Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Friendships. The Casualty of Kids (and PPD)

I know some of you have hinted at this in your own blogs and I've been thinking about it for quite some time myself.
When you are pregnant people tell you things like how much your life is going to change and people who you thought were your friends will disappear.
Chicken and I took a good look around and thought..."who will it be?"

We thought we had a pretty good idea, but we were wrong. There are lesbians who've been tight with us for years who have pretty much dropped off the face of the earth for close to a year now. Too busy, they say...but FB is a demon. We know they are in our neighborhood, out and about.
When the boys were itty bitty, they wanted to stop by and could find the time to come over and hold a baby. But when the babies started getting more active and coming over involved more 'twin wrangling work' rather than sitting around and eating/talking/relaxing while a baby slept in your arms....they stopped coming over.

It's hard to just 'visit' with people when you are trying to raise twins. There is always something that I need to be doing or a kid to be watching or....the list goes on and on. It's hard to meet other moms at playgrounds and groups because I'm going in two different directions and can't stand there and talk. And mostly, it's hard in this city. Because as much as I really do love my neighborhood and love this city, there aren't ANY gay/lesbian families near us. We've got friends in Jersey and upstate and Brooklyn, but it is very difficult for us to get to these places cheaply and easily...
The last time we ventured to Jersey for an afternoon birthday party we spent over $100 on a Zipcar and then got it back late and incurred a $50 fine (which was later reversed because I argued it...) PLUS the cost of the birthday gift! It's just not something we can do every weekend no matter how much we miss our friends and want to see them.

We've been lucky to make some 'mommy' friends here in our 'hood, but we know that they...like us...might not stick around. It's easy to have a baby in Manhattan. It's much harder to have children. There comes a point that most people make a run to the burbs (or Brooklyn!) or a smaller city or pack it all up and head to the country.
We don't know where we'll end up and most of my friends here in the city are also unsure.

I grew up in a life of uncertainty. I had a different address every year for most of life. We have lived in this apartment for 6 years which is the longest time I've ever remained in one place. I have never lived in a house my entire life. Owning a house is a completely foreign concept to me.
As much as I accept my gypsy soul, I also want some level of stability for my boys.
I'd like for them to have a home and grow up with the same friends. I'd like to make friends, really GOOD friends--other parents and raise our kids together, going to the same schools, babysitting for each other, hanging out at different houses.
This could still happen, even here in NYC. It doesn't have to be 'somewhere else'. But I feel like everyone I meet is only here for a limited amount of time before finding greener (and bigger and cheaper) grass somewhere else.

And the friends I used to have? The childless ones have slowly faded away, seen only once or twice a year. Others have moved away for good. Some have disappeared completely--even though they may live very close by. Those with children are understanding, but have busy lives themselves and don't live close enough to just get together at random.

When I moved to NYC 13 years ago, I formed a fast, tight knit group of friends. We spent almost every weekend together. Then one by one...the 3 year window* hit and most of them were victims. Our circle was broken.
A new circle was formed when Chicken and I met. This time my social circle looked like a cross between Sex and the City and The L Word. Many, many, many parties and all of the debauchery that goes with crazy parties. I outgrew the debauchery and lost my circle of friends who were still going strong. It was fun while it lasted.
And then came my solo travels and the MBA and the baby plans and Chicken traveling 5 days a week for work. Friends were lost. Friends moved. Friends were outgrown.

I know I haven't been the best friend this past year and I'm thankful so many people have stuck by me even when I couldn't have been very pleasant to support.
I haven't been myself and haven't had the energy to do much other than focus on my kids and get through the day. There have been phone calls ignored and emails unanswered and plans cancelled because all I wanted to do was sleep. Just being a friend and exerting that kind of energy sounded too challenging and fatiguing.
But it's a new year and a new reality for me now. I'm ready to get myself back and that means either getting my friends back or making some new ones.
Either way--I need more of a support group than I currently have. I used to have a very strong circle of female and male friends. I miss it terribly. I ache for it. My best friends are scattered all over the world now. I can't get them all back in one place. But, I can be a better friend to them and try my best to make new ones now.

*Three years is a changing point for people who live in NYC. Most leave by the 3 year mark. If you stay past 3 years, chances are you are either staying for good or at least for a VERY long time.


jessie said...

My best friends are scattered too and with working full time it's not always easy to get together with people on weekends. Im actually grateful to go to work for this reason so I get decent adult interaction andim lucky to work with friends. It sounds like your starting to get some time to focus on you. That's awesome! Good luck

N said...

It's hard even not in NYC, I can only imagine it there. My circle of friends has changed in ways that was totally unexpected. And, oddly enough, I ended up getting back friends from a decade or so ago, that I hadn't talked to in forever. I hope you guys figure out what's good and right for you. <3

Nicole said...

Oh I hear ya. I have lots of friends with kids but none in my 'hood and even fewer who are queer. I know the distance between the east and west village means one of us might as well live in Brooklyn, but I'd love to meet up for some twin-wrangling one day. I don't scare easily :-)

Laurie said...

Ahh, this all sounds so familiar. We have seen people fade away, or still not realize that we have a child (want to have dinner at 8p, for example).

