Hi Is This Normal,
My friends officially suck. I’m the first of my group to have a kid and the way my friends have changed/reacted/participated in my life since has left me depressed, lonely and misunderstood. I get that none of them are moms but the oscillating “want to grab a drink tonight” / “want me to come sit on the couch with you” is such a freaking eye roll, I can’t believe they think this is my life now.
HELLO? I’m still 33? I still want to go out (can’t you just give a few days notice), I don’t exist solely in my living room and I’d like to be included in all the dinners and classes and fun shit that’s happening (or at least give me the option!).
I don’t know how to communicate this to my girls and I also have no idea how to go about finding a mom community. I’ve dipped a toe into a few community groups and honestly, they feel lame to me….I’m 33!!!
It leaves me feeling like I’m in some push pull of ‘be the old you’ or ‘be a new you’ and I don’t feel like I should have to change, but maybe I do?
Help me save my friendships and find new ones please.
Odd One Out
Dearest Odd One Out,
Being the first one in your circle to do something as life-changing as having a baby can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you are The Oracle. The OG. The seen it-done it-been there and lived to tell the tale-friend who, in a few years’ time, will become something of a Motherhood Guru in your circle. But it can also be lonely. Crushingly, unexpectedly lonely. Because your life has changed in the most major of ways, and your friends’ lives … haven’t. And as close as you are and as much as your girls have been there for you up until now, motherhood is one of those things that is hard to understand and process from the outside looking in.
I’m going to come at this from both perspectives. I’ve been The Friend, and I am The Mama.
As The Friend, I can tell you I had a difficult time knowing what my place was in my mama friend’s life, now that so much of it was taken up by this new little human. It was a very delicate balance between wanting to be involved, and not knowing how to be involved, if that makes sense? Yes, I wanted my friend to come out to bars and play wingman for poor single me. But I was also positive that it would seem 100% selfish to ask her to leave her baby at home for the night and come out to do silly girlfriend stuff. Not being a parent, I didn’t understand that mamas need a break and a distraction. I felt like an idiot asking her to go out of her way to stay a part of my life, and didn’t quite understand how to comfortably stay a part of her life. There’s a middle ground between going out to rage at a club and sitting on the couch staring at the baby – I just didn’t know what that middle ground was, or how to broach it with my friend. And while I’m maternal – I also didn’t really “get” the baby thing. I was happy for my friend, but I didn’t understand how one could be happy in the middle of the absolute chaos and disruption that a baby seemed to bring her.
As The Mama, I have had many, many friendships fall by the wayside after having kids. It’s sad and it sucks every single time. It’s hard to explain being a mom to non-parents. It’s hard to explain how you haven’t slept in a week, not because the baby isn’t sleeping, but because you’re afraid they’ll stop breathing in their sleep so you lie awake staring at them for hours at a time. It’s hard to explain why you’re so far behind on all your favorite TV shows when, theoretically, you have hours at your disposal every single day because your baby pretty much just lays there or sleeps on your belly. It’s exceptionally hard to explain the phenomenon of needing to be as far away from the screaming baby as possible while also feeling as if you might actually die if you’re more than two feet apart. Some of my friends continued inviting me out and tried to keep me involved in their lives. But the more I politely declined (“Oh man, that sounds fun! But the baby is teething/has sleep regression/has a fever/I don’t have a sitter and husband is working tonight/the laundry in my house is staging a coup and I need to get it under control”), the less I was invited. And I get that, I do! I don’t even really blame them. But it does hurt. And it’s a process, coming to terms with the permanency of being a mother. That role doesn’t go away. Once a mom, always a mom. A great quote (and as you get to know me, you’ll notice that I LOVE quotes): “I remain fascinated by where you go once you are a mother, and if you ever come back”
It sounds like you and your girls need to have a heart-to-heart, ASAP. I suggest asking your partner to take the baby somewhere for the evening, asking all your girls over for dinner, and just laying it all out there. Be honest with them about how you’re feeling, but at the same time, be ready and willing to listen to and accept their honest feedback. You’re focusing on how THEY’RE letting YOU down, but I imagine they might have their own grievances about this major shift in your friendship. The thing about friendships is that they’re not static. They are constantly evolving and shifting based on your needs and the direction your life is going. This blip doesn’t necessarily signal the end of your friendship. But it may be a sign that it’s time to reevaluate what you need and want from a friend, and adjust your expectations a bit. Cherish the value they bring to your life, but open yourself up to the possibility that you might need something more and/or different now. Life change is hard, and growing pains are to be expected. But you guys can overcome this hurdle, if the friendships are worth saving (only you can answer that).
Now, about making new friends … MY GOD, IS THERE ANYTHING HARDER?! Kids can make friends with a stump, but man is it awkward and hard to do as an adult. I love that the internet has made it possible to connect with so many people. But IRL friends are so valuable, honestly. Here’s my suggestion for you: don’t try to replace your current circle of non-mom friends with a new circle of mom friends. Your girls are going to come around, and when they all start having kids, things will balance out again. But in the meantime, hit up a few local mommy and me classes, in whatever medium strikes your fancy. Take a mommy and me yoga class with your little one. It might take some time to find one that strikes the right chord with you, and that’s OK. I met one of my dearest IRL friends at open play session at one of the neighborhood indoor play rooms. We bonded over our love of memes and our dislike of open play (go figure!). I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have a friend who understands why it takes me three days to answer a text, or have someone who shows up to our coffee date in the same leggings/baggy sweater/messy bun ensemble. Bonus: her baby is 3 weeks older, so she just warns me of all the craziness that is to come next, and then coaches me through it.
Friendship is all about finding people who enhance your life, and every one of your friends will do that in their own special way. You don’t need to cut your old friends out of your life when you have a baby. But it does really help to have a couple of friends who are right there in the trenches with you, who understand this crazy journey called motherhood. Tell your current friends how you feel, and put yourself out there to meet some new people. It’s hard, I know. But deep breaths. Just do it. And remember – as hard as this is for you, it’s just as hard for the mama sitting on the park bench, watching her kid eat sand, waiting for that first yawn from her little one so she can pack it in without feeling guilty. When your kids are older, you’ll encourage them to be brave and do hard things. So this is me, encouraging you: you are brave, and you can do hard things.
Forever the Odd Mom Out,
Is This Normal