I’ll never forget when I was newly pregnant, and an old friend warned me that having a baby changes everything. “Well, no kidding,” I thought. I mean, your life isn’t your own anymore, and your sole focus is the wellbeing of someone other than yourself and/or your spouse. But then she followed up with, “Your friendships will change. People who don’t have children will not necessarily understand your positions, your neuroses, your priorities. It’s essentially Mother Nature’s way of natural selection of friends.” After becoming extremely hormonal and depressed about this thought, she quickly followed up with, “Don’t worry. It leaves new room in your life for new chapters, new friendships, and recalibrating to surround yourself with those whose lives more closely mirror your own – even if just because your family road maps are similar.”
While I took her advice to heart and expected things to change, I never really grasped the changing of the guard until I saw it for myself. Friends without children can (and frequently do) express complete and utter awe at their friends who have entered this next phase. But eventually, the novelty wears off, the Instagram and Facebook posts become less interesting (“Can you not post something else, already?”), and the day-to-day grind of raising a family, working (if that is part of the equation), and maintaining a healthy marriage is no small feat. It’s easy to slowly drift away, like shores lapping up the sand on a beach after a life-changing storm.
But I think the hardest realization comes when you realize that as those friends become moms themselves, they have their own way of moving on and navigating the choppy waters. Sometimes that involves you, a lifelong friend, and other times it doesn’t. Sometimes you are replaced with a newer model friend, one who has a baby the same age and/or gender. Because at that moment in time, to that mom, those things matter. And who can blame her? It’s what we all do. #Solidarity. Whatever you can do to get through those early days, months, and years. . . That’s what you need to do. Happy mom, happy baby. And let’s not address toddlers and the four to five range. . . That’s just another story.
One can hope, though, with children of my own, that eventually the tide will shift back and as children continue to age, those friendships of old will gradually make their way back into our lives. After all, some of the best stories are those where parents navigate life together, not segmented in to boxes or groups, but together where everyone can support each other.
Here’s to 2017 being a year filled with play dates, friendships, and figuring out what in the world we are all doing and how on Earth the hospitals let us leave with our children (did they not foresee the chaos?). And while we are at it, here’s to reinvesting in those relationships that might have taken a back burner in 2016, due to all that life throws at us. Let’s bring back the tribe mentality. We’re all in it together, after all.