I recently was able to spend some quality time with one of my oldest, dearest friends. One of those friends that has seen you at your absolute best, absolute worst, and has loved you just the same. She’s one of those friends that are worth fighting tooth and nail for, because having her in your life makes it that much better. Our conversation ended up detouring to a place that caught me off guard, as she began to share her concerns about the current state of our long-lasting friendship. Concerns I was unaware of. She shared honestly that lately she’s felt like our friendship hasn’t been a priority to me, and that she felt like I thought I was better than her because I had children and she doesn’t. While these things could not be farther from the truth, it made me sad to think that I was unknowingly making someone I care so deeply for feel this way. The conversation we had weighed heavy on my heart for days, and this wasn’t the only friendship that I’ve had some recent concerns about. So I did what I normally do when I need to share thoughts and feelings about this crazy adventure of motherhood – I talked to my Momtourage (those 40 amazing first time moms I’m privileged to called friends). I wanted to know if this was something a lot moms go through when they’re the first to have kids out of their friends, or if this was just me being inadequate in the friend department.
After having some great conversation and sharing of experiences (many of which influenced what I wrote below), I was able to focus my thoughts and feelings in a much more comprehensible way. And as always after chatting with these women, my heart had settled a little bit knowing I was definitely not alone in this. Whether you’re the first of your friends to start a family, or the friend that feels like you’re losing touch with a new mom – it can be a tricky transition for all parties involved. Below are some general thoughts about motherhood and friendships that I’ve begun to realize on my journey. I definitely don’t have all the answers, and I am far from figuring it all out, but I’m learning. And hopefully my friends, along with yours, can ride out the transition and come out better, closer, and stronger on the other side.
- Becoming a new mom is just what I’ve stated above – a transition. Between trying to figure out how to properly care for this beautiful baby you’ve just brought home, attempting to still be a good partner to your significant other, trying to manage any bit of household chores and maintenance, and simply getting in a shower now and then, its hard to juggle all these new responsibilities while emotional, sleep-deprived, and with a baby on your boob every two hours. Especially during those first few months, try your best to cut your new-mom friend some slack. She’s not trying to be neglectful, she’s just trying to adjust to her new life. And mom – once you get into the swing of things, make it a point to try and catch up on a little lost time. Your friends have lived a lot of life too while you’ve been adjusting to your new role.
- Accept the fact that you may not fully understand each other’s lives at the moment – and that’s OK. No matter what you think you might know about each other’s lives at the moment, the truth is you really can’t know or fully understand. Despite the fact that your friendship is on new ground, make an agreement that even though you don’t always understand, you’re supportive and will do whatever you can to still be there. That includes being happy for your friend in their new adventure.
- Be vocal and open – don’t let things slowly disintegrate without putting up a fight. Don’t let a temporary distance turn into a long-term distance when something could have been said to avoid it. Although you may be at different points in your lives right now, things may change in the future and it could be really painful if you’ve let your friendship slip away when its one you really need later. Speak up and talk about your needs that aren’t being met. Know you’ve done all you can.
- For the new moms – remember to try and talk about things other than your baby. This is one I struggle with. I am no longer teaching, putting a hold on my master’s classes, and my daughter is my full-time job. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a lot to bring to the table other than Tayler’s current sleep schedule and milestones. Try your best. Your friend needs to still identify with those pieces of you before you were a mom. And friends – if you don’t want to know all about baby, don’t ask all about baby. I assure you, any new mom will love to talk about their new bundle.
- Sometimes phone calls are tough. The amount of moments during a day (especially during those first months) that are actually available for a new mom’s undivided attention are few. The odds of catching her at those times, are even fewer. Ignoring phone calls is not desired or intentional. If phone tag seems never ending and you just can’t catch each other, surrender to texts or emails for a little bit. That’s ok! Sometimes a new mom’s time to chat is at a 2 am feeding, so writing you a thoughtful message at that time might be her best bet.
- If all else fails – make a designated time of the week that you promise to devote to each other. Even if its 10 minutes on Sundays before you go to bed. It’s expected. It’s consistent. It’s a time that you promise you’ll be there to catch up on the simple musings of your daily lives.
- There is no scale of importance to stack up what each other have going on in your lives. Whether you’re a new mom, a newlywed, fully career driven, or simply living up the single life – all are important, and all are significant. Yes, some might be a little more time-consuming than others, but all are significant and deserve time and attention. One is no better than the other. Sometimes these different life paths at different times are hard to relate to, but often they will come full circle and you’ll be on the same page again eventually. Ride it out.
- You both might feel left out at times. Expect it, accept it, and know its not hurtful or intentional. Momma – you might miss some girls nights out, a bachelorette party, or the simple freedom to meet up for happy hour on a whim. Friend – you might feel left out of this new life or new friendships she’s taken up with other moms. Its OK. Just make sure the communication lines stay open, do your best, and know that this too shall pass.
- Give it time. I’m not quite there yet, but from what I hear from my knowledgeable friends with older babies – a new mom’s identity stabilizes a bit around the one year mark and you really find your stride. Becoming a new mom can be a shock to your identity. The priority you used to place on different pieces of your old identity sometimes shift and temporarily go in limbo. Give her time to re-adjust and get back those pieces of her that aren’t solely being a mom. She has them, I assure you, just give her time.
- Not all moms adjust at the same pace. If you have one mom friend that is able to keep up and maintain your friendship with ease and another that seems temporarily non-existent, it doesn’t necessarily correlate to the amount of care they have for you. Every mom is different with different circumstances. Be patient – she’ll get there!
- Sometimes these life changes will show you who is meant to continue on in your life and who is meant to move on in their own direction. The truest of friends are the ones who will try to understand no matter what, will know that your friendship thrives despite how often you are able to chat at the moment, and will fight for your friendship if things get rocky. Recognize those friends, appreciate them, and hold on to them with all your might.