Friday, July 07, 2006

Juggling motherhood and friendship with non-parents

One of the disadvantages of being a single mother in a city, with few of my family members living nearby, is that going out with friends is a job that requires advance planning and a good Samaritan.

Tomorrow a good friend of mine is having a baby shower. I know she would be very hurt if I did not attend this very important event.

The lady and I used to be very close when we were at university and at the beginning of our careers. We even shared flats and houses for a couple of years.

Then I had Baby, our careers became demanding, I bought a house across town from her home, she married and we drifted apart. I suspect it was my fault – I got absorbed with the journalism/parenting/ creative writing life and didn’t leave much time for anything else.

The biggest change is in the way we socialize, I think. We used to do the coffee shop/ nice restaurant/shopping social thing that unencumbered, successful women living in a city like to do.

Then I became a mother and changed the rules on her. Some of my income was reassigned for buying clothes for Baby in an attempt to keep up with her growth spurts, a private school education, toys and the day to day expenses associated with raising a child.

The result is that choice of eating places also changed – the places I frequent socially are now cheap and child-friendly.

The stress of trying to find baby-sitter and paying for her in addition to my restaurant bill also made the whole situation difficult.

Eventually trying to socialize with her just got too hard and I began cultivating closer relationships with other (grand)mother/writers who live in my suburb and who’ll eat at a cheap place and we can bring the kids/grandkids.

I care about my friend who is having a baby shower. We just happen to have different priorities at the moment.

So I’m going to phone one of the writer/mothers to find out if she can take care of Baby for the afternoon.

I’m not entirely comfortable with the plan. She’s a freelance environmental journalist and we regularly exchange kids, so one of us can have a free afternoon/ or when we are on tight deadlines. But she had the kids two weeks ago and in principle it’s my turn.

But she’s flexible, and she has never played the “it’s your turn” game. So she’s likely to agree to take Baby for the afternoon, unless she has plans too.

I wonder if my relationship with my friend (who is having a baby shower) will revert back to what it was when she has a child?

Will she have a greater understanding of the challenges I face as a mother trying to juggle friendships with parenthood? Did I underestimate her, and she understands more than I gave her credit for?

I expect I will learn a thing or two from her on how to juggle motherhood with friends. It should be an interesting experience.

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