I was flicking through my phone contacts recently and noticed that in recent times quite a few of them have been conspicuous by their absence. I am about to attempt to suggest that this is a trend that new parents experience rather than the far more crushing reality that my own friends are simply disowning me. When was the last time you saw that colleague that you used to meet for post work drinks on a Friday, or that couple that you would have lunch with every now and then. The brutal truth is that they’ve ditched you. They tried to be pleased for you and show an interest in your parental prattle but it became too much for them and they decided to sever all ties. They did this of course in a very discrete way and if you bumped into them in the street they would probably do their best to show an interest in little Jonny and perhaps even suggest “catching up soon”. If someone suggests “catching up soon” this in fact means that they are gently telling you to keep your stories about burping, sleeping, teething, tantruming, toilet training, and certainly breast feeding to yourself.
Accepting that offer of a drink or brunch in your new life as a unpaid butler parent is not easy and comes with a host of baby barriers that make it all too easy to say no. Peeling yourself from the loving embrace of the sofa, putting on your glad rags and your party face after a day of being sicked on and screamed at has its challenges. Combining a day of parenting with a thirty something hangover is not an appealing option. Holding down your end of a decent conversation after spending your day talking ga-ga and reading Spot the Dog books is an uphill struggle. Two hours in a dark cinema after several sleepless nights is an invitation to expose your snoring habit to a room full of popcorn munching strangers. So after declining a few offers that would normally be snapped up the peripheral friend takes his/her business elsewhere and you can’t really blame them, don’t worry peripheral friends this is an observation rather than a bitter rant.
The peripheral friend role is happily snapped up by peripheral parent friends, eager to have someone to bore relate to with tales of burping, sleeping, teething, tantruming, toilet training and breast feeding. These friends know they can engage in parental prattle without fear of reprisal; there is an unspoken etiquette that both parties can bore one another relentlessly and that no one party can dominate proceedings. As much as I tried to convince myself that I wouldn’t become ‘one of those parents’ that only talked about their children, it seems to have crept up on me and I hold my hands up and admit to being ‘one of them’. It is after all what I know about, it’s what I do day in day out, I don’t know about the latest poncy cocktail bar (do you realise how many nappies I could buy for the cost of an Old Fashioned!) or hip eatery; I know babies and all that they encompass and I’m okay with that.