Not only is being a parent (I'm speaking of parenting young children just 'cause that's what I know) kinda difficult, but it can be kind of difficult to be friends both with parents and, as a parent, with other people, particularly people without kids. Having been on both sides I thought it might help to offer some insights that I've experienced and and also talked with people about. If you're in this situation in any way I'd love to hear your insights too!
In no particular order:
- Plans ALWAYS depend on how the children (and parents) are doing that day. I can't even count how many times we've made plans with someone to do something and because Amia was teething the night before we only got 2 hours of sleep, or one of us was just exhausted from all the energy involved in parenting, or Amia didn't sleep well and is like a little time bomb and we had to cancel. I know that if it's other parents it's all good because they've been there, but honestly I always feel bad doing it to my dear friends without kids because it always feels like I'm bailing on them.
- Being a parent can be really, really, um, REALLY lonely. It's hard to get out of the house, it can be hard to have people over, and it's sometimes/often hard to plan on being able to be with people. This can be because 1) it takes an hour (or more) to go potty, get dressed, get clothes on, pack food, toys/books and changes of clothes, allow for a meltdown (either by the kids or the parents), nurse, go potty again or change diapers/clothes because someone didn't make it in time, 2) you've gotten 4 hours sleep the past 3 nights and the dishes and clothes and toys are piling up such that they resemble certain geographical formations and you can't even think about having visitors over in this mess, 3) the first bullet point above, 4) if the stars line up and you do have visitors you frequently have to leave the room to nurse/change clothes or diapers/put the little one to sleep. I'm not trying to say it's always a Herculean effort to have people over or visit people, but things definitely become a bit more complex and unpredictable with kids. It's not just grabbing your jacket and leaving the house anymore, or simply tidying up a bit. There's a ritual involved and it usually includes varying degrees of control. But I think it's safe to assume that parents, particularly if there's one staying at home with the little one, pretty much always want someone to visit with and talk to.
- Not only is just getting out of the house more complex, but going places is too. We tried going to restaurants for the first couple months and then just kind of gave up. Again, it all depends on the child, but Amia was really sensitive to all the noise so most restaurants would just kind of set her off at some point, letting us know that she needed to leave. Even if she could sit for a while and be chill, eventually she would get bored and need to start walking around. So we ended up having like a good 10 minutes of being able to sit and eat/talk. After that we were on the move until we left. Hence, we just kind of waited till she was like 18 to 24 months to really try restaurants or similar public spaces. That doesn't seem like a long time now, but when you're in the middle of it it seems like FOREVER to be in that situation.