You have your best friends and people you think will be in your life forever. Then there’s the people you don’t really talk to very much but know will be there the second you need them, and you’d do the same for them. Your family is your family (for better or worse) and that’s a whole different ball game altogether.
Here’s the thing: Having a baby changes practically everything. And that’s ok. In fact, it’s a good thing, you’re life SHOULD change (somewhat). You now have someone else who should be your #1 priority. The problem is, only other moms really and truly understand this. Hell, I didn’t understand what it meant to have a child until I had one of my own, there’s literally no way of really getting what another mother is going through until you are a mother, yourself.
Yes, we all get it: You’re sleep deprived (which, by the way is a form of torture and now I understand why), you’re cranky, you’re probably dirty, you’re struggling to balance it all. BUT no one can quite grasp what it’s REALLY like unless you’ve been through it, yourself.
You don’t have to tell another mother you’re sorry you haven’t texted her or asked about her high-school boyfriend’s ex girlfriend’s child. She knows you don’t have to explain how exhausted you are or that you’ve cried 3 times already and it’s only 11 AM and now you’re laughing and posting pictures of your baby’s funny faces while he nurses because it’s easier to post a picture than it is to text. She understands because she’s been there. She won’t scoff at your incessant Facebook posts or judge you for being you. She’s a mom, she knows. It’s an unofficial secret society.
No one, and I mean no one knows what it’s like to be a new mother except for a seasoned vet. So, you’re friends might change. Some of them might not understand why you can’t just get lunch on any given afternoon while others, whom you aren’t even really that close to might offer to bring you lunch at home. They might not even know your address.
I have lost friends that I’ve had for years and rekindled lost friendships completely unexpectedly simply because we now have something very powerful in common. Motherhood. It’s like going through a labyrinth or complicated obstacle course. Only those who have gone through it understand and it makes you want to reach your hand out to help the other through.
“Here, read this book, take this supplement, go this way, not that way, here’s what worked for me, borrow this swaddle, use this sound machine, eat these cookies, drink this juice” and so on. Like anything else, the help from those who have gone before you is like none other. We instinctively want to help each other and celebrate each other’s victories.
Unfortunately, this is the exact thing that can actually cause a friendship to end while strengthening or rekindling another. Have you ever had a victory or overcome something incredible? Maybe you’ve gone through a really difficult experience and looked around to see who was there to share in your joy or hold your hand.
It’s funny and sometimes really surprising to see who’s standing there and even more surprising to see who isn’t. You don’ have to be a mother to have experienced something like this.
Like I said before, there are some people who you don’t have to talk to but know would be there in a heartbeat. I have 2 girlfriends from high school who literally drop everything for me and don’t miss any celebration of mine and we hardly ever talk! We don’t need to in order to know we could call and the other would be there.
I have a friend here in NC whom I had a falling out with and didn’t speak to for about a year. Then I found out that we were pregnant at the same time. I showed up to her baby shower and all was forgotten. We were both going through the same things and understood each others excitement and fear. After I had Chase, she was there for me like none other. She walked in my door one day and I looked at her while holding my newborn and just started sobbing. She said “I know, girl, it’s ok”. She brought me food and made me lactation cookies, she has been such a good friend, I can’t even list everything she’s done for me and my family and if you had told me a year ago that she would be the one keeping me sane during those first few months, (and even now) I wouldn’t have believed you.
The same goes for one of my favorite cousins. Not that we had a falling out, but we had grown apart since I moved away. She has 2 beautiful little boys and after I had Chase, I relied on her so much for advice on EVERYTHING. I have called and texted her so many thousands of times asking why this was happening when I breast fed, is this normal, what do you dress your baby in at this age so that they’re not too hot or cold, when is it ok to give them a blanky, and so on. She has sent me tons of clothes (from 800 miles away) and has been so thoughtful and always there to help me. There was never a conversation about who had stopped keeping in touch with whom, she just understood me and I FINALLY understood everything she had gone through, what her every day life is like and really how selfish I had been. I hadn’t kept up with her after she had her babies, but now that I have my own, I will always make sure to do so because I just get it. Our hearts are connected again. All of the fears, joy, sadness, and absolute bliss is an unspoken relation.
One of my best friends since I was 13 and I stopped talking for over 5 years for something so minute. It’s sad, really. We missed out on so many important milestones in each other’s lives over that period of time and truthfully, I didn’t think we’d ever speak again due to stubbornness on both our parts. Then Christmas came, it was Chase’s first, and looking at a picture of my family from that day, I realized my friend hadn’t seen my baby and I hadn’t seen her son in way too long. She had since had 2 more babies and I knew nothing about them and couldn’t believe she had the courage and strength to go through pregnancy, birth, and raising a houseful of beautiful boys. I always loved her (and missed her very much) but suddenly had a newfound respect for her. I understood that the spat we had wasn’t worth missing out on any more of each other’s lives.
As quickly as some friendships are made and rekindled, others are broken. I guess it’s all a part of life. I don’t know if I’ll ever speak to certain people again or if I’ll ever be able to raise my child around some of my favorite moms but I know this: I will never take for granted a genuine, good friend. Someone you can rely on, someone who honestly cares about you and understands what you’re going through as a mother. The excitement, the absolute pride, the way your heart literally feels like it’s melting and the days when you’re sure you’re doing a terrible job. The days when you can reach out and ask what you can do to help and the days when you ask for it.
Mommies are the toughest people I know. I tip my hat to you, Mama.