What Friendships Are Like for Me as a Mom in My 30s


Who knew this movie would be so relevant?

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

photo booth photos

A few months ago, work was slow, the office was empty, and I decided to take myself to see Bad Moms. I figured writing about how horrible it was would be a pretty easy, reasonably interesting essay. So I bought some pretzel bites (yum), took some solo photos in the photo booth (why not), and went to sit by myself in a blissfully quiet theater. Because, you know, I have two kids under the age of four, and a bunch of employees, and a nearly endless to-do list and super over-scheduled life. So going to see a frivolous, potentially awful movie by myself while everyone thought I was working at the office is basically the height of luxury in my life right now. To everything there is a season, right?

And then… it wasn’t terrible. Well, I mean, parts of it were. (The early plot is basically Clueless, but with thirty-year-olds, now that the Clueless generation is solidly in our mid-thirties. Related: why we have to depict grown-ass women acting like high school girls is beyond me. And the wild drinking single mom is beyond a negative stereotype, and I could go on…) But surprisingly, the core of the movie was simply about friendship—real, normal, raw friendship between three moms in their thirties. Media depictions of friendship at this age are so rare it was apparently enough to make a whole movie about what happens when moms make friends. (Moms! They go rogue! They drink at bars, and have dance parties, and refuse to bake for bake sales, and generally put their own interests first! THEY’RE BAD MOMS!)

A few years ago, I probably would have thought the plot of the movie was both ridiculous and depressing. Does motherhood have to be like this? No. But four years into parenting, with two small children, I think the answer is no, but also… yes.

Because no, I don’t have to be some sort of robotic Stepford wife who gets a perfectly cooked meal on the table every night for my ungrateful husband and kids. And the Variety review of Bad Moms (by a dad, obviously, because why hire a mom to review a movie about motherhood?) actually apparently me makes me tired: “It’s a comedy about, and for, the current generation of over-stressed, overworked, overly perfectionistic—and, as often as not, under-appreciated—mothers. But will they have the time and inclination to get away and see it? Let’s hope so, because the laughter this movie offers could provide cathartic medicine for the middle-class mom blues.” Because am I overly perfectionistic? (Is that a word?) No. But am I overtired? Yep. And am I under-appreciated? No, because I’d leave my damn partner if he didn’t understand what I do because HE WAS ALSO DOING IT HIMSELF.  And do I have time to see the movie? Well, apparently yes.

But once we get past the stereotypes, Bad Moms does nail some truths. Because yes, as the joke in the movie goes, I have actually dreamed of waking up mostly uninjured in a hospital with a nurse to take care of my every need. Because I’m crazy? No, probably because I’m sane, and I have spent the last four years taking care of other humans literally 24/7. And yes, I regularly fantasize about just eating a slow, quiet, breakfast… alone. Not because HAHAHAHA MOMS ARE REDIC AM I RIGHT? But because I so rarely get to just sit with my thoughts. All of this while loving everything about my kids in huge enormous, life-changing amounts… including their crazy exhausting messes and how they can’t get through two minutes without a compulsive need to touch me.

Which leads me to the question that brought me to the movie in the first place: How does friendship look for women in their late-twenties and thirties? Particularly, how does friendship look for women of any age with young kids, a demanding job (or jobs), partners, or some choose-your-own-adventure combination of enormous responsibilities?

In Bad Moms, the friendship so wild and crazy that the word “Bad” is applied to it, looks to me a lot like regular old friendship. The kind where you go to a bar and drink and bitch about the annoying parts of your life. Where you go out to lunch. Where you invite your girlfriends to a party at your house where you (gasp!) dance and drink booze. Where you hang out because you honestly like each other. The problem is that having friendships like that is dependent on a few things: having a partner who lets you get away from the kids, not feeling like you have to subsume all your personal interests to the overwhelming force of motherhood, and not bowing to the enormous societal pressure to act “mom appropriate” at all times (because the media seems to push a particular idea of what moms should listen to/wear/read/think about/eat/the list is literally endless). Not to mention the pressure for moms to only hang out with other moms (relevant).

But here is the thing, straight up: maintaining friendships when you’re in your mid-thirties with a small child or two and a career going full steam ahead is complicated. Not too many years ago I had roommates I was friends with. I had time to go out to bars on a moment’s notice. I could pull late-late-night weekend outings. I could call a friend at 9pm because I just wanted to shoot the shit for an hour.

On the most basic level, these days it’s hard to simply find the time. My life is broken up into work time, putting the kids to bedtime, chore time, sitting exhausted on the couch time, and juggle kids and chores and husband weekend time. It is a constant effort for me to carve out moments for the two of us as a couple, or just for me by myself. (Because, GIRL, sometimes you just need to be alone with your thoughts and with no one touching you. Or Grey’s Anatomy and no one touching you.) To also layer friends into that equation is complex.

So finding a model of what friendships in your thirties should look like is helpful… and can be hard to find. When I polled the APW staff and friends about media depictions of thirty-something women friends (who have kids), the result was rough. The end of Sex and the City, where two of them had kids? Later seasons of Grey’s? Uh, Bad Moms? Not much… else? Women with children (or as we depict them in the media, “Moms”) seem to be mostly shown with their families. What’s their social life like? Play dates, one assumes.

And really, this is what got me to go see Bad Moms. While the previews made the movie (which was written by men, btw) look like a train-wreck of clichés, at least it was about mid-thirties female friendships. And yes, in some ways, the movie confirmed my worst fear. As moms, and adult women, we are supposed to live within some sort of rigid model of “correct” behavior. One where we put everyone else first, and our real interests and passions and, yes, friendships, fall by the wayside. But within it, the movie also contained a model of the kind of friendships I want more of. The kind where we don’t worry too much about social norms, where we go out and dance on tables, and where we make fun of our husbands and talk about our sex lives while we gently mock our kids (and acknowledge our enormous love for them). I just don’t want that model of friendship to be the outlier, to come within the rubric of “Aren’t we all bad moms?” Because no, we’re totally not.

I’d love to close with a quick pithy conclusion about how I figured out the friendship puzzle. I’d have a snappy little story about this thing I did, the people I met, and the lesson I learned. But, it’s not quite that simple. After all, I went to see Bad Moms on my own. But then I bugged Stephanie (long-time Internet friend, more recent APW Managing Editor) to go see it on her own, and then talk about it with me. Local friendship? No. Friendship? Sure.

And I’ve been working on it. I’ve been trying to talk to my friends who I know through my kids’ school about stuff other than our kids, and I’ve been going to dance class regularly (if you hang around with cool people long enough, you’re bound to make friends). I’m bugging ladies I don’t see often enough for lunch dates, and I’m texting long-distance friends more often. And, really, I’m just trying to shake this idea that women in their thirties need to look or act a particular way—namely the way they looked when we were in high school or college.

I’ve got two kids, a career I love, and a husband I want to spend time with. It’s normal that those things come first. I’ve chosen for these things to come first right now, and that means I have less time for going out to bars. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to snatch moments of time when I can get it.

If you freeze-frame Beyoncé’s 7/11 video, that paragon to mid-thirties women squad goals, her husband and her kid make a split-second appearance. Blue’s tent is all set up in the hotel room. But still, there is Bey, dancing by herself, dancing with her backup dancers, and generally being herself. And that’s about how it goes. Most days I fit friendship and self-care into the freeze-frames, but some days it gets the whole reel. One day soon life will change again, but till then I’m trying to embrace the mess, and grab connection when I can. Not as a mom, good or bad. As a human.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com. #NASTY

Staff Picks

[Read comment policy before commenting]

  • sofar

    Some of my closest friends are now becoming parents, and all of them have expressed fear about “never seeing my friends again.” Honestly, I think it’s up to childless folks to put the effort in to maintain the friendship, especially when the kids are small. Yes, I’m busy, too, but I don’t have a tiny human depending on me for survival. So I go to the kid-friendly bars (with good beer but a fenced in play yard and changing tables in BOTH restrooms). I hang out at their place after the kid goes to bed.