I'm with Nicole... we are up for twin wrangling! :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting post. I moved to NYC with a 3-yr-old, and then had another kid a year later, so never experienced babydom (or babydom without kiddom) here. I can say that 1. as your kids get older, the social networks will seem more stable as you'll meet people who are committed to staying with kids here for the long haul. There is some suburban flight around preschool age but less than you'd think; and 2. when your kids start daycare or preschool (a ways off, i realize, but closer than you think!), you will have a ready-made group in terms of the parents (which is why it's important to pick a school based as much on the community it offers you and your family as on anything else). My partner and I both work full time, and I like my colleagues, but 98% of our familial social life revolves around other parents (of kids' friends) and NOT around folks from work. We have even been known to get together with those parents on the rare occasions we have a sitter! 3. come on up to the UWS! It's (more or less) hip, crawling with babies, and has many gay fams to boot. As you say, this is a city of neighborhoods, and each one has a very different feel....Even if you have outgrown yours, it doesn't mean you've outgrown the city.

Kathryn said...

Wait?! Are there lesbian moms in Manhattan? No way! I sure haven't found any! We just moved to the UES, and I fear, like you've said, that we won't make it past the three year mark. That sounds very reasonable to me. We have not found a single kindred spirit here, though they must be around here somewhere... We did happen upon a lesbian couple and their baby at an ATM one day.. and felt totally stalkerish that we briefly thought about following them!! But, really? How do you find people to connect with? It's so hard.. and when your child doesn't stay up past 7pm or you risk the wrath of all that is evil? forget about it!
Good luck, it has to be possible... it just has to!

Anonymous said...

Anon again: My kids are a bit older (5 and 9) and have been in preschool/school for a while now, but most years they've had at least one gay fam in their classes. (They have gone to preschool on UWS and now a progressive school on UES.) It depends, of course, on the school (hence my comment about the importance of choosing schools based on community!) I don't want to anonymously hijack this blog with school info (god knows it's a little early to start THAT anxiety train for these twins) but am happy to share off line. For the record, we are not a same-sex fam--so my impressions could be totally off base ("one gay fam=wow look at all those gay fams!"), but I know a number of gay fams personally/by association, and I know which schools these families have chosen...I'm just surprised there's no network for s-s families in this city?? There's a network for EVERYTHING in this city! Surely there's a Peanut Allergic Mandarin-Speaking Triplet Lesbian Moms playgroup? Have you checked craigslist?

K J and the kids said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. The one's that piss me off though are the friends that had kids around the same time as me and they had single friends who stuck around and were the most amazing "auntie's" EVER. Take care of the kids. buy them presents. were present at every activity or event. I even have a friend who's "aunties" slept over on Christmas night to help set up and be there Christmas morning to see the kids faces. SERIOUSLY.
All while my friends walked away. and most of them have since had kids of their own.


I hope that you are able to network. It's very important to have some contact out there.
Good luck.
It sounds like you have people around you that want to help :)

Anonymous said...

This is so well said and so much how I'm feeling right now. To top it all off, we ARE moving to the 'burbs, so the few mom-friends I've been are likely going to disappear. Come move to the Chicago 'burbs. The boys would have a blast AND we'd have friends!

Gayby Rabies said...

yup, i know all about the vanishing friends. our childless friends disappeared pretty quickly once the novelty of babies wore off. and we were the first of our friends who had kids, so you do the math. i feel incredibly lucky that we had twins, because it has allowed us to meet people through a mothers of multiples organization. i have no idea how we'd connect with anyone if we'd had a singleton and no special club to join! still, we are the only 2 mom family in the group. although everyone is very friendly and accepting, there are still moments when it's clear that we present a unique situation. we tried joining our local rainbow families group, but those people are disorganized! we still don't know any 2 mom families in real life. dunno what i'd do without the blog community.

Anonymous said...

Sounds all too familiar. We still have some great friends who have stuck around but they are all childless and its hard to get together with them. We can't have them over for dinner and sit, laughing and drinking wine all night, like we used to. Its a major production to get together and the evening is interrupted constantly by baby wrangling. I admit, I find myself withdrawing a bit from my childless friends.

As for friends with kids, we only have a few and I wouldn't consider them close. Most of our close friends with kids have moved away and we are stuck with FB to stay connected. Also, its hard to stay connected when everyone is so busy with their families.

We are trying to make an effort to expand our circle of friends with kids, especially LGBT families or twin families but its hard.

Here's hoping you find a great new support system full of amazing and committed friends.

Anonymous said...

It's not just NYC. I live in Colorado and outside of my partner and son, do very, very little socializing. Everything here revolves around the bars and we don't go to bars. Most of the lesbian parents we've met have different schedules or parenting ideas or attitudes when it comes to raising their kids. We are also ahead of the gayby curve in that our son is 11. Most of the lesbian parents we've met are parenting toddlers or kids four or five years younger than our son.

We tried a meetup but it was obvious that the majority of those women had known each other for years, had gotten preggers at the same time, had kids within a couple of months of each other. They were still in the sit around and hold sleeping babies while my son was in the "climb the gutter and jump off the roof phase."

Its especially hard when you don't live where you went to school, or in an area with family. We are very isolated. Let me know if you figure it out.