Tuesday, June 14, 2011

End of an Era


Over the weekend I attended a baby shower, which depressed me. Baby showers always depress me, because they make me think, "Oh, there goes another couple, crossing over to the other side where I'll rarely see or hear from them, and when I do we'll no longer have anything in common." The baby shower typically ends up being one of the last times that the child-free friends really get to spend time with the woman who's expecting. I'm sure sometimes friendships can thrive between people with children and those without, or at least that's what I've heard, but I've yet to experience it so far in my life. People that have kids seem to get sucked into a dimension where only other parents can enter; the child-free must go their own way and make new, child-free friends to fill the hole left by the ones they lost.

It isn't that I'm not happy for my friends, it's just that there exists a divide between the childed and the child-free that's hard to bridge once the baby comes along. This particular couple is pretty special, so if anyone can buck the trend they can, but nevertheless the bummed out feeling that set in after the shower has stuck with me these last couple days. It's sort of an end-of-an-era feeling.

This was not my baby-shower-attending outfit; that'll actually go up next week. This was just another attempt at looking as summery as I could given the chilly weather we were having.

Dress: Aryeh
Cardigan: S
Belt: Red Dress Shoppe
Boots: All Black
Babgles: Amrita Singh

44 comments:

K.Line said...

As a person who's watched friends have babies - and one who's worked insanely hard to preserve friendship after having a child - I totally empathize! So well articulated. Know that there are a few who resist the lure of parent-suction. Not a lot though. I agree.

Trystan L. Bass said...

WORD.

Megan Mae said...

Love how your new 'do works so well with your highlights. The yellow and blue really does help to keep the outfit light.

I know exactly how you feel. So many of my friends/old classmates are already getting married and having kids right away. I'm fairly decided against having children, and I'm the most atypical married person ever. So I don't really mesh with them anymore. Here's hoping your friends can bridge the gap and keep in touch. It's always hard to 'lose' friends or even drift apart.

dcresider said...

As one who can't have children due to infertility, I do agree with you. Their lives do change when having kids while my life "almost" stay the same ( almost meanding that we do lose our friends to their children). The weird thing is that they still expect us to be at their beck and all like nothing has changed. Anyway, a slight vent on my part.

Jennie said...

My best friend just had a baby. It's been really hard for her to leave the house because of her new responsibilities, but I don't mind being the one to visit her all the time. The American style nuclear family is not easy. When I grew up in Samoa, it literally took a village to raise a child. I would like to have kids someday, but I really worry about being expected to handle work+kids+friends all at the same time. In Samoa, your friends and family are always there helping with the kids. It's not all left up to the parents; the chores are shared.

Diana said...

I know the feeling. My boyfriend and I have chosen not to have kids, but the majority of our friends and family have. It's a lot harder to do anything with people when they all have kids and you don't.

Shybiker said...

I'm 100% with you on this. I'm child-free by choice and have found people's decision to have kids separates them from me.

Carol in Indian Springs Village said...

Amen! As a childless couple we were left out of a lot of the things our friends were doing because it was all about the kids for a while. We have slowly made friends with other childless couples and while I do miss the others, I don't miss the endless stories about their kids.

Julie G. from Iowa said...

As one of the childless (and proud of it!) ones, I'll leave you with my favorite quote EVAH from Sex and the City as said by Miranda...

"I just realized; maybe it's maturity or the wisdom that comes with age, but the witch in Hansel and Gretel, she's very misunderstood. I mean, the woman builds her dream house, and these brats come along, and start eating it."

Kim said...

I had intended to be childless but shit happens as they say. I wouldn't trade my kid for the world but I do understand what you're saying. My best friend had a baby a couple years before I did and she went so far off the deep end of "Mom-dom" that it got crazy. Some people do that but there are others, a few, that try to maintain a sense of self outside of being a parent. I didn't give up my identity when I became a parent. We have lots of couple friends who don't have kids, but we're also "dog" people and there are lots of dog people who don't have kids. Being a parent is very important but it doesn't define who I am. Sure, I'm Mom, but I'm also Kim, and refuse to give that up. Hope these friends of yours don't disappoint and maintain the friendship. But there is an adjustment no matter the intentions.

Hexotica said...