    And, most importantly, I spend one-on-one time with the KID. Because, hey, now you can talk to your friend about all the hilarious shit their kid did all day and bond over how annoying the kid’s favorite show is, but OMG it made them shut up for like 20 minutes. It’s kinda like bonding over the hilarious, annoying shit your mutual friends did while drunk, back in the day: “OMG Kaycee sang the same song for a goddamned hour and then demanded Cheerios and then cried when her shoe came off and then passed out.” Exactly the same.

    • Amy March

      I think it’s up to everyone. Childless folks need to be flexible. Child-having folks need to value their childless friends. Everyone needs to accept that a) babysitters are really expensive and b) babysitters exist for a reason.

      • Ashlah

        Yep, I think it’s absolutely a shared burden that manifests in different ways. My friend was also worried about losing our friendship when she got pregnant, and so was I. We’ve both made the conscious effort to continue reaching out to each other, and my husband and I do our best to be cognizant of what types of get-togethers are easiest for them. We always make it clear that we’re available for both adults-only time and family time, so they know a babysitter isn’t always required for us to spend time together–but that there’s also no judgement if they just need a night away from the kiddo!

      • emmers

        Truth. I’m a pretty flexible childless person (suggesting easy hangouts, willing to bring food, etc). Some mom friends have been super cool and been open to that. Others have disappeared, despite my efforts. Eventually I stop trying, and just stick with the cool mom friends.

      • G.

        Like usual, Amy March nails it.

        Friendships work when they’re mutual. It’s not tit-for-tat, but it is understanding that both parties to a friendship have needs they want fulfilled and obligations they need to fulfill. Putting the burden on one person (the one without kids, the single one, the organized one, the chatty one, the one with a less demanding job….take your pick) doesn’t work, because it’s no longer a mutual deal.

        • sofar

          True, if the parent friend does nothing to preserve the friendship, that’s not going to work. But I do think the childless friend has to meet the parents MORE than halfway, at least when the kid is young — be willing to drive to the parent friend to hang out. Do an early dinner instead of going to that movie you really wanted to see with them. Schedule phone calls around the kid’s naptime. And if the parent friend has to flake because their kid is sick, you have to suck it up.

          Parents are pretty much forced to change their social lives, but you can still carry on as usual. And, to maintain that friendship, you need to make adjustments you technically don’t “have” to make because a kid isn’t forcing you to.

          That’s what I meant. I’m just tired of mutual friends going, “Oh I haven’t seen Molly in MONTHS since she had the baby. She had to miss my birthday party that started at 10pm, and she invited me to come visit her, but she lives out in the burbs. I’m sick of my friends disappearing when they have kids.” and I’m like, “Dude Molly is super chill about people coming over and hanging out anytime. Drive 15 minutes and do that, or stop complaining.”

          • G.

            I agree that flexibility and adjustments are required, but I firmly disagree that “you can still carry on as usual.” Because when all your friends partner off and have kids, you can’t — you either have no friends left and are lonely or everyone is working together to sustain friendship. I’m more than happy to go to someone’s house to chill. I’m happy to work around a kid’s bedtime — sometimes I can’t make a 5 pm weekday dinner, but I can chill over a glass of wine in the living room at 8. I can travel more easily to someone else, but if I’m putting in that time and money, please make sure I get to see my adult friend in addition to hanging out with the family.

            The biggest difference between my friends with kids with whom I’ve maintained solid friendships and those that are teetering are the degree to which both people are finding ways to reach out and work with the other person’s needs. The friend with a newborn who sends a text to check in versus the one who hasn’t communicated first in years; the one who invites people over to hand out halloween candy with her v the one who won’t flex her schedule to meet up when I’m in her far-away city for a conference.

            {I also think there tend to be a lot of presumptions about how single or childless people in their 30s and 40s are spending their time — I’m not hanging out in bars or going to midnight movies or spontaneously cooking 5 hour dinners. When I’ve got a big work deadline and have no one else to rely on for basic household care, there are many things that fall by the wayside, and when that friend drops off a jar of soup, well, that’s huge in the same way it’s huge when people bring you meals b/c you had a baby or there was a family death.}

          • Amy March

            I have one dear dear friend with a one year old who lives close by- the day she texted me at 9am after she knew I had a really late night and said “we are on our way over to drop off a bagel with bacon egg and cheese and an iced tea, don’t worry about getting out of your pajamas, we are happy to stay and hear all about the party or leave you in hungover peace” meant so so much to me, as did the flowers when I got a new job. I don’t expect that level of effort all the time, or even ever really, but it was so special that she took the time out of her busy baby-centric life to think about me.

          • G.

            exactly! it doesn’t have to be constant, but the occasional gesture makes a huge difference.

          • sofar

            re: “No friends left”

            I’ve lost some friends to parenthood and had to make new friends. It can suck and be a painful, but that’s just the natural order of things — the ebb and flow and churn of friendships throughout your life, as you find people you can relate to. I may only keep a handful of parent-friends in my life and lose most of the rest, and that’s OK, because that frees up time for new people. But there are a few parent friends I know are lifelong-friend material, so I make sure I’m doing double-duty now to nurture those friendships when they may not have the energy to do so.

            My optimism may change when I hit my 40s and EVERYONE has kids, but lots of my closest friends are in their 40s and living their best life (and building new friendships to replace those that withered), and I hope to do the same.

          • G.

            I agree that shifting friendships are part of the natural ebb and flow of life. But I also think it’s easy to underestimate how lonely people can get as this occurs, that getting “left behind” comes with its own set of challenges. My life does not look like my life in my 20s, which had larger circles of people floating in and out. There’s no doubt that some of this is particular to moving and other parts of my life circumstances, but I think conventional narratives talk about parents getting lonely and feeling a sense of loss without noting that it also happens to non-parents. And that can be more acute because when people your age generally have kids and you don’t, it can be really challenging to even enter, much less be accepted, in those circles. Which I think gets back to friendship going both ways and requiring effort for everyone involved.

          • sofar

            Agreed. And in some areas it’s harder to go out and find new people. My current city is great for that. Where I used to live was not, and I would probably die alone there.

          • laddibugg

            Yeah. When I was home the first few months, I was open to people coming over ‘whenever’. I mean, the baby didn’t care if it was 3 pm or 1 am.

      • sofar

        Not saying it’s ALL on the childless person to maintain the friendship. But it is on them to be flexible and open to change. The parent has no choice but to change their lifestyle. The childless person still has the choice to maintain the pre-kid lifestyle but has to CHOOSE to adjust that a bit. And that means doing parent-friendly things.

        I’d say “meet halfway,” but I really do think the childless person has to cover a little more ground. So, while, yes the parent friend needs to make time and headspace to maintain the friendship, the childless person has to be willing to drive to meet the parents at a place where they can hang out. Or not go to the usual bars. Or work around the kid’s naptime. Or schedule things in advance and not last minute. And if I have kids and my friends’ kids are a little older and don’t need as much care, I’ll expect the same.

        • Amy March

          I’m totally on board with childless people meeting their friends with kids more than half-way, I just think it’s important to also recognize that parents have choices too, and if friendships are important to them they need to also be involved in making it work.

