Gap Widens Between Parents Singles
Published: October 11, 2006
The other day my husband received a phone call from a co-worker. He chatted to him for a bit, and then the strangest thing happened – he asked us to join him and his girlfriend for a drink at the local pub (insert uncomfortable pause here).
We were both a little confused for a moment at the question that sounded as foreign as a long, forgotten language. A language that was reminiscent of our pre-children life. Those years that we could just pop out for a drink with a friend after work and enjoy a leisurely, witty conversation that actually lasted longer than 30 seconds without interruption of a spill, scream or interjection of “look what I can do”.
In our post-children world, the language is very different. When we speak of social outings we use words like “play-date”, “playground” and “coffee”. There is even the occasional “special evening” planned. But in our new language, going out and “having a drink” is just not part of our repertoire anymore.
And it’s the same with married couples who don’t have children. However, we are more similar to the married couple than to the single people. I equate it to being in the same Solar System with them, but just on two very different planets.
For instance, this past summer my husband asked me if I would be willing to attend a married coworker’s barbeque in Vancouver with the children. My first thought was that it might be too long a car ride for the children, but I was reassured by my husband that might be good for us to get out and socialize with some adults. So I agreed to the barbeque suggestion and we headed out on Saturday night for the long drive in to Vancouver.
Upon arriving to the home in Vancouver after 45 minutes of driving, we all got out (some already cranky from the ride in) to discover a home that was less than 800 square feet with no backyard to play in. And as we climbed the stairs that challenged even the greatest of mountain climbers– we discovered an even greater challenge – bulldogs.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love dogs, but these dogs were big and powerful and as they leapt out of the door to greet us, they knocked my son down. I immediately picked my son up and held him in my arms (all 40 lbs of him) while the dogs jumped up and down on me.
We were then ushered through the house to the backyard to meet the guests. The guests were comprised of only two other men. And worse yet – the table out on the small deck was surrounded by wasps - a situation that is a death trap for me. If you have read my column before – I have a terrible allergic reaction to wasps. So I backed up inside the house again with the children to bravely face the dogs, and a home that was not child or baby proofed. A myriad of land mines waiting to be detonated.
My husband meanwhile, stood on the deck with the wasps and tried to talk with the other men. The conversation however, revolved around the lifestyle of the single and/or childless man. A lifestyle my husband hasn’t been familiar with for many years.
All four men then decided that it was time to come in to watch the wrestling match on pay per view out of Las Vegas. “It can be really bloody sometimes”, my hostess said laughing.
It was apparent that eating wasn’t the priority on anyone’s mind (other than my son’s) who was starving. We had luckily packed a sandwich in our backpack for him “just in case”. So as we sat there waiting for what would probably be the worst show a child could watch – we announced that it was time to go.
Yes, they were bewildered at why we would have to leave so early. I explained that when you have children, your lifestyle changes with it. I told them that it was in our children’s best interest if we left. And our hostess smiled one of those smiles that said she heard the words, but did not understand entirely the meaning.
The fact is, with single and childless couples, we try to socialize and talk on various topics but it’s as if there is a pink elephant in the room and nobody wants to address it. The pink elephant is us.
Their eyes glaze over when we talk about our baby finally eating solids for the first time, and our eyes glaze over when they speak of the newest and hippest club downtown. But it’s ok. It’s supposed to be that way. People are people and if they are true friends and really want to be an integral part of your family’s life, then you both will work together on overcoming that language, and social barrier.
And that drink we were invited to have, is in fact happening. It’s just happening over here at the house, and instead of alcohol for me, it’s decaffe coffee - with the occasional “look at me” thrown in for good measure.