I decided to be childless at 16 and I am feeling exactly the same about my friends having children now that I'm 35. I have heaps of no-children vowing friends, but I do miss the friends who have crossed to the other side, as you aptly describe it. However, I do find that the people I party the hardest with have always known they weren't going to have children, so the really good times will hopefully never slow down! :D

b.t.w, you should join the Facebook page, "Whilst my friends have babies & mortgages, I have hangovers and 100 shoes"

Amanda said...

Truth. I've always known that kids were not for me and I'm lucky that my husband (and nature- I'd have a heck of a time having biological kids even if I'd wanted 'em) agree with me. I try to be understanding and supportive of my friends with children but there comes a point when I wish I could just politely specify that some occasions (dinners out, late movies, etc) are adults-only.

notSupermum said...

I always wanted children and I waited a long time for my two to come along, but I know that having children isn't for everyone and I totally respect that.

I wouldn't be without my girls but it is all consuming, especially as a single parent, and if parenthood was advertised as a job not many people would apply. Imagine: job, no time off, on call 24 hours a day, no pay, must be able to deal with small, demanding children that grow into big, demanding teenaers. Must be able to cope with bodily fluids, tantrums, sleepless nights, hormones, teenage friends. Experience of being housekeeper, chef, nurse, teacher, lion-tamer would be useful.

Of course there are plenty of rewards, honest.

Becky said...

Man, I know what you mean, and I'm only 23! In their defense, it is hard to raise a kid. On the other hand, after they have a kid, that's ALL they EVER talk about! Bleh.

Carmen said...

It's tough. Seems like you aren't really upset at your friends but miss them. I'm sorry.

To me being a parent is less about being sucked in, but more about how MUCH my SCHEDULE has changed. That has a huge impact on friendships.

Friends and family without kids just think that after a certain time of day I could just put my kids away and we could go out or stay up all hrs chatting on the phone. That just doesn't work. Kids are little unpredictable people and I could stay up till midnight or later getting drinks or chatting, but my little guys are still up at 5am while my non-parent friends got to have a great Sunday sleeping in and breakfasting off the hangover.

The non-parents I've been able to really keep in touch with are then ones that are morning people since that tends to be when we're both free.

You said something on your blog once about how you've known people with kids who've acted like you're the luckiest person on earth b/c you can have lunch and get a mani/pedi on no notice. They say "how lucky" you are. That's stuck with me. I try not to do that shit. My friends without kids shouldn't be made to feel guilty or selfish b/c they have time to do shit.

priscilla said...

I hear this. I was at a birthday party for my friend's little girl not long ago, standing around talking to a group of women when one of them asked me, "How many children do you have?" (Because that's how one phrases such a question in Atlanta, where I live.) When I said I didn't have kids, there were literal seconds of complete silence--all conversation stopped--and after that they all moved discretely away from me, as though I had announced I was a radioactive witch who had come to the party to steal their children and possibly eat them or sell them into slavery. Literally, no other woman but my friend talked to me for the rest of the party. It's the MOST awkward moment I have endured after telling people my husband and I have no children, but it's hardly the first. To be honest, it makes me want to avoid people with kids. I have no problem with their choice to be parents--why should they be so offended by my choice not to be one?

Beyond that, practical things make it difficult. Our house is not "child friendly"--no toys, not a lot of room to play, no yard--so it's difficult for us to entertain our friends who have kids. To suggest they hire a sitter and come alone seems out of the question. I wonder: when did this happen? Parents left kids with sitters all the time when I was a child.

Anyway, sorry for the rant. I enjoy your blog!

TheStyleKludger said...

Once again, I'm nodding my head while reading one of your well-written posts. I too mourn the impending loss of a friend when they become pregnant. I haven't found a single one able to maintain a friendship after children.

kathy said...

I have two kids, and I tried really hard not to lose myself in the whole motherhood thing. I think I did a pretty good job, and now that my boys are older (and I don't have to get a babysitter), it's been great to have that freedom again. In fact, I have a difficult time being around friends with younger children because they don't have the freedom yet that we do.

I hope your friends are able to make the separation between being parents and individuals. If you are able to be a bit flexible for the next um, 13 years, then I'm sure you can maintain your friendship.

Good luck!

And great clothes, as always!

Jen Hansum said...

Thanks for voicing what I've felt for a while. I don't see how anyone can succeed at parenting without at the same time keeping their peer relationships and their self-identity fed. Seems that in itself is a healthy model for a child to see.