    • idkmybffjill

      I also totally daydream about the relationships I’ll have with my friends kids when they’re grown ups! My dad and stepmom have AMAZING friendships that they’ve had for as long as I can remember. All those folks just came to my wedding and it was really important to me to see how long those friendships have lasted, and I think touching for the friends to know how important they were to me. I hope one day I can be that person for my friends kids too!

      • stephanie

        My son is an only child, and as such he hangs with adults a LOT, and I sometimes think about how cool it will be for him to still know some of those same adults when he’s an adult. I look forward to knowing him as an adult, but also equally look forward to some of our close friends knowing him then, too. This was a great comment to read. ♥

        • idkmybffjill

          Oh I’m so glad! My brother and I have functionally… both been only children. I’m 12 years older, so basically we both grew up hanging out with grown ups. I think it’s shaped me in some important ways that I really value! In alot of ways my own friendships mirror my parents, and I hope my future kids will have a similar experience!

          • stephanie

            Ahhh yessss keep piling on the positive only child stories!

          • idkmybffjill

            Ha! I love this. I feel like only children kind of get shade – but I think it’s made me a better friend. I’ve never had built in friendships like close in age siblings have, so I’ve always had to cultivate them. (I sort of think of myself as an only child because of our age difference + the fact that we lived full time in seperate houses, my brother until recently was alot more like a nephew).

            My husband is also an only child! It’s helped us navigate the weight of parental relationships more easily, because neither of us have ever really felt like we could just leave our parents alone for holidays… which has admittedly been a little trickier since we’ve been together. But we both understand it.

            I have always wanted a bunch of kids, but wouldn’t be surprised if after we have one we were both like, “Yeah. This is what makes sense to us!”.

          • stephanie

            I thought we would have a ton of kids, but we realized pretty early that one was the best plan for us, and we’ve all been pretty happy with it. My son is definitely also very, very social—he reaches out to new kids all the time to get their parent’s contact info so they can hang, and he’s already such a sweet friend. I also think it’s a little funny the way people will be like “oh, siblings have built in friends!” I’m 1 of 4, and while my youngest two siblings are very close (my brother lives with my sister and her husband), they’re also like 15 months apart. I love my siblings, but the rest of us all don’t speak to one another with a lot of regularity, and I never had a sense of a built in friend.

            Thanks for chatting it out! I definitely think only children get shade, but it’s not typically warranted. I’m all in for all the positive reassurance. :)

          • Amy March

            Lol at built in friends. My sister is a great friend now, a development that dates only to when we both moved out of our parents’ house and to colleges three hours away from each other.

          • A.

            My husband and his sister joke that they talk on the phone every day now to make up for the 15 years of never even looking at the other, unless it was to levy a punch in the eye.

          • Sara

            I would say that I have built in friends with my brothers but only because we moved a lot when we were kids, so at time we were literally each others only local friends for a few moments in childhood. But I’ve seen enough crazy family dynamics to know that’s rare. My dad is one of seven and I think he likes one sister? Maybe?

          • idkmybffjill

            See that’s so funny to me! I guess most of my friends with close siblings are all besties with them.

            It’s funny cause it’s definitely a different generation, but my version of your son asking for parents contact info was straight up just seeing a person on my street and walking over and knocking on their door. Like “Hi, I see that you are a kid, do you want to be my friend!”. Between that and being in day care/moving a few times when I was really young I think led to me being pretty good at starting new friendships. I feel pretty brave about being like, “Hello I like you would like you to hang out with me?”.

          • emmers

            My friends have an awesome only child. She’s maybe 12? I used to worry about what it would be like if I were only able to have one kid, and with her I’ve seen that it can be awesome. My dental hygienist also has an only child, and all of her wonderful stories about her awesome daughter also swayed me. My colleague too has an only child (a son), who’s now part way through college. If/when we have kids, I’m much less worried about only having one, because there are some awesome only children/parents of only children.

          • Danielle

            My BFF is an only child, and is truly one of the best humans I know <3

          • I find it so odd that people think it’s negative to be an only child. I’m one and so is my bf and I’ve never found it weird. People of any amount of siblings (or not) can be selfish and self-focused and I don’t think it has much of anything to do with whether someone has siblings. I think it has to do with how you are raised. My only concern (and my concern since I was young) is just caring for my parents as they age. But after hearing stories of siblings disagreeing on how to care or seeing one sibling doing almost all the work and having other siblings with lots of opinions (and no effort)….well, maybe it will be easier to be on my own making decisions about that, even if it is hard.

      • sofar

        I’ve gone to Vegas with my parents’ friends and had a BALL. They changed my diapers as a baby and now we can all get drunk together. It’s awesome.

      • Ashlah

        Yes! I’ve had a blast being honorary aunt to my friends’ toddler, and I often think about what our relationship will be like when she’s older. It’s rad.

        • G.

          Yep, there are several parents’ friends I adore and make an effort to see on my own when I’m home or they’re in my city. I hope to have similar relationships with some of my friends’ kids when they’re older.

      • Lawyerette510

        Yes! I look at my friends’ kids and I just hope that at least one of them will feel about me the way I feel about a couple of my mom’s closest friends from when I was a kid (which is to see them somewhere between a friend and a family member in all the best ways).

    • Elisa

      Well, I completely lost my relationship with my best friend after she had children and I didn’t. It didn’t happen all at once; it happened gradually. It was fairly easy to maintain the friendship when she was at home with the children. But once she went to work, we slowly lost touch as her life became impossibly busy. Have not talked in years.

      I think it was easier back in the day. I hear from my grandmother that mothers would get together in each others houses because they were all at home. We beat ourselves up, but two-career couples with kids just don’t have much leftover time. Only so many hours in a day and both husbands and wives in dual career families have to do more to keep the ship running.

      • stephanie

        “We beat ourselves up, but two-career couples with kids just don’t have much leftover time. ” this this this.

      • K

        Yeah, I was well on my way to making new mom friends when I was a SAHM. Now I’m back at work full-time, and considering we can barely get ourselves and our kid fed and dressed, I just haven’t had time to reach out to anyone for a weekend playdate. Weekends are for doing all the cooking for the week, or else we’re not eating by Friday.

      • emilyg25

        Seriously. We had the opportunity to get a babysitter last month and I kind of wanted to use it to go to a party some friends were having (pumpkin beer tasting!). But we used it for a date instead, just the two of us. We have so much to maintain—our kid, ourselves, our marriage, our jobs, our home. It’s just … a lot.

        • AB

          Yes! This is the constant question when we have a babysitter– couple time or friend time.

    • Her Lindsayship

      Currently feeling a little guilty for turning down an invite from my new-parent friends this weekend. In my defense, it was a very last-minute invite and I couldn’t go because I had (have) mountains of homework to catch up on. We offered to reschedule and they never replied, so now I feel crappy about it. Even with no kid, we’re pretty busy ourselves, so as much as it would make sense for us to sort of adhere to their schedule, we also have a lot going on that makes that difficult.

      The good news is, if everything goes smoothly and we get the condo we’re currently under contract on, we’ll live around the corner from them! I really hope that will help make it easier to make those last-minute plans work. I love the idea of their kid growing up and knowing us as close family friends.

      • Amy March

        Don’t feel crappy! There is nothing wrong with turning down an invitation, and I doubt they didn’t reply to your offer to reschedule because they are secretly angry. They prob just didn’t have another time in mind right now. I’d often rather just try for plans again another time than put something on the calendar 6 weeks out.

      • sofar

        Oh don’t feel bad. I didn’t mean that by my post. The ball is in their court — you offered to reschedule. I was more talking about people who sit and whine that all their parent friends disappeared, when they themselves refuse to do anything besides go to an expensive sushi place at 10 pm on a Wednesday. And who see the new kid as a barrier to their friendship instead of a new little human they should maybe care about, if they love the parents as much as they say.

