Friday, November 18, 2011

Mujhse fraandship karoge?


A funny thing happens to your friendship ecosystem when you have a baby. There is a huge chemical shift, almost creating an imbalance of sorts, like electrons running amok in an sp2 orbital (those of you who don’t get science, look it up). Or read this.

 As if marriage wasn’t bad enough for friendship. Various friendship tests had to be passed in ours (with my friends mostly, since I am the one who has more history with friends) and he had to be voted either ‘really nice’ or ‘really fun’. Somehow, the husband managed one or both. As for his, the friends were as old as the last clubbing night, and all you had to do was cheer Man U , hug like you’re long-lost buddies who’ve met after years, think costume parties are cool and you passed muster.

For the first two years in our marriage, we were doing fine, and had a roaring social life, despite the disparity in our friends (mine did books, his did shots).

And then the baby happened. Things changed.

Single women suddenly flew off the radar (there are exceptions and you know who you are). I don’t know if it was because we were no longer set-up potential, i.e. we were more likely to know married people with babies, and not necessarily single men so what was the point? Or whether we were in-your-face reminders of how they would like their life to be extrapolated. Or we drew attention to their tick-tock biological clock? Or that they were so used to not having conversation that it was suddenly too tedious? (when you have a baby, you tend to go to places where you can be heard). Or that no matter how hard you tried, they always slotted you as smug-married?

The married-with-no-kids were too busy trying to get pregnant, or trying not to. Or pretending they had the cooler life and didn’t really care about their clocks.

Single men took a deeper interest in you. (Get it, biaatches? If only you had stuck around!). They wonder if this would be their life if they had met women who were interested in their wombs. Also, a child is good arm candy for a single guy.  Good with kids = good marriage potential, and so his equity in the market soars up. I have had so many single guys taking to my baby that I am seriously considering them for baby-sitting on a rainy day. And unlike single women, single men are not ashamed to acknowledge their clock.

New male friends are not welcome by the husband, unless they are spectacularly ugly, really short, love Man U or are gaming buffs. Gay best friend is no longer an option as the husband is homophobic.

You almost wonder. Where have all our friends gone?

And then you realise, you have a bunch of new ones. The married-with-kids. The We- are-as-fucked-as-you are couples. These sooner or later gravitated towards you, whatever your history with them. 

Now this is where the power struggle among couples begins.

Two men. Two women. Plenty of dynamics.

You like him, she doesn’t like you. Or you like her, he doesn’t like him.  Or he likes him, but he doesn’t like her. Or you both like them equally, but the babies don’t get along. Or you like them both and the babies like each other, but they live in a different city.

There are other types:
  • Friends who are so working so hard on weekdays that they just want to sack on weekends. Or get trashed with other singletons (somehow a baby seems to demand a code of conduct most people are not willing to put work into)
  • Friends who are looking for that job with the perfect work-life balance.  I read somewhere that it means both your work and your life are equally fucked.
  • Friends who are always "wanting to ask you over", but don’t, for some strange reason.
  • Friends who say, drop in anytime, but never say when.
  • Friends who forget to reply to emails or messages or (sic!) wall posts. Or ask for a raincheck!

I don’t want to get into the hothouse for friends, although there was a time when I met random people every Friday and pretended that they were my best friends. I notice what while people are all very effusive when they meet you, how many homes have you been invited to in the last month? Okay, three months? I mean really invited, not told to ‘drop in anytime’?

I don’t much care about birthdays or anniversaries, but if you don’t hear from me in a month, call /email/ do something. That’s what friends are for. Not random bumping and then saying, “Oh, I was just thinking of you!” No, you were so not. I know a bad lie when I hear one.

So I have decided. I need new friends, because I am tired of working on the old ones and their issues. Applications are invited.

Here is the deal: You should be funny. And compassionate. It is a very tough combination, but I am worth it. Also, you should be willing to do the work.  At least some of it. Which means making plans. Calling us over.  Showing up when we invite you. Thinking weekend getaways. Baby-friendly trips. Lunches. Dinners. Drinks. Games. Whatever you can manage. It doesn’t matter if you are single or married. Baby or no baby. Old or young. Proactive is the key word. Creative is even better.

