From the moment I knew I was expecting, I imagined the life my boy would lead. Many of the things I imagined were the “firsts.” First smile, first giggle, first steps, first holidays, first birthday . . . Oh, how the life of a mommy is filled with firsts. But I soon realized another first I was a part of: I was the first of my friends to have a baby.
I had many people who were there to support me and offer their help, but when it came to friends my age who also had kids? Well, there just weren’t any. I knew that my friendships would change because I was newly married, and now I was adding a baby to the already changing dynamic. There were lessons that would come with being the first mom among my friends, but I had yet to see what they were.
I was left out. But more than likely, it was not intentional. I remember telling my husband that 3:00 a.m. was the loneliest time for me. I was (what felt like) the only human, awake and I often would scroll through social media during that time to keep myself awake while my sweet baby nursed. That’s when I would see it. Pictures of all of my girlfriends together. Eating out. At a bridal shower. Grabbing coffee together. And it stung. I was still their friend, right? I would often cry in the rocking chair feeling just so alone. I would talk to my husband about my thoughts the next day and through wounded tears confess that I felt like I had lost all my friends because I had a baby. As I had time to process this, think about it with a little more sleep, and even see these friends in public, I realized a few things. When you are a
new mom, there will be parties that start too late for you to be out with your baby. There will be road trips that would require too much planning, pumping, or paraphernalia to be do-able. I have to remind myself often that people don’t have to plan their events around my baby’s schedule. I doubt that any of my friends set out to exclude me from their plans, but it just didn’t always feel like it. I think it just happened naturally, as I needed to stay at home more, and their lives continued without kids. This doesn’t make it hurt any less, but I have learned that it has never been ill-intent that keep an invite from coming my way.
I was judged for my parenting. Friends would make little comments about how they would do things different if they had a baby. They would talk about what they would do to help a baby sleep. These remarks hurt, and were (and are) also frustrating. But, I was that person. Before I had a kid, I never thought I would go to bed willingly at 8:00 p.m. I never thought I would co-sleep. I vowed to never use the TV as a way to entertain (even if for 5 minutes) my child. Well, it took having a baby for me to change my mind on all of those issues. I was right there with my kid-less friends thinking and judging and making future plans for my surely-perfect baby.
I am the now the baby guru. I now have some friends that are pregnant, and I could not be more thrilled for them! Though I am far from the expert on anything pregnancy or baby related, I get the honor of being the person my friends look to for the mommy-talks. I love being able to tell them about my experiences, pray for them as they traverse the sometimes overwhelming task of caring for a baby, and offer my support and encouragement. I so wish I had this when I was pregnant, so I cherish any moment I get to do this for others.
I need my friends without kids and they need me. As wonderful as it is to have a fellow stroller-pusher to walk off the baby pounds with and gab about teething and diaper rash cream, I need girls in my life who are living lives that don’t look like mine. I want to hear about their engagements, their trials and successes at work, their family lives, etc. And they need to be in my toy-filled living room as I suck back my
second third cup of coffee after a sleepless night. I need them to remind me that life exists outside of pacifiers, diapers, and onesies. I’m so thankful for the friends in my life — even when our seasons of life don’t match up. They challenge me, sharpen me, encourage me, and support me. I hope I do the same for them.
So, young mom who is the “first,” don’t fret. There will be some hard moments and some sacrifices made along the way. But don’t give up your kid-less friends. It will take work, but those relationships matter and are worth intentionally growing and developing.
And kid-less friends? I love you. Thank you for cheering me along even when your experiences haven’t looked like mine. Thanks for letting me bring a baby to our coffee dates, and letting me cry about things like mastitis and nap schedules. At the end of the day, we just need each other.