  • Amy March

    “The problem is that having friendships like that is dependent on a few things: having a partner who lets you get away from the kids, not feeling like you have to subsume all your personal interests to the overwhelming force of motherhood, and not bowing to the enormous societal pressure to act “mom appropriate” at all times (because the media seems to push a particular idea of what moms should listen to/wear/read/think about/eat/the list is literally endless).”

    I think this part really gets at something deeper and applicable to all of us- to have these kinds of friendships you really have to want it and value it. Not in a lipservice way, but actually taking steps to make it a priority, understanding that sometimes friendship is going to come at a cost to something else in your life, whether its time with your kids or partner or financial or just the stress of committing to plans you might have to change. I think sometimes a source of friendship struggle is having an ideal image of female friendship in your head – whether that’s cosmos at the bar or cookie exchanges or play dates with all the babies – and trying to force that image into your life instead of meeting the other people in your life where you all are and looking for friends who fit what you have room for.

    My ideal friendship model would involve my best friend living next door, lots of people to go to happy hour with, frequent dinner invitations, Sunday afternoon walks, and vibrant instagram commentary. Especially as my friends start to become parents, I am for sure not going to be getting all or any of that from some of them, so I’m working on expanding what I’m looking for (turns out my favorite thing is going to the splashpark with your small children and a sippy cup of wine) and investing in friendships with people who used to be more tangential but are in a similar life stage and have time for the things I want to do.

    • idkmybffjill

      OMG I would love all my friends to just live on my street. What a life. We’d never have to deal with calendars and could just go see each other like in college! The dream!

      • toomanybooks

        About a month ago, I found out that a friend I’ve had since kindergarten lives in the same building as me. We have hung out once (in said building) to discuss what an insane coincidence that is. Aaaand that is it. I really have to be proactive to turn this into a college-like situation!

    • G.

      This: “To have these kinds of friendships you really have to want it and
      value it. Not in a lipservice way, but actually taking steps to make
      it a priority, understanding that sometimes friendship is going to come
      at a cost to something else in your life, whether its time with your
      kids or partner or financial or just the stress of committing to plans
      you might have to change.”

      For many people, life changes in your late 20s and 30s — maybe it’s a relationship, maybe kids, maybe grad school, maybe a job, maybe other family obligations….all sorts of things that give you new responsibilities and make demands on your time and schedule. Whether we like it or not, time is a zero-sum game, so prioritizing friendship will have costs. For me, those costs are almost always worth it, and the trick is figuring out which of your friends (or future friends) feel the same way.

    • Mary Jo TC

      When I think of my ideal friendship model, I think of college. Friendships are so effortless when you live together and see each other 24/7. I want all my people literally next door–not just in the next building, but in the room next door to mine. I want us to eat every meal together without having to cook it or plan it, just show up in the dining hall and sit together. That does not exist after college. So to bring that to my current state of life, I think I’d need to live in basically a commune.

      • Amy March

        Which to me means that unless you do want to relocate to a commune, that isn’t your actual ideal friendship model, it is your fantasy friendship ideal. Communes are totally an option, but I’m willing to bet there are very good reasons you, and most of us, don’t actually wind up living in them :) Not the least of which is dining hall food for life

        • Mary Jo TC

          Good point. Changing the wording from ‘ideal’ to ‘fantasy’ makes it easier to recognize this is not possible and accept that it won’t happen.

      • idkmybffjill

        Something my parents do that I really want to start doing is have standing nights for things. My stepmom has a book club, each family within their friend group has a standard yearly party that they host – not everyone makes it to everything always but they are these touchstone events that are always pretty much happening & everyone can come take part in when it makes sense for them. I feel like it lends that sense of ease that rescheduling lunch for the 80th time doesn’t.

        • Amy March

          Yes to “not everyone makes it to everything” – so frustrating when you get stuck in a group dynamic where you constantly reschedule every time one person has a conflict.

          • idkmybffjill

            YES. In my group of girlfriends we eventually had to stop saying, “When of these dates works for everyone” and switch to, “Brunch Sunday? Who is coming?”. One friend in particular has a VERY insane schedule and travels often, and would also leave us in the lurch of scheduling around her/her showing up late. Once we all just were like, “Okay, this will happen and sometimes not everyone will be able to come and we’re gonna just deal with that.” Friendship got way less stressful.

          • Yup! My friend group does this too. 5 years ago it was easy for all of us to get together every time, but now, everyone has demanding jobs and families. It’s so much easier to just throw out an activity like brunch and see who’s interested/can make it. If we tried to only get together when we all could make it, we’d never see each other.

          • idkmybffjill

            Totally! And it was getting so exhausting to deal with the feelings fall out when we kept having to decide if it was worth it to just do it without X person. Feels alot less pointed to be like, “brunch is happening on Sunday”.

          • Amy March

            Yup. If I invite you to drinks Saturday at 5pm, and you respond with “would love to see you! breakfast Sunday at 9am?” please don’t be offended if I decline! It does not mean I never want to see you ever again, it just means that my weekend has time for drinks at 5, not breakfast at 9am this time around.

          • idkmybffjill

            Thissssssss.

        • sofar

          Yeah, that’s how my parents socialized, too. I think our generation has really dropped the ball when it comes to Hosting with a capital-H. If you’ve just got your one standing party per year to plan, that’s do-able (even if you have kids) in a way that trying to come up with a dish for 500 random potlucks and make 500 random lunches isn’t.

          Bigger parties are hard if you don’t have a house (which many in our generation don’t). But come on, we can still do small,reciprocal Hosted dinner parties (not potluck), no?

          • idkmybffjill

            YES. When we first moved in together I was really great about hosting, because our apartment had a really great layout for it. I’ve been terrible since we moved (and we’ve been in our apartment 3 years) because it’s just shaped really weirdly for hosting. We want to buy a house soon and a yearly party is one of my big goals. My parents host an annual “Pirate Party” and also a pajama party on Christmas eve. They’ve hosted them as long as I can remember – and yes they HOST. No one has to bring stuff (although usually people bring something small like ya do).

            Doing something similar is a super big goal for me.

          • sofar

            Your parents = goals.

          • idkmybffjill

            Tell me about it! :)

        • Sara

          Yes! I have been discussing this idea with some friends about having a standing ‘Sunday night dinner’ once a month. Or a Friday night spaghetti game night. Open invite to anyone, come over, I’ll make dinner and we can hang. It might be a different group every month, but everyone knows they’re always welcome over during that night. Its just figuring out the semantics of hosting and getting the word out (like should it be the 2nd Friday of every month, standard or do I make a Facebook invite very month?)

          Weirdly, my friends get on MY case about when I’m going to host things. I rented out my second bedroom and they were all worried I wasn’t going to throw my annual Christmas party.

          • idkmybffjill

            Ahh I love that! Sounds like you’re an awesome host!

          • Sara

            I come from a mother that frequently hosts neighborhood parties/bonfires/ladies lunches/dinner club at the drop of a hat, lol. Its in my blood to want to host! My brother once called me at college because after the neighborhood picnic ended in the park, they announced on the loudspeaker ‘after party at the K’s!” and descended on my parents house (with their permission but total surprise to my little brother napping in the basement)

          • Jess

            We have a monthly dinner! Hosting rotates through the friend group, people “sign up” to bring something from a list (appetizer/salad/main course/vegetable/dessert/drink…) so it’s low stress, and we just kind of hang and chill and maybe play a game if we want.

            Once you start it up, it kind of takes on a mind of its own.

          • Laura
        • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

          This is how I kept track of friends before babies started happening, on account of we’re good at keeping plans and terrible at making them, but it’s been invaluable now that the babies are here. Rotating Thursday night dinners? Hell, yeah. See you then.

