agree that some of our childless friends have actually been easier to keep up with than our friends with kids. No competing schedules. Many of our childless friends have been flexible and understanding, some even coming over after bedtime with food and wine!

    I don’t get out as much as I’d like to, and I certainly don’t get to do the same things I used to, but it’s not too bad…it’s just different.

    Oh, and my husband and I started taking our kids out to restaurants EARLY. You just have to pick a good time for their schedule (for us it is 4pm), and pick a place that is noisier so it won’t matter if they fuss (believe it or not, Hooters is great for this.) We were unwilling to sacrifice eating out and now our twins are used to it.

  17. Hmmm, the old childless days. Yes, sometimes I pine for them. I miss going to book talks the most. Getting that first edition signed and smacked into my hot little hands, then getting coffee or wine and discussing the talk with friends and husband. Those were the days! Would I ever bring my twins to a book talk? No, nay, never. Luckily, there are no book talks on this island anyway, so I’m not missing anything. I’ve still got my memories…

  18. Wow-this was well put and so nice to hear exactly how it has been for us since our oldest was born. We are finally reconnecting with some childless friends that are now onto having their own, but it’s been lonely sometimes and hard. Thank you for putting it so well!

  19. Yup, I’m with Tracy. In a lot of ways, my childless friends are easier to keep up with. They have no charming little distractions of their own, no unforgiving schedules, they stay up late enough to either go out or come over after baby bedtime. And they’ve been really understanding about twin breastfeeding (nothing discreet about it!) and all the joys of young babes.

    It’s my friends that are new mommies that I mourn for. We’re all so distracted, that even when we get together there’s not much quality interactions. And our parenting is different enough that there’s not much conversation. We’re all so afraid of offending each other. We need to loosen up and enjoy each other, but how to manage it?

    We also got out early and fairly constantly. Choosing your time and place are key. A high ambient noise level is great. We’ve had good luck in a couple restaurants in our train station (we live near DC’s Union Station). Very stroller friendly, any noise the babies made gets drowned out, and they’re open at all hours.

    There’s hope!

  20. I am missing my pre-babies friends too. I miss being able to have an indepth conversation. This is all too hard while trying to keep babies happy.

    I would love to see a post about getting baby sitters. We don’t go out without the babies often. Our ten month old twins are in bed by 7:30 at the latest and usually sleep through the night. We don’t live near family or long time friends. Do we need two sitters? Do we need to pay them both the full customary amount (that adds up very quickly when doubled)? I’m a first time mom so I am new at babysitters all together. What age baby sitters are appropriate for 2 babies under the age of one.

    Other than when we have been visiting family we have only had baby sitters twice. Both times we had two sitters. The fist time the babies slept the entire time. The second time my daughter made some noise, the young girls when in a picked her up. By the time we got home after just an hour in and a half she was very upset and crying. I put her in bed and she went right to sleep.

  21. Just thought I would offer my two cents as the single friend. When my pals got on the baby bandwagon I didn’t know what to do. Oh I gave the showers and awesome gifts, lined up food for the first couple of weeks etc. But I didn’t know what to do after I left the hospital from oohing over the wrinkly, old-man looking baby. I understand it’s a life changing event; I know schedules are important, but I’m not there and I don’t know the schedule. Plus I work a minimum of 8-5. That doesn’t exactly leave baby-friendly time. So here’s my advice: call/email/text your friend, ask them to pick up a DVD and a bottle of wine (or something fun and non-alcoholic) and say you’re ordering pizza or whatever. Personally I have no issue with lounging on my friend’s bed, alternating between gazing at the baby, talking about the more surprising twists of parenthood, complaining about traffic and watching the movie. …okay, that was a close friend and may not easily apply to everyone. But as the childless friend I wait for a signal. I don’t want to butt in and rush people; I don’t know what is doable.

  22. Rusted Sun

    To ease the babysitter into the rhythm of twins have the person come over one afternoon to chat with you and play with the kids. That way they can watch how you interact with twins and how you deal with both when they fuss. From my experience the hardest thing to get through my head was that I probably wouldn’t break them and they honestly wouldn’t starve if they had to wait ten minutes while I fed one then the other. The mom I nannied for was awesome. She made it very clear that as long as they were safe that was all that mattered. Also, remember that you have had a huge learning curve; the sitter(s) will make mistakes (IE: pick her up when she should be left alone) but you can bet that that sitter won’t do that again. Have faith. It takes time to get into the rhythm of babysitting, and babysitting twins.

    One older babysitter is plenty. If you get a 17+ you will be paying a higher rate, $8-12 (or more) depending on where you live (I checked out rates on craigslist). Personally I think younger ones would have a hard time with two10-month-olds. That’s a lot of responsibility. As the kids get older I wouldn’t be afraid to go with some younger ones. In my experience they’re more willing to get on the floor and really play.

    Another option is to hire a younger sitter and take the babies to her/his house. Way back when I did this often and my mom would then help me out but it was me that got paid.

    If you have questions about finding a babysitter I probably wouldn’t try Craigslist. If you go to church ask their nursery attendants. They often know of some teenagers/adults who are up to it. Also, google home schooler groups for your area. Not all are bible-thumping, hair-down-to-there, skirt-wearing geniuses. Also, they would have a great schedule to work with: mornings, afternoons and even late nights (depending on how their folks schedule their schooling). One other place to look is the community ed.; Red Cross offers a babysitters class, I would just ask the instructor for some names and numbers.

    (P.S., sorry this is so long)

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