This morning, I had my first face-to-face meeting with a marketing consultant who is quickly becoming a new friend. In the blink of an eye, as often happens with women, the conversation turned away from business and right to our personal lives. She’s not married and doesn’t have kids; I have both a husband and a little one. In just the hour or so that we chatted, laughed and swapped stories, I confirmed a suspicion that I’ve had for years: married mamas need to become better friends to our single gal pals.
No way, you declare. You have tons of friends who don’t have kids and you’ve never noticed anything amiss. In fact, you just had dinner with your best friend from second grade, who's single, and it was awesome. Well, guess what, she probably doesn’t agree. Here’s why:
We talk about our kids too much.
Hold on; let me rephrase that. It’s not that we talk about our kids too much, it’s that we talk about everything in our lives too much. Kids, husbands, hand foot and mouth disease, in-laws, vacations, ingrown toenails, pre-school tuition bills, baby weight; the list goes on and on. I can guarantee that during your last girls' night out with moms and non-moms, a significant chunk of the chatter revolved around marriage or motherhood. The simple truth? We often go on and on about ourselves and don’t treat our single girlfriends like their triumphs and tribulations are as important as ours.
We say "We" instead of "I."
Although married women might not notice that we’ve misplaced the word “I” in our vocabularies, single friends do. Are you a “We” offender? Let’s find out. Pretend that you and I are out at lunch and I asked you what you did this past weekend. If your answer sounds something like this: “We went shoe shopping” or “We had sushi on Friday,” you are guilty of Plural Pronoun Over-Usage (a.k.a. PPOU). Although PPOU might not be a big deal to other married women (although I have to admit I find it irritating), using the word "we" too frequently subtly sends the message that you are part of a couple and that your unwedded friends are not.
We pressure our single friends to get married.
Yes, married ladies, most of us are guilty of repeatedly asking our single friends if they’re seeing someone. Even moms like me, who don’t want all of our pals to be married (BOR-ING!). You’re not going to believe this, but minutes after I touched upon this very subject with my new buddy this morning, I mentioned that I recently participated in an online video chat on Huffington Post with Ahmed Shihab-Eldin. In an instant, I had a flash of brilliance; “She’s single, he might be single, why don’t I find a way to introduce them?”
Please tell me: why would I think it's my place to introduce a person I barely know to a stranger for the sole purpose of holy matrimony?
What’s especially ironic about nudging our friends toward the wedding canopy is that most of the moms I know, especially those of us with young kids, are not exactly having the time of our lives these days. In fact, let’s be honest, many of us are feeling tired, frumpy, lumpy, lonely, frustrated, and confused about how we ended up with vomit stains on our clothes.
I can't figure out why we're constantly asking our friends if they want to join us in an experience that does not exactly look, sound, or smell like a fairy tale. Is it because misery loves company or are we still convinced, even after confronting the challenges of lifelong partnerships, that settling down with someone special will bring them (and us) the ultimate happiness? Are we jealous of their freedom, independence and professional successes? Or, and I hate to even mention it, are we trying to convey to our female friends that we've achieved the ultimate badge of womanhood because we got married and had a family?
Although our words and actions may be sending the wrong message, one thing is for sure: married mamas need friends – single, married, old and new. We need women in our lives who love us, support us, critique us and stand by us no matter how self-absorbed we may act sometimes. Now that I'm aware of how I may be making single women feel, I'll try to be a better friend. Because my pals, regardless of their marital status, totally deserve it.