  • Thanks for this. I went to dinner at a friend’s house a few days ago, where there were 10 adults and 5 kids under the age of three. I left feeling like a terrible friend because I hadn’t had a meaningful conversation with anyone — I was too consumed with running after my kiddo the whole time. I have to hope my friends understand, and remind myself that all I can do is do my best.

    • Danielle

      As a childless lady (currently pregnant with my 1st): most of us understand that little kids take time and energy.

      If it really bothers you, you can try to meet in a smaller group next time. But kids are unpredictable and yours may need a lot of attention then too.

      Try to be easy on yourself ?

    • emmers

      If I were your friend, I’d just be happy that you made the effort. It sounds like a lot, chasing around a kid in someone else’s house!

    • Mary Jo TC

      I sympathize so much. This is one situation that makes me not even want to bother. After a night like that I feel even more exhausted and disconnected from friends than if I hadn’t gone at all. Hopefully they appreciate me showing up and didn’t think my kid was a total brat, but it’s just so discouraging.

      • For what it’s worth, my friends seem to enjoy seeing my kid, and I enjoy seeing theirs! I also appreciate seeing what great parents they are. It helps when they are in the same boat and likely know how I feel.

    • emilyg25

      Are you me? I keep reminding myself that this is a season of my life and I’ll be back soon, and hopefully my friends will still be there.

  • This is so timely cause I recently went through a little thing with my friend group. The short version is that I stopped being a good friend – after I got married, I fell off the grid. And then I got pregnant and I didn’t feel like hanging out, which made it worse. It took a good friend in this group to tell me this not-pleasant truth about myself, but she also gave me advice on how to fix it. I sent the group an email apologizing, sharing how important they are to me, and how I don’t want to lose them just because my life has changed, and that I’m going to do better. And so far I have, and it’s been so great to get back into the mix again. I know it will be hard (harder?) after BabyPi comes, but my husband doesn’t want me to lose my connection with my friends either.

    tl;dr version: it’s easy to be the wife or mom who has fallen away. We all have to make effort to make friendships work, whether you’re the single friend or the married friend or the mom friend.

    • idkmybffjill

      Good for you! It takes alot to acknowledge when you’ve blown it as a friend, and then to take action about it. I have a flakey friend who sends an email like that like every six months, but only in the past year actually took action. It was really exciting!

    • Danielle

      I hear you and at the same time, if you are really tired due to pregnancy, I hope friends can understand and flex plans around your new needs sometimes (like coming over to play cards with you or whatever, not always going out).

  • G.

    Friendship is important. Full stop. Cultural depictions of adult friendship are generally terrible. Full stop.

    Often the 30s are seen as a time of settling down, which disguises the fact that, for many of us, it’s a time of transitions. I think it’s easy to pin the shifting nature of friendship on kids/no kids, partnered/single, or any other obvious difference. It feels good to produce a reason for friendship fading–partner in my life taking up time, kids taking up gobs of time, job taking up all the hours of the day–and there’s no doubt that, on occasion, there are days, weeks, and even months when shit hits the fan and you barely get food on the table and get laundry done.

    But the harder and scarier truth is we’re often making decisions that either enable or preclude friendships. We’re reaching out (text, email, phone, in-person) or we’re staying silent; we’re being reasonably flexible about our schedules or we’re being super rigid (yes, the dog has to be walked and work starts at 8 and kids have bedtimes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reserve one night of the week for friends or call someone to chat while walking the dog, or invite/go over to a friend’s while kid is going to bed and hanging out while kid sleeps); we’re sticking to what worked 10 years ago or we’re creatively re-imagining friendship in the present (alternating time with friend + kid and having an adults-only afternoon; living together then and participating in a weekly email chain now; planning a hike weeks in advance v spontaneously getting ice cream).

    Point is: it is possible to maintain friendships as adults, with and without kids, married or not married, but it requires effort, compassion, and thought, and those traits have to be bi-directional. Because here’s the thing: we all feel busy. Most of us feel overworked and stretched too thin. We have too many obligations and not quite enough support (whether that’s measured in hours of childcare, money, or no one to give you a hug). But when a good friend calls you out of the blue and you decide to talk for 30 minutes and delay doing the dishes or postpone finishing the report, etc, more often than not, you feel good and maybe even rejuvenated. So decide you’re invested in friendship and then show it — pick up the phone or send an email or mail a postcard or knock on your friend’s door.

  • ZLMT

    I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and just feeling like I don’t have the time to do everything I want to be doing. Most of my friends don’t have kids and while they have been great about being flexible with me since I do have one, and coming to visit me, I still don’t see them as much as I’d like, and feel like I’m not being a good enough friend. And yeah, I can and do rearrange things to prioritize seeing them at times, but it also means having to pick up the slack later. We moved about 45 minutes away from my family and most of my friends a few years ago to be closer to work, but are now considering moving back since it sounds so nice to be able to get together with the people we care about without doing so much schedule-wrangling.

    • Lawyerette510

      Just for an alternatively perspective, I’m the kid-less side of “Most of my friends don’t have kids and while they have been great about being flexible with me since I do have one, and coming to visit me, I still don’t see them as much as I’d like, and feel like I’m not being a good enough friend.”

      For my friends with kids, I certainly don’t view them as not being a good enough friend because we don’t see each other as much as either of us would like, or as much as I see my other child-free friends. I see it as a phase that our friendship is going through, somewhat similar to the phase it went through when I had my first job as a litigator (although that was a lot shorter than raising a kid), where one of us has less bandwidth for the other but the love and caring hasn’t decreased. I’m confident that the friendship will continue to evolve and will at a point in the future find more ease. And in the meantime, I’ll take the friendship-time when I can get it, like this past weekend when one of my friends-with-kids, and I met up for a cup of coffee then headed to a Clinton volunteer office to call voters in swing states to get out the vote. Sure most the time we spent together that day was sitting beside each other talking to strangers, but we caught up over coffee first and then spent time together working for something we believed in, all while her husband wrangled their three kids ages 6 and under.

  • Amanda

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: WE LOVE YOUR KIDS BECAUSE THEY ARE AN EXTENSION OF YOU! I feel like parents stop hanging with the non-parents because they’re worried about their kids’ behavior or the the extra effort kids take, and they don’t want to be a burden. Trust me, that guy you dated back in college that everyone hated and was a real douche, HE was a burden. I can intermittently pretend to eat playdoh without breaking a sweat. Besides, just because we haven’t had kids yet, doesn’t mean we hate them. We might just not be reaching out as often because you’re busy. You’ve got extra people to keep alive and we want to respect that. I love having a chill hangout with friends where I get to hang with their kids, too! Plus, excuse to see all the Disney movies again. (And, like, no offense, but you’ve got food in your hair and could use a shower. Please go take a shower. We’ll all be fine without you for 20 minutes. ;) )

    • NolaJael

      This: “I can intermittently pretend to eat playdoh without breaking a sweat.” I’m thrilled to hang out with your kids because kids are seriously bonkers. They make zero sense and do crazy shit. That entertainment is priceless. (And even if they’re having a rough day, kiddo, we’ve all been there. Cry your little heart out while mommy and I chat.)

      • Jessica

        If friends having kids is even a little bit like friends getting a new dog or cat, I’m all over it.

        But none of my close friends are there yet.

    • emilyg25

      I think the biggest problem for me is that it’s really, really hard to socialize when I’m watching my kid too. It’ll get better as he gets older, but at almost 2, I have to keep a constant eye on him and I just can’t do that and maintain a decent conversation at the same time. But fortunately, my partner is great at giving me lots of free time to socialize with my friends on my own.

