It is next to impossible to comprehend how becoming a parent changes your life. I never dreamed how it would enrich my relationship with my mom. It tested and ultimately affirmed my relationship with my husband. I was surprised how it would change my friendships. Adding babies into friendships can test the bond, especially when one friend has babies and one does not. Whether it is by choice or chance, this dynamic is often a hard one to weather. Girlfriends know more about you than you probably care to admit. They laugh through the fun with you, cry through the hardships with you and celebrate the changes with you.
There is, potentially, no bigger change in life than a baby.
I was going to be the awe-inspiring mom that could work out daily (giggles), climb the corporate ladder, be a present wife and an available friend. Ladies, you will exhaust yourself trying. Sure, you can make valiant attempts and probably get close, but down in the trenches, thrown into sleepless nights, sore nipples and the sheer terror of screwing it all up, you know the change is real. The moment could be when you’re sobbing because you feel like you are needed in 13 places simultaneously. It could be the middle of the day moment when you are still in gross pajamas and the sweet baby had a rough morning. There is no one to call. You sink to the floor to snuggle with the dog because he warms your heart and people are, at that moment, over-rated.
That is where I landed. I was in the dog snuggling moment when I realized that for my sanity and purpose, I had to stop. I had to stop trying to be everything…including the fun-loving friend I once was. I had to admit that, at least for a time, things would be different. My friends were still on the “free as a bird” schedule and I had, all at once, jumped on a path headed in a completely opposite direction. I never expected them to walk the same path with me, but I did hope for an occasional visit.
I felt lonely, isolated and if I am being honest, angry.
Conversations that should lift my drained spirits were missing. There was no one reaching out to pull me back in. This new baby was a change that we, as friends, had never embarked on. It was so big and separated us so much, that we lost the middle ground. I wasn’t available to do late dinners or weekend trips and she wasn’t ready to be the friend of a friend with a kid. So through no one’s fault — only circumstances — the friendship faded. Becoming a mother changes your priorities, your perspective and your heart. It is crazy wonderful, but it can lead to differences with people, even friends.
So, if you are a momma who finds yourself minus a few friends, I feel like there are a few things you need to hear:
1. If a friend tells you your life shouldn’t change when baby arrives, they are not providing the support you need and may not exemplify the friendship you need.
Friends will disagree. At the end of the day, however, they should support you. They should be there. You can always do a late dinner occasionally, but a friend will be there to hang in the living room with a glass of wine and a baby monitor when late dinner plans just don’t work out. You deserve to have support in your choice to be a mother. Stand firm in that. If someone in your life isn’t affirming you as a momma, they aren’t affirming you as a person.
2. It is perfectly acceptable for friendships to be seasonal. It doesn’t make that time any less precious.
Hear me out here. I don’t mean friends can come and go in your life at their convenience. I mean that friends can be present for a season of your life. Often they are placed there to pull you through a struggle or be a light friend for a fun season. It doesn’t mean it won’t hurt if they leave your life for one reason or another, but the memories created don’t vanish. I have childhood friends, college friends, fun-loving 20-something friends and now incredible momma friends. Some have remained and others haven’t, but the length of the friendship doesn’t set the value of the memories made and the lessons learned.
Your happiness is important. Choosing to have a family and be responsible for tiny humans makes you happy. You should have friends that support you in that decision. If they don’t, well, that is all right. Their season in your life may be at an end or minimally, on hiatus. You deserve to surround yourself with people who empower you as a person and as a mother.