I only have a handful of girlfriends, and it seems they’re all having babies and abandoning me for play dates with women they have more in common with. You know, women who associate “Baby” with “Einstein” and whose idea of shopping is redeeming 20% off coupons at Babies R Us.
I’m a mother, too, but since my kid is an adult–and he’s my step– his accomplishments, it seems aren’t worthy of the same celebration as their ability to conceive. Yet the death of my dog or the graduation of my son from boot camp barely registered an “I’m sorry” or a “congratulations” from any of these women.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m genuinely happy for them. I follow their guidance on the best times to call or visit. I even drive to them so they don’t have to pack the kid and half the house up for an outing. One lady in particular won’t take her child more than five miles from the house, so I drive 45 minutes one way to visit. But these friendships are beginning to feel about as one-sided as most paper from your standard copy machine.
How do I get these friends to see life from my side of this equation? Or should I just stop being a baby myself and go make some new friends? I don’t want to totally abandon my new Mommy friends, I just don’t know where our friendship fits into their new lives. And honestly, I’m probably more than a little bit jealous.
Missing my girls
Oh I wish I had better news for you. Alas, I don’t, at least until your girls come back from their journey to Planet Parenthood, a place where the scintillating conversation centers around whether they choose to Ferberize and the color of baby’s stool. I’m being facetious of course, but the fact is your girlfriends are experiencing one of the most profound, life changing and beautiful events around. Unfortunately (and I can say this having been on both sides of it), it’s also annoying, irritating and a little over the top for those not in the toddler trenches. And that, my friend, would be you. Most of your answers are right here in your letter but let me break it down and tell you what I would do.
GIVE THEM SPACE: Correct me if I’m wrong and forgive me if I overstep, but I hear quite a few things in your letter; jealously, remorse, sadness, fear to name a few. That’s a lot to deal with and what makes this difficult is there’s no way to say this to your friends without sounding like a selfish witch. Of course, you and I, who are not huffing fumes from baby poop 24 and 7 know that’s not what’s really going on here; it’s about the nature of friendship, which is give and take. Right now, they’re so wrapped up in all things baby, they’re doing all the taking but even more tragically, can’t see that. So the only thing you can do is give those who’ve recently given birth, a wide berth until they regain some perspective.
FIND NEW FRIENDS: I think this is the part that hurts most for you; you have been usurped by a 8 pound, 4 ounce creature, one whose needs have taken precedence over your own. That baby stole the woman you used to share cosmos and cute dudes with and turned her into someone who wears sneakers with jeans and struggles to keep her eyes open until 9pm. That fact is commonality and shared experiences are the glue that hold relationships together. The things that have become super important to them are not to you and vice versa. That’s not a bad thing; it’s just a thing. So now would be a good time to cultivate friends who are at the same life stage as you. Make yourself scarce among the mommy crowd and eventually they’ll look up, poopy diaper in hand, and wonder where and how you’ve been.
TAKE A LOOK INSIDE: I’m going to ask a really tough question. You mentioned you have a stepson and I’m sure you love him as if you had given birth to him. But is there a tiny part of you that wishes you had had your own child? Is something else driving your emotion? I do believe the things we talked about up top are at least a part, but it feels like they could be the outward manifestation of something deeper. Just a thought.
Unfortunately for you, these friends and their mandates ARE one-sided, at least for now. I have faith they won’t always be this way but you have two choices; you can wait for them to change or you can change your expectation. I would do the latter as that’s really the only place you have real control. Oh and for the friend who won’t drive more than five miles from her house, please, please, PLEASE get her a copy of Good Enough Mother!
Good luck mommy!