Of course you knew your life wouldn’t stay exactly the same after you had children, but you vowed not to let parenthood change you in any important ways—like, say, how you spend time with your friends or what you do for fun. And yet, somehow, things are not precisely what they were. Below, 14 ways your social life changes forever when you have kids.
1. In the early days, you’ll be so desperate for human interaction that you’ll go to a stranger’s house to buy a used Ergo, and then, once you’ve handed over the $20, you’ll stand there hoping she’ll ask you to stay for coffee.
2. As you lie on the couch with an infant sleeping on your chest, afraid to move, you think, “who do I know who’s awake at 3:40 a.m. and wants to text with me?” This person will become your most intimate friend for the next three years.
3. You used to meet up with friends for dinner or a drink in the evening, now you’re an aficionado of all the pastry shops that open at 7 a.m.
4. You’ll say things like “why aren’t there more morning parties?”
5. When your child-free friends tell you about that trendy new cocktail bar with the hot mixologist, you say wild things like “I invented a cocktail, it’s called the Ferber! It’s a bottle of milk with a Xanax in it! Ha! Ha!” and your friends will quietly, slowly back away.
6. You used to dance all night and greet the dawn at the end of a pier, your stilettos dangling in your hand, your head with its messy chignon resting on the shoulder of a handsome man as you watched the sun come up. Now at dawn you shove that same guy and scream “It’s YOUR TURN. Do not make me wake up to wake you up for YOUR TURN” while you claw strands of spittle-flecked hair out of your angry mouth.
7. “Pre-gaming” now means the glass of wine you pour to get through another round of Chutes and Ladders.
8. A “hook up” is what you’re stuck at home waiting for the Sears guy to do, sometime between the hours of 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.. When he arrives at 10:59 p.m. you’re half furious and half riveted by his thrilling intel on what the outside world is like.
9. You used to have long, obsessive talks with your friends about guys, rehashing dates and weird sex stuff and asking them “what do think he meant by that?” Now you say things like, “so if she woke up at 5:40 instead of 6, do you think I should push the morning nap 20 minutes earlier to make up for it? Or try to recapture that time in five-minute increments throughout the day?” And your friends still look a little baffled but, hey, you’ve always been kind of obsessive.
10. Your standards for friends simultaneously drop and get more stringent. Like, you’re not going to drive an hour to have coffee with a so-so friend, because weekend time is precious. But your friend who’s kind of a dick but has a two-year-old, too? You’ll spend four mornings a week with him because who else is going to hang out while you’re doing “commando” potty training.
11. You used to stay out late and think, “eh, I can sleep in.” Now you’re like an animal who’s been shocked one too many times—when 9 p.m. rolls around you start to blink nervously, because a late night is going to mean a brutal morning.
12. Your social life used to mean hanging out with people you liked. Now you have to hang out with people you like—who also aren’t weird about how they parent their kids, like crouching down in front of their 14-month-olds for long, somber talks about conflict management.
13. You’ll make some really good friends. This is an unexpected benefit of motherhood, something no one ever told you about—other parents who make you laugh and have your back.
14. You’ll be surprised at how your social life opens up in a million small ways, from chatting with people in the grocery store to quick talks with other parents at pick up and drop off.
So yeah, your day might draw to a close a little earlier than it did before—and it definitely starts earlier. And sometimes your socializing happens while you’re pushing a stroller or wiping someone’s bottom. But all in all, things are better, and richer: You had friends before, now you have a community.