PREGNANCY IS THE BEGINNING OF YOUR SOCIAL DECLINE. Have you ever had this thought? Do you lie awake some nights over the loss of normal social interaction? From now on, my friends will think I have become a hermit and all I know is the rotation of: diaper change > nap > nurse > diaper change > nap > nurse > DIAPER CHANGE > NAP > NURSE!
Consciously or not, this is something we fear on some level.
The diaper-change-nap-nurse rotation can feel eternal at times. Like you’re in the 9th circle of hell.
It’s true, having a child changes your life like nothing else. And yes, there is a grind that you have to buck up and get through. But I want to discuss the social positives (yes, positives!) that having a child can bring.
My friendships changed when I became a mother. Sure – I wish I could go out with friends on a whim. I wish I saw acquaintances more often. And of course, some friendships faded.
But my friendships that have strengthened are mind-blowing! These friendships are significantly deeper than they were B.K. (Before Kids!) because these friends have now turned into family.
My best friend isn’t a mother. But she is the most fantastic auntie. It’s not even that I should say she still fits with our life; that undermines her. Every part of my life and our family’s life and my children’s lives (and hopefully her life too!) is better than before. This woman comes into my house, forgets to say hi to me, and runs to my kids. Half the time, I don’t even realize she’s arrived until I hear my kids’ screams of glee. She can’t help herself when Cat & Jack goes on clearance at Target, to the point where she wants me to update her the moment my kids are growing. She suggests family outings, and cool places to take our kids. She comes to our house 99% of the time because toting around kids is hard. And she brings coffee. She participates in bedtime. She reads books and plays games.
To be honest, I love our friendship now more than our friendship B.K. I experience more with her, open up to her in different ways and have to be authentic (read: vulnerable) more often. Our friendship is tested; it requires more grace, more flexibility, more heart. And it does not wax and wane easily.
But the thing is, I can’t credit myself with the longevity of our friendship. It is simply a blessing. So, if you’re a mother and have a close friendship like this – if you’ve been nodding and mmm’ing as you read – make sure to tell her (or him) how grateful you are and hold onto them like the treasure they are.
If you’re a mom and you don’t have a friendship like this, it just means you have to find and foster one! And truly, it can be done. Here’s how I managed when my best friend wasn’t near:
- Get yourself out there!
The Navy taught me this one before I even had kids. I was dropped into a world where I knew nobody except my husband, who was often deployed. I learned to put myself out there to find friends, even (and especially) when it made me feel uncomfortable. I still haven’t perfected this ability, but I have learned that trying pays off more often than it doesn’t.
- Find other people who are doing the same.
Where are the other moms? Find them, and you instantly have common ground. Have older kids? Find the best park in the city, put away your smart phone, and make conversation with the other mom wearing her baby. Go to church? Start or join a mom’s group there. Go and find your next best friend – she might be right under your nose.
- Ask for help – and offer it too.
Moms need each other! We imagine getting help means we’re an imposition. That it’s simply a burden. But in reality, giving and receiving support builds community. It brings us closer to each other as we live our lives and helps us avoid isolation. It brings authenticity to our interactions. As my 2-year-old wisely stated this afternoon while we were hiding from monsters: “You can save me and I can save you!”
- Do your best, forget the rest!
I just quoted Paw Patrol (forgive me), but it’s true. There will be flops. There might even be rejection. I can remember off the top of my head multiple times when I came on too strong for people (Let’s be friends!!) and had to adjust along the way. And even some people that I scared in the beginning turned out to be good friends in the end.
Try, take a deep breath, and get up again tomorrow. Then try, try, try again when it seems like nothing is working. I guarantee you that you are worth befriending.
- Give it time.
Sigh. I know. This is the piece of advice no one wants to hear but knows is coming. Genuine friendship takes time. While we were in the Navy and far from home, I had to find other friends in lieu of my bestie. Luckily, I have been able to make deep friendships along the way, but they always took time to build.
What about you? Do you have any stories about how your friends embraced your growing family? What was challenging? What surprised you?