BrieCS said...

Sweet outfit!
I have so many things I'd like to say in response to this, but I know it would get verbose, so I leave you with:

Word.

Northmoon said...

I'm impressed by the attitude you and the other commenters have taken on this issue. As someone who is childless by choice I agree that a baby changes things. The only friend in my circle in my 30's with a child had a live in nanny!

I can tell you that in my 50's it changes and becomes less of a factor in my friendships. I guess from birth to say 11 or 12 children demand most of a parent's time and emotions.

Celynne said...

YES. If it's not finding a babysitter, little Timmy will have a cold, or need to get to soccer practice, or there's a kid's event that they and their other childed friends are attending.

Luckily for me, my close circle of friends have decided against having children. I think that's part of why we gravitated to each other hah. All of us have tales of lost friends to children.

Julia B. said...

I completely agree about that sadness when friends have kids and drift away. On the other hand, I've gotten a lot closer to my siblings since they started having kids. For me, that's a pretty good trade-off.

Courtney said...

So true. There is an amazing couple DH and are friends with, we would have dinner at each other's houses every week, like family. When the baby came, we still did, but instead of us ladies talking while the guys had a cigar it turned into us taking care of baby. We're still friends, but I miss our conversations badly.

Audi said...

Wow, so many great comments here!Thanks for all your thoughts and for keeping the discussion respectful no matter which side of the divide you're on.

dcresider: Vent away. It must add an extra layer of difficulty when being child-free isn't necessarily by choice.

Jennie: You're absolutely right; having a network of family and community to help in child rearing must undoubtedly make things a lot easier. I can't imagine how hard it must be for people with no family living nearby.

Carol in ISV: Egad YES, the nonstop kid stories nauseate me. I've known people who became so consumed with talking about their children all the time that I started wondering what we ever had in common before; they lost their entire identities. Now when I encounter people like that I just start talking about my dog until they get the picture. ;-)

Julie G.: HA! Love it!

Hexotica: How many times have you had to put up with the "You'll change your mind" nonsense? I also knew from a very early age that I didn't want kids, and it made my blood boil that people didn't respect my decision. Good for you for knowing yourself and sticking to your guns. Also, that Facebook page is fantastic!

Amanda: I don't see why child-free people shouldn't be able to suggest an adults-only event. People on both sides need to be understanding; obviously parents will need to bring their kids along sometimes, but there's no reason it needs to be EVERY time.

notSupermum: I wish more people knew about all the aspects of parenting before they jumped into it. The worst is when people over-romanticize it and are then shocked and continually whining about how hard it is. I have no patience for that. Seems like you went in with your eyes open and were willing to make the sacrifices in order to get the rewards.

Carmen: I wouldn't change my friends' decision for the world; they really wanted kids, know very well what it's all about, and will make AWESOME parents. But you're right, I miss them. Even as we celebrate happy events in life, we can still mourn the things that will necessarily change. I'm glad my previous post had an impact on you. Everyone should feel free to make their own choices and not feel guilty.

priscilla: Ugh. I've been there too, when I lived in Minnesota. I feel your pain for sure.

Northmoon: I'm looking forward to getting all my friends back when we're all in our 50's and 60's! Once the kids have moved out then everyone is child-free again. :-)

Celynne: I'm currently trying to build my circle of committed child-free friends, but they can be hard to find, even in SF!

sara star said...

Right now it seems like everyone I know is either having kids or moving away to grad school! I am so lonely. I am working hard to find new friends, I am finding a lot of friendships with parents whose kids are all grown up or at least 13 or so. I only have one friend with young children who has managed to keep her identity. After her second child was born, her facebook still had lots of stuff about her, her art, her religion, her interests in nature, etc. It is a rare treat to have a friend who doesn't completely descend into mommy identity.

I have noticed a lot of the fashionistas I admire are childfree, you, Sal, Gala, Susie Bubble, The Queens, Jentine, Shybiker and so many more. Perhaps serious fashion blogging is mostly a childfree activity.

Great entry.

Secret Squirrel said...

Thank you for saying what rolls around my head...

Jessica said...

I love this outfit! I love the colors together and it has given me inspiration (something that is hard to do). I'm also loving this new hair cut and colors. Yum!

