Not too long ago I had a falling out with a best friend. The argument itself wasn’t a shocker, over the course of our 22 year friendship we’ve had many, but this one was different. For me there was one sentence that was the catalyst in the shift of our friendship.
I received an email from this friend breaking down into explicit detail why I was a bad friend. From not sharing my love of yoga with them, not asking for advice on anxiety (which we both struggle from) and lastly, that I didn’t take the time to study about infertility, like I said I would try to do, so I could share in her pain. I’d like to say that I tried to respond in the most Christian way I could – whether or not it was received that way, I don’t know. But as we went back and forth my defense was: I was managing 19 people, working 50 hours a week and then coming home to my husband and six kids, yes, SIX. I stated that any free time I had was saved for my family, not studying infertility. I pointed out that my lack of studying was not indicative of my concern for her, I truly cared deeply about this person and I would be overjoyed if they were to become pregnant, I just didn’t have time. In their response, rebutting any “excuse” I had, one sentence took all the fight out of me. “I don’t have kids but I’m busy too”. I read that, stopped, and read it again. It was like a wave of calm and understanding took over me.
You can’t compare what you don’t know. Have you ever vented to your childless friend about being up all night with a baby? When you’re done venting your friend looks at you and says “yeah, I know what you mean, Fido licked my face at 3:00 this morning and woke me up”. Really? You KNOW what I mean? Unless Fido was aggressively attacking your nipple every two hours last night I don’t think you KNOW what I mean. Stuff like that used to frustrate me until I realized that most of the time they are just trying to feel like they can sympathize with us. They really do have good intentions, well, most of them do, but sometimes end up insulting parents instead of helping. How can you fully have someone understand what it’s like to watch your heart outside of your body if they don’t have a basis for comparison (and NO, your animal doesn’t count – grrrr).
Friends feel unimportant. After becoming a mom I had no interest in going out. When I did I instantly felt guilty and wanted to go home. Mom’s are nodding their heads, everyone else is rolling their eyes. I’ve had a couple friends get frustrated that I couldn’t be out past a certain time or get annoyed when their suggested time interfered with my child’s nap time. Or how your child felt that the moment you buckled him in the car seat was the perfect time to have explosive diarrhea and projectile vomit. Trust me, before kids I would feel the same way. “What the hell. I’m never going to let my child dictate my schedule” – LOLOLOL!! How naïve was I?! Your child IS your schedule. From nap time to feeding time to quiet time to bed time, your world shifts so you can teach this precious child the meaning of normalcy. If you’ve never had to deal with the curveballs that children can throw you I can easily see how one could be offended or angry about changing or canceling plans.
One day they’ll understand. After the birth of my first child I had such a change of heart. The people that I would try to steer clear from became very important to me. I suddenly understood the frustration in my friends voice when they had to cancel our playdate because a stomach bug had swept through their house or their sitter canceled and they were not able to make it. Oh, I get it, you can’t just be selfish and up and leave your child to pay attention to me. I understand now, this amazing little bundle of joy is the center of my world. People that I only talked to here and there now became a must have in my day to day conversations.
The calm and understanding that swept thru me the day I read that sentence is still in place. I love this person dearly, but for the moment, until they can experience offspring, our friendship has taken a backseat. For now, I will cling tightly to the mommy friends that I have in my life. The ones who I don’t have to talk to everyday but feel like no time has gone by when we do meet up. The ones that lovingly hug me when I have a breakdown because I feel like a horrible mom, or send me back encouraging text messages when I have let them know that I feel down. The moms that rejoice and celebrate when my children have reached a milestone – even the silly ones like their first giggle. I never knew the importance of having close, tight knit mommy friends until I became a mom. Now I couldn’t imagine my life without them. Celebrate your mom friends and do all you can to build each other up.
For the friendships that are struggling due to reasons above, don’t give up hope and try to be patient. If you have to step aside like I have and pray that one day the friendship will be rekindled, don’t feel guilty. One day, hopefully, you can be the person that your friend comes to for advice on mommy-hood. But until that day comes you should never feel guilty for putting your family first and not tolerating people who don’t understand or support that.