Mind the Gap! Friendships & childlessness

How to navigate your female friendships when you're childless... and they're not

older women in sauna laughing

One of the most surprising issues that comes out of the woodwork when dealing with unchosen childlessness (and often when chosen too), is the nature, health and continuation of our female friendships.

As someone who spent 15-years expecting to become a mother, but for whom it didn’t work out, I was in such denial about my ongoing infertility that I actually didn’t find keeping up my friendships with mothers all that hard. After all, I was convinced it would be ‘my turn’ one day. But since that day several years ago when I knew for sure that I would never be a mother, things have shifted.

You see, if you don’t have children, not only are you living different lives from those friends whose lives have run parallel to yours for so many years, but somehow you’re now also embroiled in some weird competition against each other… About whose life is ‘better’ or ‘worse’?!

A hypothetical mother looking at my life as a childless woman, might notice that I have a clean and tidy home with lots of sharp edges, no primary coloured toys and an awful lot of books. That I’m studying for yet another Masters and have a wide range of intellectual interests. That I do meaningful and fulfilling work and don’t have to feel guilty about working evenings and weekends when that’s what’s called for. That I plan my life around my own needs, and don’t get woken up at 5.30am every morning. If you’re someone for whom even the idea of cleaning your teeth undisturbed has become a fantasy, that must look amazing!

However, some of the things that might be invisible to her might be my existential loneliness, my alienation from mainstream culture, my frequent boredom with my own needs and a sense, sometimes, despite working extremely hard and giving a lot to others, of not giving ‘enough’, not sharing ‘enough’ of not being ‘enough’. Of what it’s like to live a life as a woman with no status or identity in our culture right now. She also might not realise that because living as a single person is so expensive, I don’t actually get to spend all that ‘free time’ she envies travelling and attending cultural events because it’s simply not affordable. She may not realise how much time I spend alone, and what kind of internal resources I’ve had to develop to be okay with that.

As a single, childless woman looking at a hypothetical mother’s life, I might notice that every area of wall space in her home is covered with photos from family holidays and events and milestones, or drawings brought home from school. I might fantasize about how comforting it must be to have the security of knowing what’s mapped out for her, how her life has a fixed orbit, with her children at the centre of it. That she doesn’t have to wonder ‘what she’s for’ because she doesn’t have the time for that kind of navel-gazing existential angst. That by the time she’s sorted out the packed lunches and sleepovers, as well as keeping a foot-hold in her professional life (or worrying that she’s let it all go and she’ll never get it back), all she has time to do is spent a few moments on the sofa with a child’s head in her lap, stroking their hair.

And might I not see? Well, it’s hard for me to know, because mothers rarely ‘tell’ women who aren’t mothers what it’s really like – but from those who have breached the barricades, I’ve learned about the sense of feeling ‘used up’ by her children, of not always ‘liking them’, of feeling like she and her partner have become servants and co-workers rather than friends and lovers, that she feels intellectually numbed and sometimes finds the philosophical and intellectual discussions of her childless and childfree friends exhausting, pretentious and scary. That she sometimes wonders, knowing what she knows now, whether she’d do it again. That sometimes she has to lock herself in the bathroom with her kids screaming and thumping on the door because she’s ‘so close’ to shaking them that it scares her. But then she pushes those thoughts aside because she LOVES her children, couldn’t imagine her life without them.

We need to find a way to open a dialogue between mothers and nomos (not-mothers, my term). To name, describe and domesticate the elephant in the room. If intimacy and honesty are really the same thing, without being honest with each other, friendships become a performance. And then they wither away and die.

This is all very well, but it’s hard.

If you’re still grieving the children you never had, the family life that will never be yours, time around your friends who’ve ‘got it all’ can be so hard that you’re almost unable to speak, let alone have an honest dialogue  And our friends know that, and often feel guilty because of it. (As I understand it from the mothers who’ve opened up to me, the over-riding feeling of being a mother is guilt!)  And because they often don’t know how to talk to us about our childlessness, sometimes they might not seem to care.  Frankly, it’s easier to just let things slide… and spend more and more time with their new ‘school gate’ friends. And we may find it harder and harder to sit there through the only ‘safe’ conversation topic: ‘the children’,  until it become relentless, alienating and, let’s be honest, dull. Really dull. What we’re hungry for, starving for, is a proper conversation with our friend, but she seems to have moved to another country called ‘motherhood’ – the one place we’re never going to go to, a language we’re never going to speak. So what can we do?