I, too, have remained childless by choice. Your ability to articulate this subject is incredible. I have one really good friend with whom I have tried my best to keep the relationship going. She has two small children. It's so very hard. Because we live a good 45 minutes apart and she always has something going on or I have something going on, when we do get together, I am the one going to her. As mentioned above by another commenter, my house is not child-friendly or child-proof. So it’s easier for me to go to her because the kid’s toys and beds are there so, if it’s nap time, they can nap, etc. But what I’ve also found is that she is home with the kids alone ten times more than her husband. The one time we did plan a shopping trip together, he changed his mind and had her take the youngest boy with her so he could go golfing. I was a bit disheartened by this.

I’ve also found that, even when my friends with children have parties, I don’t get invited regardless of the fact that it’s a come one, come all affair. Or because I’m not married (I do have a boyfriend), we are excluded when other couples get together. I don’t understand.

I’ve invited my friends to adults-only events and they end up not coming. Most of my friends with children don’t like to be away from their kids. It’s such a hard issue to work through.

I also think that my friends often think that they burden me with asking me to do things because their kids will be there. I hate when people decide for me what is burdensome or what I would or wouldn’t like to do. At least ask. Let me decide for myself.

I will say that my one good friend does a great job and trying to not talk poopy diapers constantly, but the other friend that we both have in common only seems to have mommy stories so it’s a tough dynamic when we do all try to get together.

I also have to chime in about people not taking the time to fully understand what it means and what it takes to be a parent. I have friends who have to have children immediately after getting married because it’s like the next step in life or something. Then they have children and it’s a constant piss and moan session. It’s a huge problem today. People think babies are all cute and cuddles. I asked another friend the other day to explain to me exactly why people want to have children. I’m not trying to be a jerk. I really find it hard in today’s society to want to even think about raising children. But beyond that, I literally don’t understand the desire. My friend suggested things like unconditional love and being important to someone. All things that seemed selfish to me. And I really don't mean that in a bad way. I just have come to a place where I lack the understanding of the desire. I would also really like to see people really examine these things before taking the plunge is all.

Audi said...

sara star: That's an interesting observation about style bloggers. Undoubtedly the child-free do have more time for such pursuits. But I also find it really satisfying that many blog readers are harried moms, who are able to quickly find inspiration from child-free folks like me. So you see, we're indirectly doing our part. ;-)

Jessica: Great observations. I've noticed that the moms who are best able to keep their own identities are the ones who get a lot of help and support from dad. As for getting invited to things, I totally agree: I certainly appreciate being told I can opt out with impunity because there will be kids there, but at least give me the option. I also think it's interesting that child-free folks are often accused of being selfish; I'd argue that they're just more realistic than people who rush into having kids without thinking it through. Either way it's a choice that you make for you and you alone; the world at large isn't affected by whether you have kids or not. It's not as if the human race is at risk of going extinct from people not reproducing. And even if it were, would the world be worse off without us?

meegiemoo said...

I recently took the step to have a tubal ligation - as a person with no children, I think this sent a signal to people who were still prodding me about having kids to realize that it's not happening.

My husband and I have tried unsuccessfully to remain close to our friends with kids. You're bang on when you say it's a difficult bridge to span. Luckily there are more and more childfree people and couples around for companionship.

as an aside, I'm doubly jealous of you having gone to the Duran Duran concert in SF. I went to Paris to see them and they cancelled due to SLB's ongoing voice issues. =(

Michelle said...

A friend was cornered at a wedding by a new parent and asked when she was going to have kids. When she replied that it wasn't on her agenda, the new parent was all "but life is meaningless if you don't have children!"
To which my darling friend replied "well, you tell that to Mother Teresa then" :-)

Shybiker said...

Oh, I was so attracted to your discussion on having kids that I neglected to say how much I like your boots. They're extraordinary.

Carmen said...

"... many blog readers are harried moms..."

YES. Thanks, that's me! Being a working mom in grad school means making choices. I had a crap mom (who has reformed mind you) so I take my mommyness seriously.

All that being said, the fashion blog world has given me another creative outlet that takes less time, cultivates thriftiness, and opens up another group of people to identify with (You think being a non-parent is rough, try being an agnostic in the BIBLE BELT. I'm constantly "invited" to church). I'm very grateful to have found this little niche. At least until my kids are highschoolers and I have the time/space to do all that I want to do again! My wonderfully arty/hippie/cool MIL promises it will happen again :)

Fawn said...

