Being a Mom Has Been Hard on My Friendships

friendsThere are lots of wonderful things that come with motherhood: joy, excitement, a fierce protective instinct you didn't know you had, and the realization that, yes, unconditional love really does exist. Of course, all that doesn't come without some serious sacrifices. Sleep becomes a privilege as opposed to a right. Out goes the freedom to do what you want, when you want. But the most devastating change when you join the mommyhood? You will lose friends. It's true. I speak from experience and this is completely unavoidable.

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To be honest, I didn't see it coming. When you are pregnant, all your girlfriends rally around, gush, and are genuinely excited for you. At this point, the changes in you are mostly physical. Yes, I tired more easily and complained about my ever-swelling boobs way too much, but I was still around. I was still there for them. Though after my son was born, I pulled a Harry Potter and virtually disappeared.

Most of my friends were initially sympathetic, understanding that those first few months of adjustment were hard. But as my son got older, there was this expectation that some things would go back to the way they were. I remember one calling me on a Thursday afternoon asking if I wanted to drive up to Atlantic City the next evening for an overnight trip. She might as well have suggested a visit to Mars -- that was just as likely. I gave an "are you kidding me" snort and told her there was no way I could swing that. In her mind, it was only one night and not even 24 hours. This happened to be at a point when my husband was terrified at the thought of caring for our infant all by himself. She had no idea the logistics involved with me going away.

Even on a smaller scale, my ability to bond with girlfriends had changed. Long dishy phone conversations were a thing of the past. I became terrible at returning calls. Casual emails -- forget about it. And when I did manage to carve out time to meet for coffee or drinks, I was always late. My friends without kids just didn't seem to appreciate the total time and energy suck having kids was. When I tried to explain, it sounded so condescending -- and understandably so. People always talk about the Mommy Wars -- stay at home vs. working, attachment parenting vs. free range. I think the real divide among women is between those with children and those without.

I certainly didn't understand what it is like before I became a mother. And I am not saying that one is better than the other. I know plenty of women who don't want kids and I completely get that decision. I have often said that I wasn't born with the Mommy Gene (aka the innate, lifelong need to be a mom). That didn't change the fact that my closest friends felt slighted and abandoned. And truth of the matter is, I missed them. I missed the old me. It was sad to think we would never be able to re-create that dynamic, but that is the reality of starting a family. It was a choice and I had to figure out how come to terms with it.

The best decision for me was to shift my priorities a bit. I instituted a little Sunday afternoon ritual where I call friends when my son is napping or watching a game with my husband. I try to get in as many uninterrupted calls as possible to catch up. I still don't have time for everyone, but those I do manage to speak with feel appreciated and love reconnecting. I even started doing short girls' trips a couple times a year with my oldest, dearest friends. Needless to say, there are some pals who still have me on their shit list. Oh well. What are you gonna do?

How do you stay connected to friends now that you are a mom?

 

Image via cauchisavona/Flickr

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