As childless women, we have to accept that this is our problem, not theirs.

Our reality, uncomfortable and unchosen as it is – is ours to deal with. Being childless sucks, but that’s life. We have to deal with it, but we don’t have to do it alone (in fact, we can’t do it alone – we’ve tried). We need to lick our wounds and heal our grief with the support of our own tribe (other childless women), not with our friends who are mothers. They’ve got their hands full, and a tearful, tricky, erratic and resentful old friend is more than they’ve got time to deal with. And it’s not unusual for their kids to pick up on what’s not being said too, and start to feel uneasy around us…

Finding our new tribe is more difficult for us than our mother-friends realise, because we don’t have ‘the school gates’ to find each other. There are no natural social gathering spots for childless women, and we’re harder to spot in the wild, as we don’t have distinctive markings or accessories of mothers… But we are around, if you look for us, and if you have the nerve to self-identify and see who says, “me too.”

Part of coming to terms with our childlessness is also about coming to terms with the fact that our friendships are going through a seismic shift. But that doesn’t mean we have to write them off. However, what it does mean is that we need some new friendships who ‘get’ us in order to bridge the motherhood gap. And once we feel heard and understood in those new friendships, we may find that we are able to open our hearts wider to our friends who are mothers, and begin to see that their life isn’t quite what they expected either. Deeply satisfying, long-lasting female friendships are based on honesty: the kind of vulnerable, whistle-blowing “I’m having an affair”, “Can you take a look at this funny lump?” kind of honesty. The kind of honesty you’d feel most comfortable sharing with the woman you’ve known since you both wore braces.

They don’t want to lose us either. 

Empathy is rare, because to be empathetic, we have to be able to be present with our own pain, our own losses. And yet to heal the wound of our childlessness, we need company. If we want our old friendships to survive this new reality, we have to give birth to our new selves. Our wholehearted and healed selves. 

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, it takes a tribe to heal a childless woman. And Gateway Women is that tribe. 

Welcome to your tribe.

57 Comments on Mind the Gap! Friendships & childlessness

  1. Beautiful article, and so brave and inspiring to see it being talked about. So often I feel so alone in that journey, the people around me in similar circumstances have been dealing with it longer and seem to either ‘not want to go there’ or have forgotten how it feels when it’s all so raw. I’m working towards acceptance but I’m not there yet.

    • Thank you Nysha. My thoughts have evolved since this post was first written, as have my friendships. It’s a huge area of struggle for so many of us. The best thing I did was to meet other childless women through the GW Online Community, and if you’d like to check that out, you’ll find it at: https://gateway-women.com/community Hugs, Jody x

  2. I’m a mother whose best friend is childless not by choice. The text implies that all mothers talk about is their kids and family life. This could not be further from the truth in my case. I have really tried to be sensitive to my dear friend’s situation and have not even as much as brought up child related topics and concerns unless she asks about them. I have tried to keep talking about other things we have in common instead. I have tried my best to support my friend through the years of her fertility struggle. Nevertheless our friendship has suffered greatly and is far from what it used to be. The final straw seems to be my friend couldn’t handle it when she found out I’m expecting baby #2. To be totally honest, I also find this hurtful and I haven’t done anything wrong to be disregarded as a friend. I have much understanding towards the difficult situation of childlessness, but shouldn’t the childless person also be able to look at things from the perspective of an old friend, not just the other way around? I would never expect particular excitement about my pregnancy or kids from her side, but also not having our friendship thrown away just because I happen to be more fertile.

    Would be great to hear Jody’s thoughts on this topic in more depth and detail.