I hear you, my child-free sister!

I will say that it's been a pleasant surprise to discover that a lot of my friends who got swallowed up by parenthood are now re-emerging now that their kids are school-age. They still have a lot less time, but now that they're not on call 24/7, they can manage to get together for the occasional cocktail or movie. And maybe it's just that I have excellent taste in friends, but for the most part, they still have lots of stuff to talk about other than their kids. I wasn't expecting that at all and I'm glad to have been wrong.

Oh, and cute haircut!

Audi said...

Meegiemoo: Oh man, bummer about Duran Duran! Hopefully they'll come around again.

Michelle: What a great comeback! I'll have to remember that one.

Carmen: It seems we've hit upon a way to bridge the divide. Moms, spend time with your child-free friends talking about fashion!

Anonymous said...

In my experience (almost 57) you'll get those friends back when the kids head off to college, then you lose them AGAIN!? when they acquire grandchildren. Not much to be done about it I reckon...

Una said...

Love the outfit and the fascinating discussion.

I am a late-to-motherhood parent of a 7 year old boy. Before I had my son, I vowed I never wanted kids. It infuriated me that people would insist that women needed children to be complete. Then I hit a my mid-30s, everyone stopped asking me, and I changed my mind. That was my prerogative and a personal choice I do not regret. It’s not one I expect anyone else to make. I NEVER ask women why they don’t want kids, or tell them they’ll change their mind. Parenthood is not for everyone, and I’m respect that.

But I do know that when I was child-free, I still felt my friends with children were well worth the effort. I visited them at their homes or babysat so they could see other friends. I enjoyed being the crazy aunt who bought their kids ice cream and shared common interests with their teenagers. Although many comments here are likening the birth of a child to the death of a friendship, that does not have be the case at all. Now that I’m a mom, maybe I can’t go to a movie on five minutes notice any more, but how about calling a day ahead of time? True friendship is about rolling with the punches, be it a birth, an illness, a divorce, a sex change. Hell, a marriage doesn’t look the same after 40 years - why should a friendship be expected to? A little bit of effort on both sides (and I’ve been on both sides) makes a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

Totally feeling this topic! At 34, almost all our friends have at least one child and for some reason, none of them seem very keen on baby sitting. When I was a child, my mum and her friends had a babysitting club where they swapped with each other. Sounds like a great idea to me (as a nonparent)!

So, yes, I mourn when a friend says she's pregnant. Even with heaps of notice it seems very difficult to meet up.

It is hard to organise events that work for people to bring their children (not a very child friendly house) and they can only stay for an hour or so anyway until the child gets bored or needs to go to bed.

Most of my friends don't do that excellent parenting trick of bringing a few toys and a snack wherever they go so the kids need entertaining and are prone to eat all the chips. I guess we could get a few suitable toys...

Also, at an event with children there, you can't seem to have a conversation of more than about one sentence at a time without being interrupted by the child or needing to make sure the child doesn't brain themselves on the coffee table or whatever.

I miss my friends. :(

CecĂ­lia said...

I'm a mom and for the first 2 years it was very dificult to conciliate scheduelles even for me to have time for myself so I understand why new parents do not have so much time as they used to have. It's the same when you have a new job, or studying hard for some exam.
But, and although I love my child, I always wondered why everyone else thought that after spending days on end with my child ,when I meet friends for coffee I want to speak about children.
Yes, I can speak about the new cute thing my child did and most of the times I do it because it is what others expect of me but I would rather be talking about something else.
And if you think you get the looks because you don't want to have children , try to be a mother of an only child and explain that you're ok with that number, you are not going to try for number 2.Then not only you are a horrible person but you also are a bad mother because your child would be so happy to have a sibiling.
I respect your choices but would also like people to understand that my child is part of my life but it is not me, I'm still a woman who would like to have a interesting conversation once in awhile.

Michelle M. said...

Hi Audi,

I've been reading your blog for the past few months but have never commented. So first, let me say that you've really inspired me to play around with my style. I've purchased a few more adventurous pieces, I've experimented with color combinations and I've combined pieces in ways I hadn't thought of before. Thank you.

Now...I'm the mother of an almost two-year-old. I delayed having kids for a while because I was afraid of losing myself...and I'm glad I waited. I'm a much better mother in my mid-30s than I would have been in my mid-20s because my sense of self was that much stronger going into parenthood. My husband and I resolved that as much as we love our kid, our kid wouldn't become our entire life. We'd have a life *with* the kid.

