Tuesday, July 12, 2016

5 Things I Love About My Child-Free Friends

For me, having children was a no-brainer. I mean that literally. I just always assumed I would have kids, one day I decided it was time to do it, and I was lucky enough to be able to just do it when I decided it was time. I put zero conscious thought into what I would be giving up or what I would be gaining. 

I've now been a mom for almost 9 years. What I gained (so far) is a fierce, instinctive love--and the terrifying vulnerability that goes with it--for two humans that I now cannot imagine life without. 

What I lost was a lot of sleep, muscle tone in my stomach and boobs, some of my own identity, and a ton of personal freedom.

I've written about this before, but not for awhile. I love all my parent friends, of course; but spending time with some of my child-free (read: not child "less") friends this past weekend reminded me how much I appreciate having people without kids in my life.

Here are just five of many reasons why:

1. They make me feel human: My child-free friends remind me of myself, how I was before I had kids, and how I exist apart from parenthood. They make me feel whole in a way that other mothers and fathers can't, because they extract from me the essence of myself as myself, as opposed to the essence of myself as a mother.

2. They are unselfish: I was shocked to learn that some of my child-free friends are called "selfish" by their friends with kids, supposedly on the ground that they don't want to give up the freedom in their lives in service of raising children. I don't understand that logic. Having kids is objectively more selfish than not having them, especially if you have them biologically. Putting another human on the planet is bad for the environment and consumes an enormous amount of resources. It's natural to want to reproduce and propagate your genes even though you know the planet can't support it, so consciously deciding not to do that is quite literally the opposite of selfish.

3. They have tons of energy for my kids: It's an unfair stereotype that people without kids dislike kids. Some people wanted to have kids but couldn't; others chose not to try and/or not to adopt. As to the latter category, they probably feel about kids the way I feel about dogs and boats: other people's dogs and boats are tons of fun, they just don't want the 24/7 expense and responsibility that comes with them. I totally get that. Without exception, every one of my child-free friends is great with my kids and enjoys playing with them and being around them. They are an amazing resource for my kids and for me.

4. They have energy and time to put toward adult friendships: My child-free friends are whole, complete human beings either single, with partners, pets, and responsibilities/busy lives of their own. However, not having human dependents to cater to at all hours of the day and night means they generally have more resources to put toward adult friendships. I really appreciate that; how they are more apt to travel with me, go on hikes, go out to dinner, and certainly spend time talking about things besides kids--i.e., the world as I knew it before I had children, and as I continue to try to know it now.

5. My kids love them: See #3 above. It takes a village, as the saying goes, to raise a child. As far as I'm concerned, the more positive adult influences in my kids' lives, the better off they will be. Parents spend a lot of their time and energy just trying to meet their kids' basic needs every day, which is why my kids absolutely adore my friends without kids. They know they can count on them to read books, play games, take them for ice cream, have sleepovers, be silly, and spend time with them in ways their parents lack the energy to do. Still--my kids are smart enough to know that only grandparents will buy them made-in-China crap like plush shark and squid hats at an aquarium gift shop.

Bottom line: three cheers for the child-free!

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