    • Dear J – your friend is grieving, and no amount of thoughtfulness from you can change the fact that you got the life she wanted. Rather than seeing this as being about you, if you could try to extend your empathy just a little further, and let her know that you are there for her as/when she feels able to re-engage with your family life, that would be very kind of you. #NotAllMothers are thoughtless and unempathic, but that’s not the ones we generally encounter on a daily basis in our families, communities and society and it’s not the ones we generally need to share with each other about. I’m glad you are there for your friend. If you wanted to know more, I’d suggest you read chapter 4 of my book about childless grief. Hugs, Jody x

  3. I am a mum and I’ve read your article and the comments that follow. It saddens me to know that there are women who cannot empathise especially with their long term friends. I’m not perfect, I’m sure, but as a friend to quite a few women who are childless I cannot see any distinction between those friendships and the ones I have with other mothers. I really value time with them and our shared histories and interests have not changed or been negatively affected by me becoming a mum. This conversation seems to me to be as much about women and friendship as it is about childlessness. I will continue to read these articles as I think it’s important to understand other women’s experiences and to support each other.

    • I’m 41, been married twice, now with my partner who is currently getting divorced and has an 8 year old daddy’s girl. It’s been hard to fit in and know my boundaries. Now being part of such a large family with lots of cousins i feel even more exposed as to not having a child of my own. The annual family holiday is always the same where i end up feeling so fed up with the constant reminder i’m not a mum and a spare part. At 17 i had an abortion and have never been able to conceive again. All my long term friends have children and i am still good friends with them but every day someone else at work is pregnant and it’s so hard to be all happy for them. Sometimes i just want to lock myself away from it all.

    • are you sure you had an HONEST conversation with your childless friends about your friendship?

      I am childless not by choice and I know that I have to hold back many many feelings and needs every single time I try to keep up a friendship with a woman who has become a mother.

      While we both were childless, friendship meant that our activities together met both our wishes and needs. Now, each time a friend has become a mother, my wishes and needs ALWAYS come second. EVERY time I want to talk to her or meet up with her. Meetings have to be scheduled according to the life rhythm of her baby, of her toddler, of her schoolchildren, of her family EVERY TIME. and I am NEVER allowed to criticize that.

      Before, when I thought a friend had made a bad choice or didn’t behave well with regards to a friend, a boyfriend, a hobby or a workplace, I was free to give advice, or criticize her (in an adequate wording of course). In fact, it was my JOB as a woman friend, to voice my opinion and give my advice, even criticism. NOW I listen to what she tells me about her children and family life and I think to myself that I see many things she could do differently. But am I asked to voice that? Now I am not. You cannot criticize someones family life or give advice when you don’t have children of your own. It is not called for. All I am expected to do is empathize while at the same time I am told it is not really possible to understand, because I lack the same experience.

      Are you SURE you know how your childless friends feel?

  4. This is what is happening to me. I am 38 single and childless. I still hoped to be married and have my own family until at 34, a friend who has two kids said “You? You? I would never have a baby after 35. It’s a huge risk. Why don’t you just adopt?” Shortly after another friend who is an at home mom informed me that she was putting me on her email only list. She didn’t have time to spend with friends who are not moms so her solution was to communicate with us childless friends by email only. She had informed me several times previously that I was not a mom as if I was less human. I have known her since age 13, been the maid of honor in her wedding, set up a birthday party for her two kids, but no longer qualify. Another friend recently, informed me, that my time in the military is what she believes was the mistake that prevented me from being married and having kids. I am contemplating getting artificial insemination and when discussed with a couple of friends was informed that they did not agree with it because I work. I am very sad about this. It’s like if you’re not a mother you’re no longer human.

    • Hi Bridget

      Thanks for your comment. I’m so sorry to hear of the frankly shitty treatment you’re getting from your friends. I wish I could say it was rare, but it’s not!

      I’d really like to encourage you to join our GW+ Community – it’s a safe and friendly space where you can share the daily reality of being a childless-by-circumstance woman. All applications are carefully vetted by me and I’m doing my best to make it a safe place for us in a world that is currently pretty hostile or dismissive to our experience.

      Click here for more info and to apply for free membership.

