I was thinking the other day about friends I've lost since becoming a mom; in particular female friends without kids. Am I just not interesting to them anymore? A goner, with a mush brain, the way I used to think of moms with young kids?
When my best friend became a mom, I felt like I lost her. I couldn't see why she didn't have time to talk with me on the phone for an hour every day anymore. Why she couldn't really talk with me even when I came over to visit. Why all she seemed to think and talk about was her baby.
It embarrasses me now that I was so clueless. It didn't take me long as a new mom to see that really, she was the one who lost me.
When I apologized, she said she felt badly too that she'd lacked the words to explain to me how her life had changed. I don't blame her; I haven't figured it out either. Partly, it's the grief that I may not be living up to someone's standards, wishing me, perhaps, to be more like I used to be. Partly then it's also defensiveness about not being like I used to be, while also feeling like I still really am. Then there's also my insecurities about seeming like a complete mush brain were we do get together; I mean, I do have a hard time completing sentences and recalling stuff during conversations. I'm clearly not up-to-date on a lot of things.
It's a booster, then, to actually have girlfriends without kids whom I can have fun with while being myself completely. After I last had lunch with one such friend, I felt so invigorated and affirmed; that I'm still somewhat interesting to talk with. I mean, she's this successful attorney at a big law firm, super sharp and intelligent. It may be to my benefit that she mainly does family law, dealing intimately with a lot of moms going through divorce. She sees that while they're fighting over custody rights for their children, it's still really hard to be the one with children.
Which brings me to another thing about this friend that I'm truly grateful for: I can be blunt about my frustrations about being a mom with her. When I told her this, because it doesn't feel like that's the way it usually is with child-free friends whom I feel would judge me were I to bitch about the hard parts of parenting, she just looked at me a bit baffled; "but it's your job, we all bitch about our jobs, no matter how much we love them."
See?! She totally gets it. Parenting is work, and though it's my preference to do it, there are elements of it that I at times would really like to abdicate from having to do and deal with. It feels good to vent about those things to friends who don't question your loyalty and love for your job.
But back to the friends who don't seem to get it, what are the magic words? Anyone?
On a related note, you might be interested in this book to which our in-town writer Shannon Hylland-Tassava's has a piece titled "The Mommy Wars Killed Our Friendship."
"Have you ever had something you wanted to say to a friend, but couldn’t? Ever wished you could go back in time to say something you didn’t? Female friendships are some of the most powerful and beautiful relationships in our lives, but it can sometimes be hard to express our true sentiments to these friends. Whether it be pride, fear, feelings, or circumstance that stand in the way, each of us likely has something we wish we could say to someone, but haven’t. In P.S., Megan McMorris collects these sentiments, as an anthology of unsent letters written by a range of women. For the friend who’s been there for you through everything, the friend you’ve lost touch with, or the friend you’ve wished you could help, P.S. offers a chance to express the unspoken."