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5 Reasons to Cherish Your Child-Free Friends

Photograph by Twenty20

When I became a mom in 2009, I read a lot of articles about how to make mom friends. At the time, it seemed a given that I would meet other moms at all of the places moms hang out with kids. But I didn't read very much about making friends—or maintaining friendships—with child-free women. At 42, most of my friends were either child-free or had kids who were practically grown, and I was shocked that my new mom status cost me a few of those friendships.

Friends who didn't like kids or didn't have the patience to accommodate my new schedule and exhausted life faded away into the sunset. But I continue to treasure the child-free friends who have stayed in my life and enjoy making new friends, whether they're parents or not.

We all need at least one person who keeps us sane in a world of chicken nuggets and "Sesame Street," right? Here are some great reasons to have child-free friends:

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1. They'll remind you of who you used to be.

On days when I feel like I don't even resemble the woman I used to be, I schedule a lunch date with a child-free friend and feel refreshed.

I'll always be a mom, but I won't always have kids underfoot or something sticky on my jeans (unless I put it there myself). My friends who don't have kids are a touchstone to those seemingly long ago days when I got more sleep and had more time. On days when I feel like I don't even resemble the woman I used to be, I schedule a lunch date with a child-free friend and feel refreshed.

2. You don't have to talk about your children if you don't want to.

Yes, when I first had my oldest son I was completely immersed in all things motherhood. (Who am I kidding, I pretty much still am—it's part of the job.) But you know what? There's more to me than this mom gig and sometimes it's nice to talk about something other than my kids. That's hard to do with a mom friend—one or both of us will inevitably bring up our kids. So my child-free friends give me the freedom to have a child-free conversation, if I want it.

3. They'll keep you updated on what's going on in the world.

I admit it: I'm not as up-to-date on current events as I used to be. It's hard when I rarely have time to read the news and can't turn on the TV until after 8 p.m. I count on my child-free friends to catch me up on the recent election, tell me what hot new cable series I should watch and give me the run down on the new Italian restaurant down the street. In a kid-centered life, it's nice to know what's going on outside my door.

4. Sometimes you need a boost from a child-free friend.

I love my mom friends and I rely on their wisdom and support, but sometimes I just want to vent to someone who isn't going to say, "Me, too!" My child-free friends are great about making me feel good about my often chaotic life. On a day when it feels like I'm juggling a dozen balls and dropping half of them, it's wonderful to have a someone hand me a glass of wine and say, "I don't know how you do it."

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5. They can be awesome aunts to your kids.

I have a couple of amazing child-free friends who remember my kids' birthdays, buy them gifts for no reason, offer to babysit and have time for my boys that my mom friends just don't have because they have kids of their own. I remember those days of being the child-free friend and happily nurturing other people's children because I had the time (and money) to do so. My child-free friends not only enrich my life, but they are there for my children, too. And that makes them even better than friends—it makes them family.

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