      We have members from all over the UK and all over the world and as well as getting together online they are now starting to meetup. In the past few months there have been lunches, dinners, drinks and walks from Glasgow to Sydney and there are more springing up all the time. It’s becoming that ‘school gate’ networks that we also miss out on…

      Jody x

  5. Jodi, I was very moved by this article. You expressed what I feel on a daily basis so eloquently. Thank you. I feel like my heart has been searching for someone to understand that existential angst you so beautifully talked about. I can feel myself easing into my life a little more just by finding you and the GW group you’ve started. There are still so many quetions, but I don’t feel as lost because I know now that this group is there and the answers will come eventually. Thank you so much.

  6. Hi Jody, great article! Even though I am childfree, I still experience (have experienced) the same things. It’s been hard to even admit to myself that I stay away from some friends because their lives (rightly!) centre around their children.

    This friend in particular chooses to call me while she’s either making dinner or lunch and her children are demanding her attention! The conversation is punctuated by I’m sorry, you were saying’ too many times, I loose train my train of thought etc….I have learnt to take the back seat, and forge relationships and friendships with other people who are willing – even with children.

    • Thanks Viv – and yes, the image of your friend who only calls you when she’s making lunch or dinner is a strong one. However, it may be the only moment she has – and she’s using it to connect with you which must say a lot about the strength of your relationship. Great to have your voice here – so great to have childfree as well as childless voices heard at GW! Jody x

  7. Thank you Jody for such a heart felt article touching on something that can be such a painful issue on the childless path. Having moved around a lot and not been particularly settled in my early adult life I have had lots of friends come and go. As life has changed so have the people I have hung out with, with a few exceptions who have become long term friends. But the mummy gap is a particularly difficult one. As I come to terms with the hand life is dealing me, one thing that I am finding so hard is being at social events or family dos and everyone is talking about their children or their babies/pregnancies. It’s hard not to feel like a spare part. Last summer we invited two couples round to ours for a barbecue. The men got talking about men’s stuff while I was with the women who basically talked over my head about pregnancies and babies. At the end of the evening I felt like I’d been run over by a train. I am grateful however for the childfree/less friends that we have whereby we can go and have a conversation that isn’t one sided or parallel (I don’t how you describe a conversation where you talk about your stuff and they talk about theirs but there is no commonality). I am also grateful for one very good mummy friend with whom we have achieved that openness and honesty and mutual support for one another’s lives. But we also have things in common and I think all friendships need that in order to survive the mummy gap.

    • Emily you are so right. I experienced the same for years sometimes the superiority of some mothers is unbearable – so unbearable I began to join in with the men’s conversations instead! This might cause problems though – Mothers react to this differently – the reasonable ones don’t mind! Like me you have at least one mummy friend who understands….try to get the other mummy friends to understand that constant baby talk is boring – even for mothers!! – again, the reasonable ones won’t mind this. Being a ‘non’ mother certainly lets you know who your real friends are. Even if mothers are so busy and under constant stress, they still have the capacity to understand…if they can be bothered to make the effort and the reasonable ones usually can and do. Trouble is, you have to at least give people a hint of how you feel. If they slightly alter their behaviour as a result – then they are worth bothering with. Remember you are never alone and we are all different. Keep faith in humans and women, most of them are doing their best.

      • Hi Liz – yes, I used to talk ‘to the men’ but you’re right, that creates problems too! These days, I don’t get invited to many events where there are mothers – I tend to see them one-on-one and our conversations are a mixture of my stuff and their stuff. And sometimes I want to talk about their children and they want to talk about other stuff. But I agree – “Keep faith in humans and women – most of them are doing their best”. That’s totally the GW philosophy – and why I would never want to bash ‘Mums’ – there’s no such thing – only individual women – just as there’s no such thing as ‘the childless’. Empathy, honest dialogue and patience has got a better solution than writing off some of our dearest and most precious friendships! Jody x

