Stop Being a Jackass to Your Mom Friends

Orly Minazad
Orly Minazad is a freelance writer and regrets it every day of her life. She moved to the States from Iran in 1991 with her family seeking better opportunities only to waste them earning a Masters in Professional Writing degree from USC which no longer exists, cost a lot of money, and for which she has nothing to show. No, she is not bitter at all. Why do you ask? Oh, you didn’t, ok. She lives with her husband and son in Los Angeles where she spends the day loading and unloading the dishwasher.

I came across an article on The Cut called Adorable Little Detonators: Our friendship survived bad dates, illness, marriage, fights. Why can’t it survive your baby? Maybe it was the stupid title that caught my attention (well played) but I immediately hated it. And then I actually read it. And you know what, I hated it even more.

This was a very long-winded way of saying you hate kids and are mad at your friends for having them. It is the most tone-deaf, self indulgent account of one person’s existential crisis brought on by other people’s decisions to have children.

It’s the bemoaning of how your friends with kids don’t revolve their lives around your social life that does it for me. It’s the very long pity party about how hard it is to maintain relationships with friends who give birth to little life ruiners.

Before I get into why this is the worst friend you can have, I want to make it clear that I’m not shaming anyone about whether they should love or have babies. I have a kid and even I’m not a big fan of some babies and kids. Including ones in my own family and social circle. It’s the least of my problems whether other people decide to have children or not. There are too many people on the planet and those good Samaritans who decide not to add to the already unbearable LA traffic are truly doing the Lord’s work. So God bless.

But babies exist and yes, your friendship can definitely survive them, but it probably can’t survive your constant bitching and moaning about what an inconvenience your friend’s baby is when really it’s your own delusions about life you need to come to terms with.

“When did all of my interesting friends become so conventional and heteronormie?” she begs the question. “I felt disappointed in the squaring of my friend group. I’d imagined my adult life as a certain kind of dinner party attended by people who lived all sorts of different lives, with and without marriage and children, who sought out all different sorts of experiences, who weren’t so traditional.”

It’s not Baby Billy’s fault that you didn’t grow up to be Carrie Bradshaw.

Yes, it is challenging to maintain friendships once marriage and kids get into the picture. No one is denying that. Most people have figured out how to navigate around it because there are plenty of other factors besides kids that can alter relationships, as the author mentions.

But that’s not what this article is about. She acknowledges the challenges mothers and fathers face with new babies, and twice, in passing, mentions how money and childcare are factors in whether your friends can make it to a night out. (Yeah, it’s a major factor. Childcare is expensive as fuck and no one wants to spend $200 on a sitter to hang with assholes.) But essentially it’s about how she’s sad and mourns the life she could have had if only her friends weren’t such baby sluts.

“Babies,” she says, “those little assholes, really do show up in our lives like a popular girl transferring into school in the middle of the semester. Their sudden presence, though welcomed, coveted, hard won, and considered a blessing to their parents, throws the social order into disarray.”

I’m not invalidating this author’s feelings. She could be truly hurt by her diminishing friendships (though at some point she says it’s not “that” bad). What she’s not seeing is that it’s her, not them.

I mean would you want to hang with someone who says, “I’ve felt judged, as if my friends were treating my decision to remain child-free as transitional, despite my once having shown up to a baby shower bemoaning how insane I felt thanks to the Plan B I’d taken the night before and declaring it worth it because ‘no fucking way did I want a baby’.”

I’m going to guess you’re not that fun at parties. It’s a fucking baby shower. Read the room. If you’re truly miserable, don’t go. If you’re not in a place to celebrate someone’s joy or milestones, don’t go. We’ve all been in a position where challenging or tragic personal matters coincided with a friend’s celebration, and that’s when we make the decision to politely decline (totally reasonable) or to go and not make it all about us and our misery.

Her kind of outlook is not only going to affect relationships with new parents, who don’t have the time to cater to a self-absorbed adult attention whore because they have a self-absorbed infant attention whore they love and need to tend to. Other non-parents are eventually going to stop wanting to hang with someone who’s so emotionally needy and manipulative too.

“Some days, I look at my friends who have had children and am awash in gratitude and admiration,” she says very unironically. “Other days, I have two tickets to Shucked, and nobody can get a sitter, and my remaining childless friends have already booked themselves with three dinners and two concerts and, like, an orgy”.

