It's rare to have a big circle of friends as an adult, so I consider myself to be extremely lucky. I am luckier, still, because I wasn't the first person to have a child in my friend group nor was I the last. I blend in nicely and rarely feel isolated from the rest of the ladies I do life with.
For me, every friend brings something different to the table. My veteran mom friends, whose kids are older than mine by a few years, are my reminders that I'll get through the weeds of raising littles and there is (some) freedom on the other side. My peer-mom friends, whose kids are my kids' age, are there to compare notes with, my new mom friends are reminders of how far I've come. My childless friends, though, they are my saving grace.
Don't get me wrong, I need my mama friends. Those women are the ones who told me "it's okay, you're not a monster" when I struggled with postpartum depression, the ones who helped me decide to take my baby to the hospital when she had an allergic reaction to penicillin, and the ones that texted me every single of the six days I was on hospital bed rest before delivering my second baby six weeks early and then they checked in every single of the six following days when my sweet little girl was in the NICU and I was falling apart. My mama friends understand parts of me that my non-mom friends simply can't. They know the depths of the love, frustration, fear of failure, and exhaustion I feel on a daily basis.
My non-mom friends, they know me as a person. They may not be able to relate to how I felt when my daughter had pneumonia and I spent every night sleeping on her floor because I needed to be able to see her breathe, but they always remind me of the person I was before my two babies entered the world. I never want to go back to life without my sweet daughters, but there are a lot of times I miss who I was. My childless friends have a way of bringing that woman back out, while still supporting and loving the woman I've evolved into - even if they can't always relate to her.
I don't text my childless friends the pictures of rashes, concerning diaper contents, or a wound that I can't decide needs stitches or not. However, I always send them pictures of the big events, the hilarious outfits, and "how did she get so big?" moments and they never fail to respond with love. So, while I don't go to them for the day to day questions about parenthood, they are the only ones I talk to about the big-picture things.
Every mom has her own idea of where she wants her kids to go in life. Some moms love structure and plans, others want their kiddos to be able to run free and explore all the options, it has everything to do with their own personality and their kids' personalities. Which is why I trust my childless friends to help me figure out how I want to raise my girls, because they know my personality best when I'm not stressing over mom-guilt or scared of being shamed.
I've spent many nights with my childless friends brainstorming about how I'll talk to my girls about dating, sex, and the ever-evolving gender/sexual orientation spectrum. We've talked in-depth about my and my husband's differing views when it comes to their educations, my decision on when and how to teach about body autonomy, and even how I plan to handle alcohol and drugs when the time comes. My non-mom friends are helping me plan out how I will raise strong women but offer no advice in surviving diaper rashes or balancing work and family.
The best thing about my non-mom friends is that they never shame me. They love my two girls as if they were their own and truly want what is best for them. Those women are like an extension of my husband (who obviously gets more of a say in how I raise my daughters than they do), they aren't bombarding themselves with mommy boards or driving themselves crazy with conflicting advice articles, they're just there to remind me of who I am as a person and get a clearer picture of what I want for my girls down the road.
Whoever said "takes a village to raise a baby" wasn't wrong. I need the veteran moms, peer moms, new moms, and non-moms to help me turn these two sweet girls into two amazing women. Every one of them plays a part in my and my daughters' lives, and I'd be lost without them.