        • Thanks for your comments Jody
          I think what you are doing is absolutely brilliant by the way. I wish I’d had you around 10 years ago!
          It has taken me a good while to see that I am still able to relate to women as ‘women’ since the pain of realising I wasn’t ever going to be a mother hit home.A lot of mothers need support to be women in their own right and not just ‘somebody’s mother’ My frustration now still lies in a lot of mothers being too stressed to realise that they are following a very narrow intellectual path. Being a mother is not enough if that is all they see themselves as. The wider issues are treatment of women in the media and in the world in general, and this of course includes mothers as you rightly say. Painful as it is to accept, a lot of women are duped into passivity and low aspiration through motherhood…and some are left equally bereft as us non mums once the kids have left home or if parenthood doesn’t live up to their expectations. Empty nest syndrome, or parental disillusionment are also symptoms of women being unable to be ‘real’ women.
          I also feel that a lot of mums have had to learn to be ‘devious’ and can unfortunately transfer this, whether consciously or not onto those around them. For example, I find that non mothers make better bosses in the main. Some women seem to think that because they have been a mother, they are more than qualified to manage people in general.
          Incidentally, a lot of men also feel the pain of not being a parent. It’s getting used to the idea that we will always be reminded of it throughout life and learning how to react to this which is the key to maintaining identity – whether man or woman.
          Anyway thanks again. Excuse the slight rant, ( was it?!) but the question of identity for all women and indeed men is so important and always has been. I sometimes think we have got no further than 1970’s! Without a strong sense of identity, we cannot empower ourselves to move forward and progress as a society.

      • Thank you Liz! I have to say that many mothers are under quite a bit of stress.. (at least the ones that I know) It seems today that the parental competition is fierce..
        Sometimes when I feel that I have unresolved pain, I am brought back to reality when I here the terrible news that someone has lost a child due to accidents or physical illness… then I think there really is no way to compare. The grief of a child that never will be or the grief of not seeing your child reach adulthood or continue to grow in their adulthood. Lots of thoughts this morning. I learned a few years ago to stay away from baby showers and find a way to send my gift without attending the party… Still too hard.
        Blessings to you, Debra J.

        • Also, you are right about finding our identity..
          What an incredible burden for a child to have to bear the identity or rather prop up a mother’s ego…
          I am a person before I am a wife, sister, mother……etc.,

        • Thank you Debra

          It’s good to hear that you understand children ‘as a person’. As you say ‘I am a person first’ and in my experience this has been the key towards my own acceptance. The fact that you understand that indeed some children do carry the burden of their parents’ egos, often in the guise of living their own dreams,thwarted ambitions, whatever, through their children whether the children like it or not, makes you a very special person in my book! Identity is supposed to be nurtured and continues to be as we become adults, and this includes how we nurture ourselves as well as those around us. I too have avoided celebrations of new babies, and sometimes get upset at inflated egos. In doing this however, I am reminded of who I am, or which phase i’m going through at any one time and in this way I can be true to my own feelings first. I am learning though that just because something is painful now, does not always mean it will be painful for ever.

          Stay strong and true to yourself

      • Oh, Liz, some days I am! Thanks for noticing.
        I enjoyed this article, but I was really hoping for concrete advise on how to do better by my childless friends. I have one very dear friend who is childless, and I know she gets very little support from her extended family. At first I felt guilty for having a wonderful child when I hadn’t really wanted to be a mum. I find myself saying thoughtless things or steering the conversation towards children. I swear it’s not to ‘rub her nose in it’, and she knows it, but it has to hurt sometimes.
        Short of being her surrogate, what can I do? We’ve discussed it, but I can not go through a second pregnancy with 0 support from my partner (maybe this isn’t the place to say it, but it was a very harm time for both of us as I was a hormonal mess and he was terrified, crushed by the sense of responsibility, and devoid of any affection towards the baby–there, you asked for honesty). I feel like a failure as a friend that I’m not going through with it.
        I’ll add that I see parents who talk incessantly about their children, but have very little interest in them as people. My partner call them “trophies” , which never understood, but you’ve shone some light on that too. Thank you!

