I debated on whether or not to recommend this essay on the impact of parenthood on adult friendships. At nearly 7,000 words, it’s too long, and many remarks from both the parents and childless adults interviewed are whiny and irritating. Still, it’s a conversation starter, and Davis hits a nerve. For me, maintaining friendships has been hard, even before I became a parent, and forming new ones has been slow-going. So I work very hard to nurture the ones I have—ones that have survived our baby years, the pandemic, life. I ultimately feel for anyone, parent or not, trying to find their community right now, and root for you as you find your people. At the very least, use the piece as inspiration for a lively (or heated) discussion.
One Fourth of July, in my early 30s, I went upstate to spend the day with a college friend, her newborn, and one of her neighbors who had just had twins. Four new-new parents, three new-new babies, and me. Looking back, I think it was significant that my friend invited me into her life during a moment of total insanity. But at the time, I remember feeling like I suddenly had no idea who this person was anymore. She tried to engage with stories about my life but was clearly preoccupied. Meanwhile, she and her friend couldn’t stop discussing newborn bowel movements. Even if she didn’t necessarily want to be talking about poop, and was self-conscious about how much she was talking about poop, she needed to talk about her new baby, and all of the mysteries and anxieties, and feel understood by someone. I realized that I could nod and smile but never relate or soothe. I had a panic attack and left before the hot dogs got off the grill. I’m sure she was baffled by my reaction. And seven years later, I’m sure she’s still baffled, while I still have no clue what it felt like on her side of things.