Okay, here’s a sales pitch. I am good with food. The husband is a great bartender. We have a gorgeous baby and two cats. We are both funny (in different ways). But we have finally decided that we will do the work only to those who do unto us. All you have to do is earn it.

15 comments:

  1. I hope you find your kinda friends real soon :)

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  2. Oh, also.. How do you react when someone reads such a post, figures its them you're referring to and asks you about it?
    I mean, your old friends will obviously go all, 'Oh, I am here only for you na, whenever you want to hang out!' No?

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  3. Well, better late than never.But they should make the move now.

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  4. Oh ya. Single men get very interested in you. Who would've thunk!
    And I can get interested back in them...cos I feel so safe!

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  5. Ok, heres a timeline from a guy who has been through the phases.

    First you find that all the people who you were so friendly with no longer identify with you since now its all about diaper sizes and whats good for the baby digestion. You may think the singles dig you, but trust me, one whiff of baby food (which does tend to hang around you at this stage) in a clinch and the guy wonders if he may not be making a mistake.

    Then comes the preoccupation stage, where the day is spent running around behind the little one who seems to be on speed and wearing invisible roller skates.

    then comes the phase where the tots first go to school so you get a quick few deep breaths and forty winks.

    then comes the phase where you start re discovering your friends, the same ones you left behind since now the little ones are in school a major part of the day.

    Then comes the phase where the little ones are now teenagers and they dont need you clinging onto them anymore and say, "Get get a life" if you wish to spend a Saturday night with them.

    Thats when you realize that , your friends are the ones who were there all along, they had just worn an invisibility cloak being the good friends they were.

    Its a lovely roller coaster, enjoy it, the ride will be over sooner than you know it.

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  6. I don't do diaper sizes.
    My baby never had baby food. He had tsatziki. Read my mommy blog for the gory details.
    And the single men always show up.
    And I still think having a baby is a good time to reinvent your friends. May the real ones stay, but may new ones make history with you too.

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  7. love the post... so true. and I have made some awesome friends post my baby and theirs :D and its lovely. we have gone thru baby fights but kids fight and make up very soon as long as adults dont get in their way. as far as planning and stuff goes, its both ways but there are times when either party can't make it for the do, but there is always a next time. reinventing or finding new friends is great

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  8. lol! So turue..oh yeah, we have sent out "fraindship us" applications lately too and have even resorted to smiling at "prospective Frainds"at the pre-natal class we attend.. I would have "fraindhipped" you if i lived in your city :-) Good luck!

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  9. FYI, I've wanted to be your friend since I first read your column in HT which is so creepy but also so true.
    I just happened to watch an episode of SATC about the apparent cold war between married people and singletons and it was hilarious because when you look at it from an unbiased perspective its more like a "is the grass greener on the other side?" kinda situation. We are all too engaged in trying to figure out the inevitable shift of paradigms.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Shraddha, just saw this, coz I think I have been neglecting this blog. Will make sure I come here more often. Thank you so much for writing. And we are friends already, no? Just friends who haven't met. Let's correct that too.

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  10. Honestly speaking, I managed to make more friends after I had a baby than before it. I don't know what that says about me, but I'm so not complaining :)

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  11. Replies
    1. I didn't. I just stopped writing for free:)

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  12. aah parenthood, that deadliest of hoods. lost many a good friend to its viles, i must say. sudden cancellations, no-shows, hell my friend once showed up for a toke with his baby straped to his chest. it may seem like non-parents don't try to understand but if i wanted to plan my life around a screaming brat, i'd still be seeing my ex. you sound like you've got things under control though; good luck to you. i guess the friends that are worth holding on to will stay either way.

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  13. Hi Lalita
    I had read your article published in 19th May Crest edition. I really loved it and connected to all the emotions you wrote about. Out of curiosity I opened your blog. Im glad I did because I understand now that there are quite a few women who feel the same way as I do.

    Keep it going and Im sure Ill keep reading more of your interesting aricles!!!

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