    • Hi Emily – I think the reason you can’t find a word for the ‘conversations’ you describe is because they are not conversations – but something more like alternating monologues – and incredibly unsatisfying for everyone involved. I’m glad you’ve got some good friends who are mothers who ‘get it’.
      Jody x

      • Alternating monologues…I’ll remember that one…describes it perfectly. Thanks. They do leave you feeling sad and unconnected and wondering what the future of the friendship is…which as I write made me realise that as well as things in common there needs to be a sense of connection for the friendship to survive the mummy gap.
        Thanks again xx

    • Helen – thanks for commenting. Yes, I am positive about friendship, because now that I have healed the wound of my childlessness, I realise how much of the ‘problems’ I had with Mums was my problem, not theirs. And how much more empowering it is to realise that. We don’t have to be victims in this situation – but we do need to take responsibility for our own healing. Love, Jody x

  8. Hi Jody
    This is so well articulated. The gap is definitely there but some women with children understand. My cousin just had her second child and we have become very open about our differences but also still very supportive of each others lives. It was down to me however to get the ball rolling and tell her how I felt but my instinct was that she’d respond sensitively and she did. Yet the majority I know are moving on and too distracted to look up and notice I’m still there and that’s painful.

    • Hi Lucy – thanks for commenting – strangely enough since I healed (enough) from my grief, I find being around children/mothers easier, and it seems that they find it easier too. My godchildren and nephews and nieces respond to me differently too, and I find I am able to ‘see’ them more clearly as individuals, rather than mostly as representations of ‘what I don’t have’. I’m glad that you have a cousin who is able to be there for you. In time, you may find that the distracted ones also become more available, and they may also come to realise that their children get a different and refreshing view of the world from being around you. I won’t fib – the grief is rubbish – but it does pass, if we allow ourself to spend time with others who ‘get it’. Without the GW’s,I think I’d still be at home staring at the skirting board wondering what possible reason I had to stand up! Love, Jody x

  9. I’ve just been dropped like a hot potato by one of my ‘best friends’ who I have supported through relationship troubles and a miscarriage now she is pregnant again and passed the 12week scan. She wrote me note saying she doesn’t know what to say to me and I’ve had no contact since despite leaving her messages saying how happy i am for her. I was so upset regarding this until I read your blog jody. As it makes me realise her pain as well as mine and like you said sometimes friendships come back in later times. And if not the gateway girls are always here and there are still some very cool mum friends who do get it!

    • Emily – ouch! – I’m so sorry to hear that – must hurt soooo much. I’m glad that this blog helped to give you some perspective on things and I also hope that in time your friend is able to cope with her guilt over her ‘success’. Sounds like you’ve done all you can. Things may well change once the baby is born- she may be too ‘freaked out’ by her pregnancy to have an infertile sister around her right now. Tough – but i’ve heard it a lot. You may represent her greatest fear right now and so she can’t “see” you – only her fear of losing this baby. Just a thought, Love, Jody x

    • Thanks M. It does sound a bit daunting, but it’s a one step forward two step backwards kind of process – until one day you realise you’re in a new place. So it’s easier than it sounds. And slower!! Love, Jody x

  10. Mothers have stepped off the platform, over the gap, onto the Mummy train. They can’t see the gap, they don’t mind the gap. It’s not their problem. You fell in the gap, you get yourself out of it. They are bu-sy.

    • Joanne – the mummy train – yes, a good description. A train they can’t get off, and which we can’t board! Taking responsibility for our own healing sounds daunting, but is actually incredibly empowering. As no doubt being a mother is too. Different trains; different journeys. And we don’t have to do it alone – we have the GW train! Love, Jody x

  11. This is a great post that says so much. It can really be hard as you grow older and your once non-mom friends become moms, and suddenly there is a gap (or a huge chasm) that opens up between you. They’re (understandably) busy with their kids, so they can’t just join you for a girls night out, seeing a movie…hanging around on a lazy Saturday to bond over favorite old movies (and hunky actors!)

    In a way I was lucky in that many of my female friendships years ago were made via subcultures in the city where I lived that seemed to attract a lot of women – and couples – who were purposefully childfree or simply had so many other interests that having children was never a priority in their lives. They are still close friends today, which is vital now that I’m living out of the big city and instead in suburbia, where everyone around me is married-with-children and it’s so much harder to form new friendships and bonds with the women I see day-to-day.