      • The chasing of the almost-2, for me, has reached near comedic proportions. But I got lots of practice with socializing by chasing friends’s kids at that age and so we can KINDA do it. I don’t know if I could handle it if we had more than 1 plus 1 dog though.

    • sofar

      YES. I never thought I was a “kids” person because the only kids I knew were the devil-spawn of my more insane family members, and let’s just say the apples did NOT fall far from those trees.

      But then my friends started having kids, and omg, I LOVE those kids. Because, turns out, they’re a lot like my friends.

  • AGCourtney

    I’ve mentioned this before in conversations like these, but our situation is different from the norm. I got pregnant when I was 17, worked through college as a single mother, and now we’re married homeowners with a just-turned-5-year-old….at age 23. We’re just weirdly “in between” when it comes to making connections with people. I can do surface level connections, like chatting with a few of the mothers at my daughter’s activities, and chatting with the student workers I supervise, but nothing deep.

    I’m sure we’ll find our people eventually. It’s just humorous how many times it’s been derailed. (My best friend of ten years passed away while I was in college. When we
    moved back to my hometown last year, my best friend’s cousin lived
    across the street and that was wonderful…until she moved to Texas this
    summer. A good friend I made in Minneapolis now lives two hours away
    and she never has time to connect. We’ve grown closer with our
    next-door neighbors, and in the last week, we’ve learned that the husband was let go
    from the church where he was a youth pastor and they’ve realized they’ll
    likely have to sell the house and move wherever he can get a ministry
    position.) Friendships aren’t a huge priority of mine, though. My parents didn’t have any friends, so that’s honestly more what I’m used to.

  • rg223

    Ironically, since I’ve had a baby, my friendship that has struggled the most is with my best friend, who also had her first kid about two months after I had my son. Talking about narratives about moms in the media – I’ve certainly never seen a movie where a friendship falls apart because you BOTH had kids (except perhaps one where the people had very different parenting styles, but that’s not the case at all with us). On the positive side, we had a really enlightening conversation last week that, at the very least, revealed we are currently coming from very different places – so at least we know where the other person stands. I hope we are heading towards reconciliation.

    Can I get some friendship advice? I have been in a virtual book club with my best friend and another friend (my best friend doesn’t live in our city anymore). With the conflict that has been going on with my best friend, I’ve let the book club meetings go by the wayside, and haven’t hung out with my other friend as much. Other friend doesn’t know about the conflict with my best friend, but she did say one time she was worried I was mad at her because I had been MIA. I’m hanging out with Other Friend this weekend. Should I tell her about my conflict with Best Friend (broad strokes, nothing specific) as an explanation as to why I haven’t been participating in the book club? Or just make it seem like I’m sooooo busy with my new baby? I don’t want to put Other Friend in the middle, but at the same time, I feel bad that she might (or does) feel rejected by us. Is there a secret third option I’m missing? Thoughts?

    • Amy March

      I think the third option is don’t say anything about Other Friend, don’t lie about being soooo busy, and just apologize you haven’t been around as much and then do a better job of not being MIA.

      • rg223

        True. And to be more fair and less hard on myself, during the time period I am talking about, I not only was taking care of a baby, we bought a house, moved twice, and lived in a town much much further away from my friend for two months – and she got into and started a PhD program. So there were a lot of factors going into this!

        ETA: thanks for the advice, it’s helpful in my parsing this out!

  • NolaJael

    Here’s my two cents about adult friendships of all stripes. They require work over time. You have to put in the effort to go to that thing that you’d rather not (shitty recital, coffee during your favorite show’s premier, birthday of that odd mutual friend, fundraiser, etc.). Not every time, but yes, sometimes. Not every brunch is going to be the best brunch ever where you near pee yourself laughing. Sometimes you’ll absolutely wish you’d stayed home instead. But if you stay home every time, the invites will eventually cease and you will be friendless in your pajamas wondering how to start from scratch, which is daunting.

    • Amy March

      So wise.

    • Agreed! I looked up and realized I wasn’t getting invites anymore and it was all my fault. So I had to fix it by going out, even when I wanted to lay on the couch instead.

      • emmers

        I hear you. I also often prefer couch-laying, and usually have to push myself to say yes. I’m usually glad I did, but the introvert in me is all about some couch-laying.

        • Danielle

          OMG introvert dates for the win! Sometimes my favorite friend hangs are just sitting together in the living room, reading.

    • G.

      smart stuff here.

  • macrain

    You know what I’ve come to realize about myself that really sucks in terms of maintaining friendships? I hate hosting things. Even for like- 2 people. I just end up a ball of anxiety and nerves and spend the following day dissecting everything I did wrong whilst rocking back and forth hugging myself. It’s something that always seems like a good idea that devolves into my worst nightmare. (One time I saw a house tour on Cup of Jo and the woman was talking about how she hosts spontaneous dinner parties EVERY WEEK. I nearly died just thinking about it.)
    Luckily I live in New York and there is not a ton of expectation to do that, but- we don’t plan on staying forever, and hosting is part of making new buddies right? Is there a way to get over that? Or is it something I just accept? Anyone else have luck conquering this type of fear?

    • Amy March

      I think for every anxiety you have basically two options- take reasonable steps to reduce stress (have it outside, pick an easy time of day, set low expectations, host people at things outside your home, like a picnic in the park) and take reasonable steps to manage the part of anxiety that is unreasonable (therapy, meditation, yoga, long walks etc).

    • NolaJael

      I’ve had similar anxieties and something that helps me keep grounded is to think, “Would this bother me if our situations were reversed?” If I went to my friend’s house and the white wine wasn’t quite chilled enough or the potatoes were a little over salted or the music wasn’t my favorite, would I go home and snicker about what a bad host they were? Absolutely not! I couldn’t care less! Because I’m there to see my *friends* whom I like and are just people not professional caterers! If a “mistake” is the type that you wouldn’t think twice about if you were at a good friend’s house, probably your guests aren’t thinking twice about it either.

      • Alyssa

        Yes! That line of thinking is exactly the strategy I use to work through my social anxiety. “Would I be bothered by this if I were a guest?”

        • emmers

          It actually makes me feel better about hosting people when I have friends who are comfortable letting me come over into their normal lives. It’s so real, when there’s still dog hair on the floor. Makes me feel less self conscious about my own.

          • Alyssa

            Yes! When I’m in those situations, my mental reaction is “aahhhh, I can just be myself with this person.” It’s such a relief.

      • macrain

        And of course NO, it would never ever bother me.
        It’s like the people pleaser in me goes into overdrive when friends are in my home. And yes, I have definitely used that rationale when my emotions start spiraling.

    • Ashlah

      Just want to say you’re not alone. I’m the exact same way. I think part of the problem is that my mom was really (unnecessarily) self-conscious about the cleanliness of our house when I was growing up, so she/we never hosted anyone. I remember having friends over exactly one time, and we left for the mall shortly after they arrived. My anxiety surrounding hosting stems from having no clue what to DO with these people in my house. Exactly how much do I have to provide entertainment? (You’d think I’d have figured it out from being hosted at friends’ houses, but the anxiety is still there). The other issue is that the idea of hosting a bigger group (so they can entertain each other, and I feel less pressure) is more appealing to me, whereas my husband would prefer one or two people at a time. So we end up hosting no one.

      • Alyssa

        My mom was irrationally insecure about how much money our family had in comparison to our friends families (everyone was solidly in the same SES, so it was very irrational), and we never, ever had people over. I think I had friends over once or twice and never again, because my parents didn’t even keep snacks or “entertaining”-type food for people to much on. My fiancee and I host now (as personal challenges to our introverted selves) and I’m getting more comfortable with it, but I always have the same thought as you said: “what do I DO with these people once they get here?!”

