x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

With change of social status comes a change of social circle

Now, with a baby on the way, I am surrounding myself with friends who are happy to chat about kids.

Once upon a time, I was a single gal who liked to hang out with single pals. No, let me rephrase; I preferred to hang out with the "singletons", a well-loved term I was introduced to by Helen Fielding in her first Bridget Jones book.

It made sense: it was natural to seek out like-minded individuals, all of whom shared a similar social status and all of whom found our "other" friends, those who had paired themselves off into couples, a little changed. Suddenly, their evenings out meant trying out new restaurants, which required prior reservations for parties of an even number. No spontaneous nights out to the cafe around the corner; couples have a routine they like to abide by, with their other couple friends, and it was no fun for a fifth-wheel singleton.

There was something too uncomfortable about sitting down to those even-numbered dinners with couples holding hands, gazing at one another, completing one another's sentences. My best friend and I, also single, used to opt out of those dinners (where we'd inevitably get paired together).

Then, it happened. I changed my social status and left my single days behind. And suddenly, I began to crave the company of other couples as well.

It wasn't as pronounced a need when we were dating, or buried in the mire of wedding planning. But after Mr T and I settled down into married life and began figuring out what the rhythm of our days would entail, it became clear that more couples were needed in our lives.

Dinners out at the newest restaurant in town began to take on a much more attractive appeal. It provided a venue with the perfect atmosphere for conversation, and hanging out with other couples meant Mr T and I do things together, after being apart on a work day, instead of splitting up to see our respective friends. The convenience of having the same friends, who happen to be couples as well, knew no bounds. We shared wedding memories, or reflected back on how much more we were looking forward to the honeymoon than the actual wedding. We divulged exactly where we bought all our furniture from, and got the number of an excellent carpenter. We described travel plans. We joked about our spouses' offensive habits.

Now, pregnant and intimidated at the imminent changes that are going to affect our rhythm as a family of two, Mr T and I have been scrambling to add a new category of friends to our roster: friends with kids.

Which of these restaurants we like to frequent allow babies and toddlers in high chairs to be part of a dinner reservation? Which have enough room between the tables to navigate a pushchair? And how do parents manage to maintain some semblance of a social life with a baby but without a babysitter?

These are the conversation topics circulating around our recent dinner reservations, which more often than not include new parents and their offspring. We are by no means shutting out our single friends or those couples who are enjoying still their status as a family of two, but do they really want to be subjected to a rambling conversation on the merits of a breast pump in a working mother's life, or exactly when to introduce solid foods? I think not.

artslife@thenational.ae