Being a Parent Is More Fun When Your Friends Are Parents Too

momsFunny thing about pregnancy: Sometimes it almost seems contagious -- like one friend in a group of pals gets pregnant ... and then suddenly everyone is. That's how it was in my group of close friends; many of us, just by chance, had our first babies within a year or two of one another. Pop star Jessica Simpson, whose baby is due this spring, might just get lucky that way, too.

"All my friends are having kids right now and it's kind of like you want to have your babies at the same time," Simpson's best friend (and former personal assistant) Cacee Cobb, who is engaged to former Scrubs star Donald Faison, told People this week. "I can't imagine my kids not growing up with Jessica's kids."

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I have to say, Cobb is onto something. Going through pregnancy, birth, and motherhood around the same time my close friends have has been especially wonderful. Once our babies were born, we could compare notes and support each other as we mastered sometimes-tough stuff like breastfeeding, bond over our exhaustion, swap strategies about sleep schedules (or our children's lack thereof). We could also take walks in the park together while, if we were lucky, our babies napped happily in their strollers.

As our children have grown, I've gotten even closer to these pals -- and so have our kids, who have formed their own great relationships with each other. We meet at the playground. We meet for family dinners. We even go away for weekends together. The kids play (mostly harmoniously). The parents talk and cook and eat. Everyone's happy.

I suppose I've been particularly lucky in that most of these friends share my husband's and my parenting style, with only minor shades of variation, so there's no real friction there. And we're lucky, too, that we've all made sure to keep each other in our lives, even as our kids have grown up and begun attending different elementary schools, bringing us into differing parental social circles. I know those different choices, too, can bring distance. In our case, perhaps remarkably, they have not.

On the down side, scheduling time to get together with our fellow-parent friends without our kids, has been hard -- much more difficult than it is to schedule grown-up, kid-free time with friends who do not have kids. (More people's schedules to juggle, more babysitters to pay ...) And it can be hard to have conversations that are not about our kids, something that's much easier to do with friends who don't have kids. (I really value those non-parent friends even more now, too.)

But when our children are frolicking across a lawn together, and we longtime friends are sitting and talking and laughing and enjoying each other's company, well, I can think of few better feelings in the world.

Have your relationships with your friends been strengthened by having kids around the same time?


Image via yorkd/Flickr

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