We are having a baby, but all of our friends’ kids are grown
Q: Just after my wife’s 42nd birthday, we were blessed with a daughter. We are thrilled – we’d given up any hope of getting pregnant. Our problem is that all of our friends’ children are much older – and our friends are no longer in “baby mode” when it comes to entertaining or spending time together. What’s our best option for enjoying our own parenthood, while keeping our friends in our lives?
A: One of my vivid memories from adolescence is helping my mother decorate our dining room for a baby shower for one of her good friends. Elsie and her husband had sons in their late teens when she visited a physician with concerns about her health. As it turned out, she didn’t have an illness. Instead, she was a pregnant empty-nester! What options do you have when you are at a different stage in the family life cycle than your friends?
What time is it on your social clock? We hear so much about our biological clocks, but little about our social clocks. Every culture runs on a social clock that determines when life events are “supposed” to occur. In the early 1900s, people tended to get married at later ages than in the 1950s. Now the pendulum is swinging toward marrying at later ages again. Social clocks tell us whether we are in synch with our peers.
Make it win-win when it comes to entertaining. Since your friends are out of “baby mode,” it feels as if you are out-of-synch. Actually this can work to your benefit. Can you hire their preteen to watch over your baby when you entertain them at your home? Their child earns money and gains valuable child-care experience under your supervision; your friends will have a relaxing evening without the need to worry about supervising their “tween.”
Open yourselves to new friendships. I have friends that first met me as “Kaiti’s mom” or as “Erin’s mom.” God has blessed your daughter with talents that you haven’t yet discovered and you will be sitting side-by-side at events with parents of children with similar talents. Reach out and make friends when that happens. Whatever the ages of the other parents, you will find that you will have quite a bit in common.
The Jan/Feb Parenting Journey column contained an error regarding Dr. McGreal’s family story. Her grandmother was not adopted and raised by her mother’s best friend, but was informally cared for by her. That friend eventually placed her in an orphanage. The “right family” where she acquired “just the right name” was the Allen family. FAITH regrets the error.