Like a what?

Personally, I’d be too preoccupied trying to get in on these alleged orgies with my single friends to be annoyed at Baby Billy.

The truth is, any adult, with or without children, will make the time for friends or family they want to see.

My best friend growing up is single, traveling and working. We don’t talk, text or even wish each other happy birthday anymore. We’re completely disconnected. It has nothing to do with me being married and having a kid. It has everything to do with the fact that we truly don’t have anything in common anymore. We’re not bitter or angry or feeling inclined to write a 5,000 word article about how to blame either one of our life choices for what’s become of our friendship. We’re just two grown-ass women with different values and interests.

Another mutual friend, also single and child-free, always reaches out to hang with the rest of us who have kids, and after 700 texts back and forth, we agree on a time and place. We get dinner, discuss our lives, kids, husbands, boyfriends, hopes and dreams and then go home at a decent hour because we’re all 40 and tired. And it takes us a couple of years to do it again and we’re all OK with this. We fill the time texting memes about how dumb men are, something we can all relate to.

The very same article cites author and chef Samin Nosrat, who doesn’t have kids nor does she plan on having them but has figured out a way to be there for her friends with kids and vice versa. She cooks every Monday night and welcomes whoever can make it. Cooking for a bunch of people every week sounds like my nightmare, but the point is, she found a way and people make an effort to come because they care and appreciate her effort. (Also how do I get invited to this?)

Or take our very own Dustin and Emily. Dustin and his wife, whose name I believe is Dr. Rachel, don’t have kids and don’t want them. Emily doesn’t either. They’re all very clear about this (too clear if you ask me!) but they’re completely there for their friends who do have kids. Dustin’s friend’s son called to tell him he was stoned for the first time and wanted to discuss the film Limitless. And Emily’s friend has designated her as “the birth control aunt for her daughters,” whatever the hell that means. [Ed. note: As a mom of daughters, I get what it means and Emily is the correct choice!–Laura]

Your childfree friends are among the most important relationships you, and especially your kids, will ever have. There’s nothing more I’d want for my son than to feel comfortable enough to call Dustin when he’s stoned for the first time to talk about Limitless because neither me nor his father will be interested.

My single or childfree friends have so much patience because they don’t have kids of their own forcing them to look at hideous Minecraft worlds they’ve built all day. They give and love so freely and feel a deep relief when they know they get to go back to their quiet and clean homes. There’s no guilt trip when you can’t make a weeknight happy hour because you’re busy tending to a sick kid, or can’t get a sitter or you’re just tired and don’t want to.

I’m not sure if the author of The Cut article is sad or bored when she’s around her mom friends. “I was re-rehashing the details of a recent situationship that had defined my summer,” she says. “She [her friend] mm-hmmed absent-mindedly and nuzzled her son as he ate a peach. It was a sweet moment between them, and though I was touched to see my friend as fully Mom, she was so distracted (or focused, depending on the perspective) she didn’t notice as I trailed off. I snapped a photo of the two of them and then just stared at my phone in silence, wondering who else I could start hanging out with.”

The article is chock full of her playing the victim. But then admitting, “My friend Liz overheard and reminded me that I had once mom-blocked her: She had just had her second child, it was her birthday weekend, and I threw a backyard barbecue with all of our friends and didn’t invite her.” Then she continues to make it even worse by saying, “What I didn’t tell her, and I guess she’s finding out now, is that though I didn’t mean to hurt her, the slight wasn’t completely unintentional. Her second baby had kicked off my friend group’s baby boomlet. A bigger part of me than I would like to admit was irritated.”

In what world do you write this, read it and not think “Oh wait, maybe I’m the asshole who didn’t bother inviting my friend to my party because she had a baby, so maybe I shouldn’t bitch about how they’re not giving me the attention I want”?

If you’re unable to maintain friendships because a child comes into the picture, you can either choose to let that friendship die a cold hard death or you can make an effort, like Samin Nosrat, or Dustin and Emily, or this very funny Gabrielle Chase whose videos my nieces keep sending to me. But you really don’t have to make that effort if you don’t want to and are unhappy in the presence of children or parents. Some people genuinely dislike kids and that’s OK. There’s zero obligation to maintain relationships that are not serving you.

But you’re also obligated to not be an asshole with a victim complex and unreasonable expectations. That kind of attitude will never get you invited to orgies.

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