by: Jody Che
I remember when I first got pregnant and broke the news to my friends. Being the only one married (and first one pregnant) in our group, the news was met with joy, tears and excitement. My girlfriends huddled around me protectively for the next 10 months – asking for updates on my pregnancy, throwing me a baby shower…they were present, curious, loving and supportive.
So it was such a surprise when I started to feel disconnected from them after the birth of my daughter. We were out at dinner for a rare Girls Night Out, and everyone took turns sharing what was new in their lives. Every one of them was rattling off about their love lives (single and dating) and their careers (booming), and all I could talk about was how many times my baby pooped that day. And of course…no one had anything to say in response to me. I felt an overwhelming sense of loss at that moment, because these women, my good friends, suddenly seemed foreign. It felt harder to speak to them, and being aware of that fact stressed me out. What happened?
I became a Mom, that’s what happened.
Becoming a mother is like joining a sorority – with a painful and sleep deprived initiation process. Until one goes through that true labor of love, it is difficult to wrap your mind around it, and it’s impossible to be the same person after. Some friends will never understand that I now live my life in short 90 minute spurts while my child is napping, or “what’s new” in my life is measured by my child’s latest developmental milestone. And even if I had the energy to stay up drinking past 2am, I don’t want to because I have to be “on” the next morning at 7am, nomatterwhat.
As much as I wish that my friendships would remain the same, I have to realize that they haven’t changed – I have. Where I used to be fantastic at long phone conversations and returning emails, now it’s become a miracle if I can even remember where I last placed my cell phone. The chances that I’m able to have a decent conversation with my girlfriends have dwindled to nothing, and I’m always, always running late because of a nap that was off schedule. And when you turn down their invites to party after party….well, soon they’ve stopped inviting you all together because they assume you won’t go anyway (that’s the truth). But hey, I’d still like to be considered!
As new mothers, we need to realize that we’ve graduated to a different stage of our lives. This doesn’t mean that our friends don’t love us, or that we don’t love them, we’ll just have to learn how to appreciate each other differently, and to meet in the middle. To them, I must seem like an alien because let’s face it, until you have your own kids, you will never truly get how consuming it is. And I hate to admit it, but sometimes their worries seem small and petty to me, that I just don’t have the energy to talk them. Our priorities have shifted drastically, and it’s inevitable that there will be some fallout.
Obviously, I am still trying to figure out the solution to this. I miss my friends, but realize the new limitations and responsibilities in my life. I now try to set aside some time to place a few short phone calls, answer my casual emails, and to reach out so they don’t feel like I’ve forgotten them. And all I can hope for in return is understanding, that when it comes down to it, I’m always here for them.
Oh, and I can’t wait until they have their own little ones……so they’ll finally understand how one really can talk about poop all. day. long.