First off, we were moving to a new city for me to start a new job right after the baby was born (because why not add another cataclysmic life change while we're at it?) When we were house shopping, we knew that if we wanted a social life, we'd have to bring it to us. We bought a house with a big dining room and living room for entertaining and a finished basement which houses most of my son's toys. This way, we can preserve some adult space that doesn't look like a toy store threw up all over the place. My son is pretty reliably in bed by 7 every night, so when we have people over, we tell them they can come any time after 6. Those who want to see him for a little bit come then, those who don't come closer to 7 - their choice. Once my son's in bed, we can relax and enjoy our company.

We can't get a babysitter all the time (it adds up financially!), but we do recognize the need to get out of the house! We can't be as spontaneous as we used to be...we have to work to get the sitter and the friends align. But we get out with friends at least a couple times a month.

So...I think it can be done if effort is made on both sides. I'm happy to say that we have a group of friends who love to come over to *both* play with my son before bedtime and then enjoy a drink with us when he's in bed. Not bad for life with a kid. ;-)

Again...I love your blog. Thanks for the inspiration.

Lisa said...

I'm a mom of 3, and my best friend is childless by choice. Or, in her words, "I don't have kids because I don't want to go to jail." We maintained our friendship when others (including other new parents) faded because she was willing to meet me halfway--or often more when needed. I had severe postpartum mental illness after my first kid. My friend saw, when others could not, that I no more chose to lose myself than someone who decides to go swimming chooses to drown. She came to my house bearing movies and food when I could not leave, and continues to be flexible about plans and when the realities of parenthood and flakey babysitters intrude. Ten years later, we both have a friend for whom we'd kill if necessary.

All of which is to say that there is no need to lose a friendship simply because your friend becomes a parent. If you can't bear to talk baby crap, bring a movie or a new book. I guarantee she hasn't seen or read it. Try to understand that she didn't know how intense and overwhelming and all-consuming this shit was going to be--because no one does going into it. Not EVERY friendship is worth the trouble, true. But the friends who ARE will be crazy grateful for your effort...and to have someone to talk to about ANYTHING BESIDES KIDS.

Kimberley said...

I'd first like to thank the above writer (Lisa) for filling in much of what I was thinking!!

Another point that I'd like to make here is children need influences in their lives besides their parents and can be ALOT of fun. This depends if course on whether people want to be around or even like children. More often than not kids enrich lives, are honest and can make you see things in ways you never did before!

I would like to put this challenge out there...

Could you find a way to share your creativity with a child?

How about making one of your fantastic funky hats for a little one? Get dirty with finger paints then realizing how beautiful the picture is! When they get older, teaching them how to make flowers or bugs out of felted wool. The list can go on and on...

It is also entirely possible that your friends baby could one day be a friend of yours too!! You can inspire and be inspired by children!

I've posted this comment before, "the world needs more aunties". Let's celebrate this role!!

All the best!
Kimberley

Anonymous said...

I love you blog and your style! This post felt like you had taken my thoughts and put them into your own words. I am 28, single, have just started my career and have all the freedom I want or need. That being said, I have friends and family that have several children already. I grew-up around children and babysat for others from the ages of 12-16.
I have known for a long time that kids were not for me. I don't want them and I don't want to spend extended periods of time with them.
This is VERY hard for many to understand, and even harder for many of the parents realize that their children are may not be as adorable as they may think.
So unfortunately, with many friends conversations and visits have become shorter, and some have disappeared completely. For myself this is okay, I believe people come in and out our lives for a reason. As we follow our paths we may connect again.
p.s. I would never want to do a craft or paint with someone's child. lol
Jen

Audi said...

Anonymous (Jen): Haha, I'm with you -- I'm more than happy to lure my parent friends out for an adults-only evening or even hang out at their place after the kids are in bed, but the simple fact is that I don't enjoy being around kids at all, and I'll actively try to avoid being around them (I actually clear out of my office and basically go and hide when people bring their kids to work -- that's how kid-phobic I am). They just make me uncomfortable. That's why it's so difficult to connect with friends whose kids are the center of their universe. What I need are the people who can manage to have kids and not get swallowed up in the process and lose themselves, but those are pretty hard to come by.