For many years, I was the odd girl out. Sitting around with a group of friends, I would nod politely as they talked about pregnancy. Then diapers. And terrible twos. And preschools. I would smile sympathetically as they talked about how much they missed sleep. And privacy. And the ability to take off for a weekend getaway without packing the minivan with baby paraphernalia. And, again and again, I would vow not to be “that mom” if I ever ended up being a mom at all.
And then I did. One day, I was the odd girl out, and the next day, I was part of the club. Acquaintances that I hadn’t spoken to in months wanted to set up playdates. Friends of friends wanted to talk about daycare and car seats. To be honest, I found it all very loud and startling.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my mama friends. They are the ones I call if I want someone to say, “oh, all kids do that.” Because that is always, always what they say.
But some of the best parenting advice I’ve gotten has been from my friends who aren’t parents. As I mentioned before, there aren’t many of them. Two, really. Two smart, thoughtful friends who know me just about as well as anybody. Two gracious friends who bear with me as I ramble on and on about my daughter. Inevitably, I have become “that mom” as so much of my life revolves around her now.
They listen. And they give really, really good advice. Such good advice that when I’m thinking about how to approach a particular issue with my daughter, I often make a mental note to ask them for their perspective.
I’ve always thought this was a little weird. But I’ve kept on doing it because it worked. This week I got to spend a few hours chatting with one of those smart, thoughtful friends. And she gave me some insight.
“Maybe,” she suggested, “it’s because we understand how it feels to be outliers.”
The more I thought about this, the more it made sense. My parenting experience feels non-traditional in so many ways. I am a single, transracial adoptive mom. I met my daughter when she was already four. In the big world of parenting, this makes me a tiny subset of a subset of a subset. An outlier, indeed.
Swimming in the vast sea of parents, these women who are not moms know how it feels to be different. To be a subset of a subset. To have their families questioned because other people view them as non-traditional.
Sometimes I need a break from people trying to normalize my experience. In many ways, my family is not normal. It’s just not. I’m ok with that.
And so I’ll keep asking for parenting advice from my friends who are not parents. Because they are smart. And thoughtful. And they understand how it feels to be outliers.
How about you? Did you become “that mom” or “that dad” as soon as you had a child? Do you ask for parenting advice from your friends who aren’t parents? Leave me a comment and let me know!