    • Hi Sockii – thanks for commenting – great to have you onboard. I feel lucky that the ‘childbearing years’ are pretty well much over now for my friends. I am in resting gap now till the grandchildren, and until my nieces and god-daughters start (perhaps) having children. I, of all people, know that it’s not a given! Having childless/childfree friends is such a help, although I hardly know any couples, only singles. As a single, childless woman, I don’t really interact much with couples these days – just another version of the ‘exile’ that not being a mother causes. I know single mums feel it too, so it’s not just us. The old ‘nuclear family’ paradigm is dying hard!! And it’s not like it was a winning formula for human happiness and contentment in the first place! Thanks, Jody x

  12. Jody, thank you for sharing your thoughts so profoundly ,beautifully, and – I daresay – lovingly. My best friend has (I strongly believe) after many years of romantic disappointments, met the love of her life, and in the next couple of years will most likely marry + (hopefully) have children with him. As overjoyed as I am for their having found happiness and true partnership, I am also secretly heartbroken because I KNOW that motherhood will change the dynamic I have with her, as it has will all my Mom friends. I myself am ambivalent about having children (and time has practically run out for me to have them anyways), so that’s not so much the pain-causing issue on my part, moreso the inevitable time + emotional demands on her end. That’s life, as you said, and I wish her every joy in the world, but selfishly, I don’t look forward to seeing even less of her and trying to fill that gap in my life. I’ve lost too many friends already (not all due to parenthood of course!), and as years go by, it gets harder and harder to foster the type of intimacy/vulnerability that degree of friendship entails.

    • Stellacuriosa – my thoughts exactly! It’s a sad reality. I know I need to step up and make the effort to ensure my best friend and I don’t drift too far away from each other when she has her baby. But there’s no doubt things between us will change.

    • Stellacurious – I feel that sadness – the knowledge that things will change – but such is life. Those of us who are childless by circumstance have perhaps experienced (and experience) more losses it seems that ‘mums’, but that’s partly our own perspective. Shitty as it, everything changes. Loss is a part of life and I feel your pain at knowing that more is on the horizon. Motherhood does indeed change the dynamic, as does a new partner – but I hope that with the support of your sisters here at GW you can adjust and ride and perhaps even enjoy those changes (you never know?!) Love, Jody x

  13. thank you jodie
    This makes me appreciate my friends who went through mine and my husband’s years of agony with us and then had children of their own in quick succession at a late age. It seems that we have a close bond. Their eldest is now 6 and we see less of them all, but they made a huge effort to include us in their life change and we made the same effort to stay close and get them ‘back to normal’. When we see each other we are ‘mummy and daddy’s friends’, where they are ‘allowed to be themselves’. The children accept and understand this so well. they are lovely kids, our friends are great parents, and my husband and I really value their friendship. We and they went through some of what you describe so eloquently, whereas with so many other friends this did not/could not happen. New friends however are difficult to make….Give and Take isn’t just for parents.

    • Liz – I’m so happy for you that you have a friendship that has endured, developed and blossomed in the ‘motherhood gap’. I love the way that they have created a place for you in their life, and that you have all worked to make this possible. It is a shining example of what is possible, if BOTH parties are prepared to make it happen. “Give and take isn’t just for parents” – spot on. Thanks, Jody x

  14. Jody–thank you for your masterful expression of the mixed emotions women with and without children feel towards one another who are dear friends, and must find the courage to overcome and ideally express to one another in their relationships.

    • Thanks Molly – “masterful” – not sure I’ve got a docking bay for a compliment that large, but I’m very grateful. I’m glad that you took so much from it. Hugs, Jody x

  15. Jody – this piece is so beautifully written and captures this issue so perfectly. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing it. I will share it with my child-less and mother friends. Love to you, Kyle (in Boston)

    • Kyle – thank you – I’m honoured that you wish to share it – and would love to hear how your mother friends find it. I ran it past one of my dear frieds before I posted it, just to be sure I hadn’t got it completely wrong and she loved it! Jody x

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