Friendship after baby is a very mixed bag, but if we want to keep our friends, then mamas it's time to be better friends ourselves!
With my mom friends, we all kind of get that all plans are tentative until confirmed. Kids get sick, they stay up too late, they nap off-schedule, and on and on. I have had friends show up an hour late for playdates without batting an eye because, hey, that's motherhood. But with our child-free friends, that stuff doesn't fly.
If the friendship matters, keep the dates you set. Make them so you have a sitter and, unless you're deathly ill, show up. Because your friends will get tired of covering for you and they will find new friends. Not because they're mean, but just because they want friends they can count on.
We can whine all we want about friends without kids not getting it -- and in many cases they don't -- but when push comes to shove, the onus is on us.
Suddenly, the things you thought were important -- movies, late nights chatting, endless conversations about men -- are not anymore. And when you're way ahead of your friends in terms of childbearing, it makes it even harder. At my current age, many of my friends are just starting on the journey I started nearly five years ago and honestly? It was really, really lonely at times.
I have watched with a small degree of sadness as most of my childless ("child-free") friends drifted to the wayside. It isn't that I disliked them or thought they were bad, but our lives made it increasingly hard to relate to one another.
This isn't to say that all such endings were amicable. Some were uglier than others and involved a certain amount of judgement and cruelty and misunderstanding on both ends.
On the other hand, my closest friend doesn't have children and we're still as close as ever. The reason it works is empathy and caring. She asks me about the kids, but lets me be the "expert" and doesn't try to tell me how to parent. I try to do the same for her. She doesn't push me to feel one thing or another because she feels that is how mothers "should" feel.
And I appreciate it. Most importantly, we both care a lot about one another.
Because of all the changes that happen after motherhood, this one is the biggest. Pregnancy and early motherhood meant prioritizing my life. Prior to having children, I had a number of "fringe friends." These were the people I hung out with because they were fun or they did stuff I liked or we had things in common, but when it came down to it, they weren't the ones I wanted in my wedding.
Parenthood weeds the men from the boys, so to speak. My close friendships have become infinitely closer, but the superfluous ones fell by the wayside, some with some sadness and some without.
Many people say that the childless and the child-saddled cannot be friends, but I don't think that's true. It's just a matter of showing up. Your mama friends may understand the constant juggling, but your child-free friends don't. It's simple: if they matter, keep your dates with them. No matter what. If they don't, let them go and make new friends who matter.
Having children isn't an excuse to treat our friends like crap. Your world may revolve around Junior, but your friend's world doesn't. If she matters, then keep that dinner date come hell or high water and only cancel if you're running a fever.
On the other hand, a good friend will cut you some slack, too. Not always, of course. But if a friend doesn't understand that your "yes" to her (large, well-attended) birthday party is dependent on finding good babysitting and both children being healthy, then she may not be the kind of friend you want to have anyway.
It's a balance. A a little bit of work on both sides, but it can be done.
How do you keep your friendships strong?
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