This post is specifically geared towards those of you who do not have children. If you are a mommy, pass this along to those friends who don’t have kids as a “must read”.
When your friend decided to have kids, she did not really know what she was getting herself into. As much as she wanted life to stay the same in your friendship, it could not. She imagined your friendship would not change, but she hadn’t accounted for the serious needs of supervision, the exhaustion, or the lack of funds. Baby rules your friend’s world, and Baby now makes the decisions. And if baby number two came to be, you can guarantee your friendship will dwindle away unless you take your friendship seriously enough to follow the steps below. It’s not that your mommy friend doesn’t care about you, but there isn’t anything more important than the baby. The baby needs to be her number one priority, just like you were in your mother’s life. That’s how the human species survives, because mommies take motherhood as their #1 job and role in the world.
1. When baby is first born, visit. Take an hour of your busy week to stop by and welcome the baby to the world after the family has been home a week or two and has become acclimated to their new life. There is no good reason for you to not visit. Not visiting tells your mommy friend that you don’t care. She just went through 9 months of hell where her body changed, her emotions became completely dysregulated, and then she faced the worst pain of her life. And this roller coaster hasn’t ended because her hormones are still all over the place, she is completely exhausted, and the only thing holding her sanity together is this bundle of joy. Visit her, and witness this miracle. She is excited, and even if it’s just another baby to you, it is everything to her.
2. Don’t give parenting advice. Your friend is doing the best she can. It’s really hard being a mother. There are a millions of experts out there telling her “the right way” to do something with a million counterarguments. Please don’t add to that (unless she is asking you, of course). Any advice you give just sounds like judgment. Think if someone came to your work and gave you advice on how you should do your job, not having actually ever done your job, but maybe they are educated and have seen plenty of tv shows and movies about your job. I could be wrong, but you would probably be angry and become resentful. If you have a real concern about how she is doing something, ask her for permission to talk to her about it, but give her the choice and respect the decision if she does not want to talk about it.
3. Location matters. Depending on baby’s age, it’s not easy leaving the house. Home is the best and easiest place for mommy to socialize. When baby is first born, often going to meet up for coffee or lunch is doable, but once the little one begins crawling, it’s a whole new ballgame. No place is baby proof enough for your mommy friend to have a good time. Her little one is going to become cranky if he/she is mobile and is expected to sit in a highchair more than 15 minutes. Further, it’s lots of work to pack up baby and go. The diaper bag has to be properly packed with diapers, wipes, extra outfits, snacks, toys, pacifiers, etc. And if one important item is forgotten, the whole plan can become a disaster and your mommy friend will have to leave earlier than expected. Going places can be one of the biggest ways to stress out your mommy friend. The best thing you can do is offer to bring her something from your favorite café or restaurant and spend time with her and her little one(s) at their home.
4.Sleep schedule is important. Do naps and bedtime really matter? Yes, consistency in naptime and bedtime is important. Following a schedule helps make baby and little ones feel safe. It helps regulate their emotions and effects how well they sleep. Now this schedule is somewhat flexible, but if Baby takes two naps a day, then Baby needs it. If Baby goes to bed later than supposed to, the world will survive, but it cannot be a daily thing. What this means for you as a friend of a mommy, is that activities need to happen around naptime and bedtime scheduling. Know that your ideas will get shut down if they aren’t planned with nap and bedtime in mind. Be understanding if your friend cannot make it to something or has to leave early or arrive late. She’s doing the best she can do balance her family responsibilities and social life.
5. Don’t make comparisons, don’t judge, just listen. Please don’t compare your mommy friends, your family members with kids, or even celebrity parents with each other. Comparisons lead to judgment and harsh expectations. Society already places so many unrealistic expectations on women, and motherhood is no exception. Each family has it’s own style, it’s own culture and value system, and it’s own unique set of problems. Mothers feel judged for working, for not working, for not having a clean house, for giving their kids anything that contains sugar, for letting them watch tv, and the list goes on and on. To be a good friend, all you have to do is listen and maybe give a hug or two.
In summary, if you want to keep your friendship, know that you have to accept your friend has transformed into a mother. Although she is still the same, she has grown into a guardian with a new purpose in life that takes priority over everything. Be accepting of her new role by offering empathy and just being present. Don’t take it personally when she chooses the babes over you. Instead talk to her about how you feel, and maybe come up with a way she can make something up to you. If you make the effort, she will be there for you and will be just as excited for you, should you decide to make the transformation in your life someday.