When my oldest son was in nursery school, I met a few moms who I thought I would like to get to know better. Our children seemed to get along well and I thought we might, too. But when I tried to make plans for us to all get together, it didn’t seem to ever work out. The glitch seemed to have something to do with the fact that they were last-time moms, but I couldn’t quite figure out why that presented a problem. Fast forward ten years, when I was still in nursery school with my youngest and I understood what I couldn’t a decade earlier. Here are four reasons why a friendship between first-time and last-time moms might not work out.
First time moms have a lot of time on their hands, especially if they are stay-at-home moms. A day with little ones can loom very long and there are a lot of hours to fill. When my older sons were little, I used to wonder why some moms were always rushing off after nursery school let out. I understood a lot better when my youngest was there. The women I met through my youngest son were some of the nicest and kindest women I have ever known. Over a dozen years later, when I run into one of them, I am still happy to see them and stop for a chat. But back then, we were out of sync. They would all go to lunch and then perhaps the park after school was over and they always tried to include me. But I generally couldn’t join them. With only a few hours until my older boys got home from school, I had to get a lot of things done before the rest of my day, which included homework, religious school, sports and other activities, began.
Although this may not be a deal breaker, sometimes it can be difficult for first-time moms and last-time moms to be friends because they just see things differently. First-time moms are just more intense. I get it because I was the ultimate FTM. The first time around, everything just seems more important and serious and you tend to think your children are more grown up than they are, putting too much expectation on them and forgetting they really are still just children. By the time my last kid arrived on the scene, I understood that if he ate only pasta, came into our room at night for years, or screwed up in school, he would still turn out OK (and possibly even better) than his older siblings, who had the way more intense version of me. The oldest child certainly has the benefit of more excited and energetic parents, while the youngest gets the wiser, if not battered, version. This can get in the way of a friendship because while the first timers fret over every choice, test, tryout and class as if admission to Harvard hangs in the balance, last time parents understand – often not so patiently – that what happens in elementary school stays in elementary school. It can also be difficult for last-time parents to understand they don’t have all the answers for the first-time parents and, even if they may have it in a particular instance, allow first-time parents to make their own choices and mistakes.
Friend Dance Card Is Full:
Although I have made a few wonderful friends through my youngest son, the truth is that most moms tend to make the largest number of friends through their older children because that’s when they are the neediest. By the time your last child rolls around, you don’t have the inclination to start lots of new friendships. There is always room for a special person or two; however, you generally aren’t looking for, nor have the capacity to take on, an entire new social circle as you get older.
It’s Stage Not Age:
When my youngest son was three, there was a little girl in his class whose parents were close in age to my husband and I. We made dinner plans with them and I was excited to be with people who I assumed had more in common with us than the younger parents in the class. However, when we were together, the conversation turned to potty training, sleeping through the night and other pre-school subjects. We had a teenager at that point and wanted to talk about the unholy hell we were starting to go through, or even just adult topics, not the pre-school stuff we already knew how to handle. By the same token, we realized that someone who had a 23-year-old might want to discuss grad school, significant others and the job market, and not unruly teenagers. I realized that stage has more impact on friendships than age and that common parenting situations make for better bonding than merely age.
It’s certainly not impossible for first and last-time parents to be friends; it’s just important to realize there can be a few obstacles which can make it challenging. If you are aware of the hurdles involved, with a little humor, flexibility, tolerance and perseverance, a true friendship can always blossom.