    • K

      The last time we hosted, I went crazy for a week, trying to get the house clean enough to have people over, fighting with my husband the whole time. He kept saying, “Who are you trying to impress? It’s just our family and friends.” And then I got pulled aside during the party by a guest who pointed out the mildew spots on our bathroom tile and told me how I needed to clean them.

      So now I don’t host people anymore.

      • Ashlah

        Oh my god fuck that person.

        If you enjoyed it otherwise, keep hosting and don’t invite them.

      • NolaJael

        O.o Whoa. Alternate ending: That guest was never invited over again.

      • K

        She’s one of the few people who ever invites us to her house, so if I started inviting everyone but her, we’d probably stop getting invited to one of our only social outlets. Given our current setup, where I could get my act together to host maybe once or twice a year, but am invited to her house every month or so (and she’s otherwise a lovely person), it’d be worse to lose the invitation and burn that bridge. Plus, it’s just made me even more self-conscious about how dirty my house is anyway.

        • Amy March

          Invite her and ignore her because she’s incredibly rude, and tell yourself “oh, here she goes again, poor thing her stress about housecleaning must be through the roof.” Or just hire a house cleaner once or twice a year before you entertain and delegate that burden entirely!

          • emmers

            Or if she’s a close friend, you could try saying, yeah, I know you’re probably trying to help but it hurts when you point things like that out. We’re doing our best. Though I too would totally be dumbstruck in the moment!

          • K

            I was totally too dumbstruck in the moment. I WILL respond if she ever does it again, or she ever asks why we haven’t had a party recently. (I may have rehearsed my response in my head a million times since it happened last spring.)

      • macrain

        I think that’s part of it- I don’t like the person I become when I’m preparing for guests. It becomes very hard to reign in the crazy. So- do I try to become less crazy or do I remove myself from the situation that makes me crazy?
        And yea, that person can suck it.

      • macrain

        I also wanted to say- I really get what you are saying about the rude guest who pointed out the mildew. Because when you have anxiety, that guest is EVERY guest. That voice is now in your mind, even if it was just the one person who thought that. For me, I know who in my life makes me feel that way and I just don’t see them as much anymore. Even so- the voice is there.

    • NolaJael

      Also, I guess I would distinguish between casually having people over and hosting a formal affair. You could start really small – like invite a very chill couple over for one glass of wine before you leave to go to a movie at the theatre or dinner out. So there’s a small hosted activity and an end time. Good practice and far less stressful than a whole hosted dinner evening.

    • Alyssa

      From my own personal experience, I’d suggest teaming up with a friend or SO and host it together, to alleviate the stress. I am a terrible host by myself and have crippling anxiety when I’m in charge of conversation (and YES to ruminating over everything I did wrong the next day! You’re not the only one!) My fiancee also has social anxiety but is more extroverted than I am, and we found that hosting things together is much easier and less anxiety-provoking on both of us.

      So in our current place we host a bbq or party probably once a season and while I still sometimes hide in our bedroom with our cat at some point during the evening, we’ve still built our entire group of friends almost exclusively around these get-togethers. Plus, Potlucks FTW. Talking about food and putting food together with others provokes conversation in and of itself, and can be a great icebreaker!

      • Yes, I am a huge fan of potlucks. I host a big party at least once a year (American Thanksgiving, I’m in Quebec) and always make it potluck because it eliminates the pressure to make ALL the food. I make a ton (the traditional dishes that make it Thanksgiving for me) and then don’t worry about the rest and assume we’ll have enough no matter how big it ends up. So far it works well and no one has pointed out how clean or not it is. Though one time the kids ended up playing hide and go seek and ended up hiding in the bathtub and who knows where else. That year I was so, so glad I hadn’t skipped cleaning the tub, which I had considered… But yeah, I love potlucks. Otherwise, I wouldn’t host big parties, and I do enjoy that once or twice a year. And now my friends from different areas of my life have gotten to know each other, and I think they enjoy seeing each other at the annual Thanksgiving party too. :)

    • emmers

      Not sure if this also gives you anxiety, but one of my fav ways to hang out with my parent-friend is hanging out at her house. She’s not “hosting”, since it’s usually just me, but I am going over after work, on the way home. It usually looks like us sitting on the couch together for an hour, with her wee one running around. House is in its normal state, with kid stuff around. Sometimes she’ll offer me some salsa or some tea, but usually we’re just chilling and chatting. Another of my fav non-hosted things we do is to both take a short walk together at a local pedestrian-friendly street. Her 2 year old will run ahead, and we’ll chat. It seems to work much better than getting coffee or a meal.

    • idkmybffjill

      How are you at making reservations? I think that’s basically the same but you’re in charge of way less. Saying, “let’s all have brunch here!” or “New play! Going this night!” is just as valuable to me as parties!

      • macrain

        I am very good at reservations. :)

        • idkmybffjill

          I honestly think groups attract people who are good at different things. Some who are great at hosting, some who nail it at gifts, some who give the best compliments and are great at conversation, some who think of cool new fun things to do. If you’re great at reservations but hate hosting – be the reservations person! I like restaurants! :)

          • macrain

            Oh my god yes. Because the other thing is that I fall into such despair about not being a better hostess, like it’s some colossal failure on my part (it’s not). And yet- I am good at other things! And those friends that are really good at hostessing are not as good at other things that I am very good at. And so on.

          • idkmybffjill

            Absolutely!! It’s also one of those things that I think friends are usually keeping score less than we internalize that they are. I don’t think about the fact that so and so hasn’t hosted when they show up in other ways! Especially as an adult when we’re all generally doing the things we can afford to do.

        • G.

          This is great. I hate making reservations, and I suspect there are people like me in your friend group. We love the people willing to make that phone call.

    • G.

      I think you have to make an effort, but you don’t have to host. If having people in your home is the source of anxiety, be the one to suggest outings: a picnic the park, a hike, the HS soccer game (because, sure, why not?), a movie (no talking required!), the wacky dentistry museum (they exist), etc. If feeling responsible for someone having a good time–related but not limited to hosting–then I think it’s more about figuring out how to tamp down that anxiety and do things, in or out of your home.

  • Vanessa

    I really struggle with this topic, both as a currently childless person, and in my consideration of whether & when to have kids in the future. I have a lot of friends who have young kids right now, enough to know that it’s a matter of will on both sides. I’ve been more than willing to be flexible, and with some parent friends it has gone swimmingly – we go for Saturday morning coffee walks, or bring takeout over to their house, or move happy hour to somewhere near day care pick up etc. Other parent friends ….have left me with the feeling that I am no longer an important part of their lives, and that sucks. I’m not asking to be as important as their kids, but to be treated as though the relationship we’ve built is one that they value, and to feel like I’m not just a replaceable warm body. It hurts learning that the dear friend you’ve been trying to make plans with for weeks isn’t unable to hang out with you bc her baby isn’t sleeping, but instead it’s bc she’s been hanging out with a different new friend from her mom’s group every day.

    • CII

      Oh man, I totally feel you. I get that my friends with young kids are going to want and need more time with their families (and then also time to invest in themselves and their marriage) and that, as a result, for the next few years, we will likely see them a bit less, and mostly on their terms (at their house, at their preferred times). But it’s when I feel like they are also investing time in making new friendships with complete strangers simply because those people also have kids that my feelings get all screwy and hurt.

