I was one of those pregnant women who swore life WOULD NOT change after baby. I’d have the baby, go out often, travel the world, be a fun and constant friend, work full-time and climb the corporate ladder. Needless to say, things didn’t quite turn out that way.
Parenthood turns your life on its head. It shakes up everything. Including friendships. And it’s not just immediately after baby, there are other times when motherhood alters the landscape of your friendship circle.
Here are 5 times motherhood will shake your friendships…
Announcing your pregnancy to a friend who is trying to conceive without success or who has recently experienced a loss
I have been on both sides of this particular situation and neither is easy. But let’s face it, the balance of grace needs to tip towards the person hurting. It may be simply too painful for that friend to be around a growing bump and baby talk. They might need to take some out from the friendship. The best thing you can offer is understanding and the assurance that you will still be there for them in the future. If you’re the one facing heartache, it’s okay to put yourself and your needs first. A good friend will understand.
Heading back to work after maternity leave
Your child is nearing one. You feel like you are finally getting this parenting gig sorted. You have a regular catch up with on a Tuesday morning with your mothers group and it’s the highlight of your week. Then it happens. There are increasingly less of you as your friends start heading back to work. The group dissolves into nothingness. Suddenly it’s impossible to find a week day that suits you all – everyone’s part-time schedules are so different. You promise each other weekends but in reality it’s not possible with existing commitments. Again, I have been on both sides of this particular coin. It can be really tough to find that your support system no longer exists. And from the point of view of a mum heading back to work, sometimes it’s hard to keep your head above water, let alone find time for a mothers group. Some friendships last for a season and others are longer term. You will know the women in your group that you want to form strong friendships with. Concentrate on those and be open to irregular catch ups with the whole group.
Your parenting styles are completely different.
It’s terribly exciting when you find yourself pregnant at the same time as pre-kid friend. You start planning play dates for your kids, marriage even. Then when the children actually come along, you find that you parent completely differently. Maybe your friend smacks and you have a big issue with that. Maybe you are fine with a pre-packaged sugary snack here and there and your friend is dedicated to healthy eating. Maybe you are quite lax and they are quite strict. Every relationship needs give and take but if your parenting styles are polar opposites, then both of you are going to feel really uncomfortable. Perhaps this friendship can be salvaged when it’s just the pair of you, but the play dates are going to have to go for the sake of everyone’s sanity.
When your child’s friends change.
As your kids grow older, their friends tend to dictate your friends. You find yourself making close friendships with the mothers of your kid’s best friends. Which is all fine and dandy until the friendships change or you move schools or (forbid it ever happen, but it does) there is a blow up between the kids that explodes into the parent’s life as well. Again, some friendships are seasonal. But if you really, genuinely adore spending time together, you make it work no matter what the situation between your children.
Friends without kids who don’t get it.
I have wonderful friends who don’t have kids that my boys absolutely adore. Those friends understand children. They are happy to talk to them (however banal the topic). Happy to play with them. Know that when we come over it’s best to put the precious vase out of reach. Then there are those who don’t get children. Who would seemingly prefer that they didn’t exist at all. The ones we can’t visit because their house is not kid-friendly, who suggest catch ups at restaurants completely inappropriate for under 18s and can’t quite comprehend that 3am shenanigans are just no longer a possibility. I am still happy to catch up with those friends, sans kids. But my boys are a huge part of my life. I’d prefer to share them with my friends than pretend I don’t have them.