Life Phases Women Who Don’t Have Children Go Through
There is a lot of talk about the phases of parenthood. There are the infant years, the toddler years, those first years in school, the pre-teen years, the teenage years, the empty nest years—each of which brings its own struggles, joys, terrors, and obstacles. But just because women who don’t have children aren’t experiencing all of those phases, firsthand, doesn’t mean that they don’t still go through certain phases alongside their mom friends. If you are a mother, believe it or not, everything you go through has a ripple effect on your friends who decided not to have kids. If they care deeply about you and work hard to maintain the friendship, how could they not be affected by those years when your child is a teenager and turning your home into a living hell? Or your empty nest years? Here are life phases that women who don’t have children go through (that nobody really talks about).
Babies trump career advancements
When we are young, and our friends are just starting to have babies, we’re making some of our biggest career moves. But no career advancement ever seems to get as much attention as a baby’s first words or a toddler’s cute Instagram photo. It seems our career pales in comparison to the miracle of life.
You feel very wealthy
Then there are the years when our friends are pinching pennies just to make sure everyone is fed, can go to piano lessons, can attend the best school, and get new clothes. When our parent friends cannot even afford to have date night once a week, we feel pretty wealthy having happy hour and frivolous shopping trips every week.
Your late night adventure buddies don’t exist
Late night adventures are over. Really just over. You were already having a hard time getting your other friends who don’t have kids to stay up past 11pm on a weekend, but your friends with kids can barely make it past 9pm. You silently mourn the days when you’d all eat food truck burritos, drunkenly, on a sidewalk at 2am.
For a while, you don’t connect with your friends
During the first few years that your friends are having kids, social talk is all baby talk. You can feel that they make allowances for your stories about your work, dating, and so on, but you can also feel that they just want to get back to baby talk with the other moms. You feel rather disconnected during this time.
Every party has kids, and feels rather divided
This weird thing starts to happen where parties are equal parts people with kids (who have brought their kids) and people who don’t have kids. The groups tend to separate to different corners of the house.
You have to learn to travel alone
Getting the gang back together for a trip to Costa Rica or Vegas is nearly impossible. People cannot afford it, in light of parenting expenses, or can’t get a babysitter. So, you have some years when you just have to travel solo.
When everyone attributes everything to your biological clock
Then there are some grueling, annoying years when everyone attributes everything you do to your biological clock ticking. You can’t wait for that damn clock to break down.
Your doctor grills you for three to eight years
Your annual well women’s exams and checkups, between around the ages of 28 to 35, feel more like subtle interrogations. Your doctor’s questions and concerns are mostly geared towards the possibility of you wanting to have kids one day. She won’t seem to accept that you don’t want them, so it’s okay that you keep up this one habit that reduces fertility.
You forget to ask about their kids
In the first few years of your friends having children, you remember to ask about their kids every time you see them. But when your friends’ kids start to become around seven or eight years old, you forget to ask. Then you get in trouble because, well, you’re sort of supposed to ask forever.
The preteen years aka when your friends start complaining
Here come the years when, every time you see your friends, they collapse onto the couch or into the diner booth as if they’ve just escaped from prison: the teen years. It’s kind of nice to see that they don’t think parenthood is all butterfly kisses and “Aw” moments all of the time.
Your childless friends and mom friends are separated
Out of necessity, you’ve made friends with other women who do not have children. But your mom friends and childless friends are distinctly separate. Your friends who don’t have kids always want to do things that your mom friends don’t have time to do. Meanwhile, your friends who don’t have kids don’t want to attend any five-year-old’s birthday party. You begin to feel like you’re living two lives.
Your friends go back to work and envy you
At some point, when the kids are a bit older, your mom friends start to return to work. Some have been working the whole time, but throw themselves into it even more. Either way, they begin to talk about how envious they are of you because you’ve been fully in the career game the whole time.
Scary things happen in the world and you’re grateful you don’t have kids
When scary things happen in the world, you’re so grateful that you don’t have children to worry about and look after.
The years when taking the pill feels odd
There are a few odd years, maybe towards the late thirties and early forties, when you feel funny about taking the pill, using condoms, or using any other sort of birth control. It hits you that you will just be using your body for, well, you. It’s not bad or good. It’s just a fact.
When your friends come back
Ah yes. Finally. Your friends’ kids go off to college, move out of the house, and your friends come back to you. It feels like you’re in college again. They want to travel with you and get late night drinks. You almost forget about those years you were distant—almost.