  • K

    What I’ve found is that my friends without kids are all about hanging out with my kid when I invite them over to my house. The events that they plan are all still adults-only: dinner parties (invited with a, “I know it’s hard to find a sitter but we’d love to see you if you can arrange it,” even though dinner in my friends’ apartment is totally the kind of thing I would otherwise bring my son to), late nights at bars, childfree weddings, even a baby shower that children were explicitly not invited to. So to maintain the friendship, I have to be the one to get my house reasonably presentable, figure out what to feed people, etc. – all with a toddler running around under my feet. Which means it happens basically never. Working full-time hasn’t given me much opportunity to make new mom friends, so I’m just pretty lonely these days. Maybe it’s because I don’t try hard enough, but that’s not all that helpful to hear right now.

    • Vanessa

      Hmm. I have definitely fallen into the pattern of going over to the houses of friends with kids, mostly based on the following assumptions: 1) baby/toddler will go to sleep very early and we can continue to eat, hang out; 2) my house is in no way childproofed and is full of hazards; 3) there’s no good place to put a baby/toddler to sleep at my house once it’s old enough to roll off the bed. I hope that us ordering takeout or bringing over food and grilling while they put baby to sleep makes enough of a difference that I’m not increasing their burdens. Thanks for your comment, going to have to think on this for a while.

      • Ashlah

        I felt bad about the fact that our parent friends were always hosting, so I reached out and asked them–“We’ve assumed it’s easier for you to host at your child-proofed house, but just let us know if we’re wrong, and we’re happy to have you over!” They confirmed it was easier for them to host. We also usually eat delivery, so there’s less active Hosting as far as preparing dinner. Obviously the answer to that question will depend on the person, so I think it’s helpful to reach out and ask. K, I’m sorry your friends have left you feeling like the burden is on you. Might it be worth telling them how you’re feeling?

        • K

          Yep, probably, it’s just a tough conversation to have, all the more so now that we’re a couple years into parenthood and have fallen into a pattern.

      • emilyg25

        I totally prefer to have people over to my house for those reasons, but my close friends don’t care how my house looks and are happy to bring some food over.

    • Amy March

      Can you suggest a mid-afternoon at a bar that allows kids? Not to place even more of a burden on you, but as a way of subtly teaching them what kinds of invitations they can issue that are kid-friendly and fit in with their lifestyle?

      • K

        We do that at times. Maybe we need to do it more.

    • Jess

      I don’t think this is resting entirely on your shoulders.

      Friendships require flexibility on all sides – I meet up with my friends for breakfast, or walks, or game nights at home where kids are totally cool. I have my friends bring their babies to wine bars (this may be very region specific, but around here, it’s not super uncommon). Late nights happen and sitters are found or partners go alone so someone stays with the kid. I have friends that trade off weekends so they can have girls/guys/co-ed nights.

      I can’t have 10 toddlers running around my apartment because it’s not really a kid-proof space, but 1 that we can keep an eye on or infants? Totally fine. Can we relocate our coffee date to a nice garden or park instead of my apartment? Of course.

      The kinds of events we have need to change to accommodate our friends kids. It doesn’t sound like that’s something your friends are doing.

      • G.

        Before I moved, one of my friends and I delighted in meeting up at bars on Saturday afternoons with her kid. Again, may be region-specific, but it worked for us — we checked out new places, we each got out of our houses, she had an extra set of eyes to watch her son, and he made friends with many a bartender.

        I love hosting, but I try to avoid small children in my small apartment because my large, old, curmudgeonly dog, who cannot climb stairs (to the bedroom), is lovely with adults and terrified of/terrible with children, and I don’t want anything to happen. So for now, my space is pretty adults-only (minus infants who can’t move on their own), but I’m more than happy to meet in kid-friendly spots.

    • idkmybffjill

      Man I think that’s super unfair. I’m sorry your friends are putting you in that position! No advice but just sending you good thoughts!

  • AB

    I think the age of your kids is a really key part of this as well. When we had a baby, I found maintaining friendships to be no problem. Babies are so portable! I’d go for walks with friends, go out to bars (okay if the baby is loud!), and even occasionally manage a nicer restaurant meal. But now that the baby is a toddler with a younger sibling, it is so much more challenging. Raising a high-energy toddler is a full-contact sport, and even though my friends are happy to hang out with the kids around–I’m tired of having partial conversations while I try to negotiate the constant need for attention from one child or the other. For real time to connect with friends, that means evenings, babysitters, and sadly often too much exhaustion to put in a sustained effort. I’m definitely feeling the lack of connection, but try to focus on this as being a particular season in parenting that will change with time. In the meantime, I tell all my new parent friends to take the baby out as much as possible when they are little. Portability!

    • lady brett

      yes. the change of it all is so relevant. way back when, my friend group had a sort of rule that you got 2 months in new-lover-land where no one really bothered that you’d disappeared into bed with your new person. after which, you were expected to re-emerge and socialize again (as well as maintain your shiny new relationship). i feel like navigating friendship through parenting is similar – you can’t just disappear, but you can disappear for a while. maybe it’s when you have a brand new baby, maybe it’s when you have a damn 3 year old, maybe it’s every summer cause the kids are home from school, but if it’s not *always* that’s just part of the cycle of things.

  • lady brett

    navigating friendships has always been hard for me, but kids do complicate. we are on the verge of moving in with a friend (who also has kids), and i am terrified of giving up our little kingdom, but also excited about the access part of being so close with one of our people. and one of my best friends (and ex) moved back in town recently, which has been lovely, because we are both shitty friends who fail to connect at distance. speaking of which, i have got to write to my other best person. shit is and has been crazy, and i have failed to keep in touch about or through that, which is awful. so i have a letter to write…but also a baby to feed!

  • Ant

    I recently met up with two friends from college (we graduated more then 10 years ago) who both have kids now. I picked up friend K who was happy to leave her kids with her husband for the first time, and we took a road trip to stay with friend D and her family for the weekend. And it was lovely! We spent a whole day wandering through our college city, and in the evenings we hung out with D’s husband and kids.

    Of course they talked a lot about their kids and sometimes I felt a little left out as the only childfree person present. But most of the time it was just like no time had passed at all. We’re still pretty much the same people (or personalities) as we were all those years ago. There are just a few more people attached (literally …) to our group.

    It still is difficult to maintain those long distance friendships (plus kids, plus life). But though we rarely speak we always enjoy it when we do. We still consider ourselves friends. And as we loved that weekend so much we are now really trying to make get-togethers like this happen more often.

  • Eh

    My relationship with my friends is mostly communicating through text/email messages. I only live close to one friend (who has a four year old) and we text a few times a week. We used to have weekly game nights (with our husbands and sometimes other friends) but it’s hard now that her daughter has started school (especially with my husband’s work schedule).

    Of the rest of my friends, three have children and two do not, and all of them live 5 to 8 hours from me. I text one of them (who has two kids) multiple times a day (topics are usually about the kids or our husbands). I FB message the other two that have kids every couple weeks – sometimes about the kids but usually about other things.

    As for the ones that don’t have kids, I email (I know – who uses email) one at least once a week. We have long email conversations. We have known each other for a long time (since grade 3) and we have done this for years. She is a nurse so our schedules are frequently reversed so long emails work for us. She is actually getting married next spring and wants to get pregnant right away. We have tons of things to talk about from our families to work to partners to medical stuff (I do health research). My other friend who doesn’t have kids is that friend that doesn’t have kids and is fun. We usually see each other once a year. We don’t talk that much and usually when we do it’s about our plans to see each other.

    I have no desire or time to make more friends. While writing this I realized that I have only made one friend since I turned 20 (I’m now 32) and I met her through my husband (the one with the 4 year old). That said, I do know that I need a break from my daughter and husband.

    • Mary Jo TC

      I do long email conversations with long-distance friends too. Usually monthly. One of them, I meet up with her when I’m in my hometown, where she still lives. Emails work for us because we’re writer types and because it’s soo convenient.