A funny thing happens to your friendship ecosystem when you have a baby. There is a huge chemical shift, almost creating an imbalance of sorts, like electrons running amok in an sp2 orbital (those of you who don’t get science, look it up). Or read this.
As if marriage wasn’t bad enough for friendship. Various friendship tests had to be passed in ours (with my friends mostly, since I am the one who has more history with friends) and he had to be voted either ‘really nice’ or ‘really fun’. Somehow, the husband managed one or both. As for his, the friends were as old as the last clubbing night, and all you had to do was cheer Man U , hug like you’re long-lost buddies who’ve met after years, think costume parties are cool and you passed muster.
For the first two years in our marriage, we were doing fine, and had a roaring social life, despite the disparity in our friends (mine did books, his did shots).
And then the baby happened. Things changed.
Single women suddenly flew off the radar (there are exceptions and you know who you are). I don’t know if it was because we were no longer set-up potential, i.e. we were more likely to know married people with babies, and not necessarily single men so what was the point? Or whether we were in-your-face reminders of how they would like their life to be extrapolated. Or we drew attention to their tick-tock biological clock? Or that they were so used to not having conversation that it was suddenly too tedious? (when you have a baby, you tend to go to places where you can be heard). Or that no matter how hard you tried, they always slotted you as smug-married?
The married-with-no-kids were too busy trying to get pregnant, or trying not to. Or pretending they had the cooler life and didn’t really care about their clocks.
Single men took a deeper interest in you. (Get it, biaatches? If only you had stuck around!). They wonder if this would be their life if they had met women who were interested in their wombs. Also, a child is good arm candy for a single guy. Good with kids = good marriage potential, and so his equity in the market soars up. I have had so many single guys taking to my baby that I am seriously considering them for baby-sitting on a rainy day. And unlike single women, single men are not ashamed to acknowledge their clock.
New male friends are not welcome by the husband, unless they are spectacularly ugly, really short, love Man U or are gaming buffs. Gay best friend is no longer an option as the husband is homophobic.
You almost wonder. Where have all our friends gone?
And then you realise, you have a bunch of new ones. The married-with-kids. The We- are-as-fucked-as-you are couples. These sooner or later gravitated towards you, whatever your history with them.
Now this is where the power struggle among couples begins.
Two men. Two women. A baby or two. Plenty of dynamics.
You like him, she doesn’t like you. Or you like her, he doesn’t like him. Or he likes him, but he doesn’t like her. Or you both like them equally, but the babies don’t get along. Or you like them both and the babies like each other, but they live in a different city.
There are other types:
- Friends who are so working so hard on weekdays that they just want to sack on weekends. Or get trashed with other singletons (somehow a baby seems to demand a code of conduct most people are not willing to put work into)
- Friends who are looking for that job with the perfect work-life balance. I read somewhere that it means both your work and your life are equally fucked.
- Friends who are always “wanting to ask you over”, but don’t, for some strange reason.
- Friends who say, drop in anytime, but never say when.
- Friends who forget to reply to emails or messages or (sic!) wall posts. Or ask for a raincheck!
- I don’t want to get into the hothouse for friends, although there was a time when I met random people every Friday and pretended that they were my best friends. I notice that while people are all very effusive when they meet you, how many homes have you been invited to in the last month? Okay, three months? I mean really invited, not told to ‘drop in anytime’?
I don’t much care about birthdays or anniversaries, but if you don’t hear from me in a month, call /email/ do something. That’s what friends are for. Not random bumping and then saying, “Oh, I was just thinking of you!” No, you were so not. I know a bad lie when I hear one.
So I have decided. I need new friends, because I am tired of working on the old ones and their issues. Applications are invited.
Here is the deal: You should be funny. And compassionate. It is a very tough combination, but I am worth it. Also, you should be willing to do the work. At least some of it. Which means making plans. Calling us over. Showing up when we invite you. Thinking weekend getaways. Baby-friendly trips. Lunches. Dinners. Drinks. Games. Whatever you can manage. It doesn’t matter if you are single or married. Baby or no baby. Old or young. Proactive is the key word. Creative is even better.
Okay, here’s a sales pitch. I am good with food. The husband is a great bartender. We have a gorgeous baby and two cats. We are both funny (in different ways). But we have finally decided that we will do the work only to those who do unto us. All you have to do is earn it.