Getting married and having children before my peers put me at a disadvantage for group playdates and mommy outings, but being the first to divorce put me in yet another category: The Single Friend.
I’ve always been an old soul. I guess being raised by your grandparents will do that. I have very old-school values and ways of thinking when it comes to manners, common courtesy, parenting, and relationships too. By the age of twenty-two, I’d had my first child and was married. Most of my friends at that time were still in college but I was already “living the dream” of adulting in corporate America.
As a result, I sort of gravitated to my co-workers that were older for friendship because they were married, had already done the mom thing a time or two, and had a lot more insight into mom and wife life. Eventually, my friends graduated college and came back home. One by one they started to get married and have children of their own but by this time even my youngest child, who is ten now, was older than most of their children, or anyone else for that matter, that I had met around the same age as myself that had children. It’s still like that present day.
When people ask how old my children are, it’s always the same comments, “oh your kids are grown” or “you don’t look old enough to have an eighteen-year-old”. Well, thank heavens for good genes. Contrary to popular belief, single moms don’t have the plague, but I digress. Even though I appear to have a condition called “Chronically Single”, I was never the stereotypical single friend like you see on tv or in the movies.
I mean for starters I still had children to raise and then there’s that old school thing again, so a lot of my interests were not that of the typical twenty-year-old at the time. I like going to the movies, concerts, plays, road trips, luxury travel, fine dining, cafes, wine, and there are never enough quiet evenings at home, being a busy mom of three.
I don’t have the same core group of friends these days, but the other day it dawned on me that even now the majority of my friends and acquaintances are still either married with children or in a relationship. Heck, I’m even the single friend in my own family most of the time. So what does this mean? It means I’m often alone. Not lonely, just alone. I suppose the older I get, this has the potential to turn into loneliness but for now just alone.
Many of the things I like to do for fun are activities most women involved in a relationship would tend to do with their significant other. For example, I gave up going to the movies for a long time because I never had anyone to go with, and then one day I had just enough time after work and before I had to pick up my daughter from daycare to go see Fifty Shades, and that was one of the most freeing things I’ve done in my thirties. Now I’ll go to the movies alone in a heartbeat. I don’t even think about it. Traveling is something else I realized I’ve been missing out on in my thirties and while I’ll solo travel to some extent, I haven’t quite worked up the nerve to solo travel out of the country. However, I’ve also realized that life as the Single Friend will eventually equate to no life at all if I kept waiting to be fit on the calendar of my married/in a relationship counterparts.
I guess I never really learned how to be the Single Friend correctly. A big chunk of my twenties was spent being a wife and mom, and so those are the type of women I identify with most from a friendship perspective. I have single friends too but most of them don’t have children and I don’t necessarily have that energizer bunny energy to party like a Rockstar, attend event after event, and then although my children are older, I still prefer to plan things, rather than to just live life on the edge and do things spontaneously. So a lot of times I decline their invitations and they decline mine because the things I like to do (refer to the paragraph above) could be deemed “boring” by them. What a conundrum.
It’s not just socializing where being the Single Friend is tricky but it can also get tricky in day-to-day conversation. I mean in some aspects you’re not living the same life, so can you really chime in on their relationship / marital challenges, can they relate to your life as a single mom or even dating challenges? If your children are older can your friends with younger children give you advice on experiences they haven’t had yet? Be careful not to isolate here. I say that because I know how easy it is to do. There’s a saying “check on your strong friends”, but I’d say check on your single friends too. They’re probably carrying a lot more than they share because they don’t want to be burdensome and people tend to shrug off and minimize the issues of those not living life by ideal societal standards. To anyone living life as “The Single Friend” just like me, let’s have coffee and chat!