Before I became a parent, I had several friends who entered the parenthood world before me. Way before me. I experienced the roller coaster of emotions that came with my role as a kid-free-friend. And if you’re a woman whose friends started having children before you, you know what I mean.
Picture life before kids. Always busy. Dinner plans a few times a week. Dinner, drinks with the possibility of local music at least a couple of weekends out of the month. Concerts a few times a year. Vacations. Oh, the days of fitting in vacations with friends. This is the time of your life when you’re choosing your framily, friends who are like family. You cannot imagine life without them.
Then someone gets pregnant. Because you love them like family, you’re thrilled. You can’t wait to plan baby showers and celebrate their growing family. And you really can’t wait to get your hands on that itty-bitty-baby. These are the moments when you imagine being the best aunt in the world because, of course, you’ll be just as involved; you’re already sharing life with these people.
You and the besties plan a baby shower and invite all of the other friends with who she has been doing life. It’s so much fun because everyone is giving cheers to the parents-to-be. It’s the best baby shower that has EVER been thrown!
A few weeks later, you get the call that the mama-to-be is in labor. They’re heading to the hospital and updates do not come often enough. But FINALLY, that call comes in. It’s a healthy baby girl. She’s 7lbs 10oz and 20.5″ long. You can’t wait to get to the hospital for a visit, but wait… Your framily just requested no visitors. They want privacy to settle in as a family. A few days will do. They said...
“Maybe you can come by the house in a few days after we get home and settled?”
Jaw On The Floor.
As the next few weeks and months pass, you find yourself questioning your friendship because (what felt like) the sudden change in lifestyle with these friends who you chose to be your family has you all up in your head. In fact, after you find them seeking out new friends with babies, you begin to mourn the life you had before their baby arrived and these feelings come with a lot of guilt.
If you were the first friend to have a baby or were expecting your first right behind her, you may not have found the connection to this story yet, but keep reading. You’ll find a connection before I’m done.
What’s the saying? Time heals? I don’t know if this is actually true in any loss, but what is true is that time allows you to find a new normal. This is a good time to learn and pray...
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
And then guess what happens next. You become pregnant. If you’re in similar shoes to mine, you’ve been through the whirlwind I just described enough times that it became the norm. Those changes were no longer something that lived in your conscious. And now that it’s your turn to enter the other world, you aren’t even thinking about the differences.
You are living in your moment. You’re blissfully happy about soon being a mommy. The only subjects you know are pregnancy and baby.
Your friends start planning the best baby shower ever thrown. And it’s fun, all right, but instead of soaking in what will possibly be some of the last moments you share with a few people on your guest list, you’re thinking about your baby’s wardrobe. Dreaming about how these amazing gifts you were just showered are going to set you up to be the best mom in the world, having the most fun time in your life.
Then, labor comes and the baby arrives. It’s a healthy baby boy. He’s 8lbs and 20 inches long. Even if you don’t ask for no visitors, it’s now, it’s that moment when you have your first flashback. You flashback to the moment when your friends asked for privacy to settle in as family and you get it. You GET IT.
As you live in every single moment that comes over the next few days, weeks, and months, you gradually start to recognize how drastic your lifestyle has changed, and you compare how different it is to when you thought someone else’s change, changed your life so much. Are you following me? Let me say that another way. As time goes by and you settle into parenthood, after catching up on some much-needed sleep, of course, you gradually start to compare the difference between the change that just happened in your life to when your friend had the first baby and you were still kid-free. A light bulb or two might go off in your head as you start to relate to “that other world” which you could-not-relate before but are now living.
The next few years bring around many more light bulbs that are similar to that. But sometimes, you find yourself experiencing confusion and doubt again, just like when you were kid-free. While you may have mourned the loss of the lifestyle you had before your friend had the first baby, when everyone was doing life together, now you find yourself mourning the friendships you feel are lost due to your having the baby. Because of seasons. Seasons come and seasons go, but some things stay the same.
I’m not claiming expert status on life as it has to do with friendships, new moms, or life’s seasons, but I do have experience in these departments. Isn’t it experience and the sharing of experiences that make navigating life changes easier?
This morning, I found myself missing many faces. Faces that I use to see daily, weekly, or at least monthly. I can’t name the last time that I saw a few of them, though I think of them often and imagine if we were back together it would feel like life just stood still. Like not a moment passed. Yet I’m finding the absence to feel like an eternity.
If you are the person in this story who is kid-free, consider the changes happening for the new mom in your life as a natural progression. These changes are not pre-calculated or expected. And as much as this may sting, these changes are not about you, because of you or for you! New moms have no idea how their lives will drastically change because the only thing they pre-calculated was throwing that kid on their hip and toting them right along with them. Reality just slapped them in the face, honey. And it was a bigger shock to them than the feelings you are having.
If you are the new mom in this story, whether you’ve had a friend go before you or not, consider that your kid-free-friend is not experiencing the natural and progressive changes that are happening for you. They do not and cannot understand, but they are also experiencing a change (though it is different from yours) which also impacts them big time. A change that also matters.
Which side is your story doesn’t matter when it comes down to how this knowledge can build stronger friendships and understanding of the gap between our worlds. What matters here is how you act. What you do or don’t do.
I recommend that either party put in a little extra effort. The effort you might feel the other party should make first. Take action. Send a text when that person crosses your mind. Have Siri dial them and have a chat, long or short, while you’re driving down the road. Do something that lets the other one know you still care. You still think of them. These actions can simply reassure someone that you look forward to the day when our faces meet again, if even for a different-than-our-usual-visit, if only for a quick hug if we just take the chance. The chance to hang onto a friendship through life’s seasons of change. The result just might be beautiful.