We Are Both Right

Our Two Cents: New Mom, Old Friends

new mom friends

When old friends don't fit a new life, do you hang on or let go? ©Hilde Vanstraelen/stock.xchng

Dear Suzanne and Amanda:

With the exception of me, my closest friends from college are still very much single and unattached. And ever since I had my son in March, I feel left out.

I just can’t keep up with their nights out anymore and it seems like everything they do is a bad fit for me now. It’s not that I expect them to hang out in my living room for late night feedings. At the same time I can’t gear up for a weekly bar crawl either, nor would I consider that time well spent away from my baby.

If they would just do dinner or something easy I would be happy to join them once and a while for two hours and feel connected. I still consider them friends but I feel like we’re living on opposite poles.

What do you think? Have we grown too far apart, or is there still a way to find some common ground?

–New Mom, Old Friends

Suzanne: I can understand why you don’t want to give up on these friends so easily. They’re your girls — the ones who probably saw you through lots of ups and downs, relationship dramas, road trips, apartments, etc. But the reality is that sometimes friends just grow apart, for reasons exactly like you explained. You are at different stages of life and the pieces just don’t fit. No matter how hard you try.

That’s not to say that you have to put a permanent end to these friendships. But maybe you just let them cool off for a while, staying in touch as much as you can but skipping the socializing. Then maybe some day, if you find yourself on more even ground (either they are less footloose and fancy free and/or you are more available for an occasional night on the town), you can pick up where you left off. For the time being, it would be good for you to branch out and find other new moms in your area who might turn into friends someday too.

Without knowing if you are in your 20s or 30s, I can’t say if you will take my word for it that this plan can work. But I have enough years and experience behind me to know that friendships (good friendships) can take a chill for ten years or longer and fall right back into place, like time stood still.

At the least, don’t feel like you have to confront your friends or beg them to accommodate you. Maybe the best thing you can do is let them continue at their pace, until you find a time when you see an opening to jump back on board.

Amanda: It’s an interesting phenomena — at least it was for me. As soon as I saw that first double line on the pregnancy test I suddenly became a homebody (not that I was this huge partier to begin with), content to sit on the couch and watch television. And once my son was actually born, I became even more interested in what was going on inside my house rather than outside of it.

I think this was partly because of all of my friends, I was the first one to have a child. If there were plans made, no one necessarily knew how to accommodate me and my son — myself included. Not only was I not yet comfortable nursing in public (I used to go into another room), I wasn’t confident in my abilities as a mom — not that my childless friends would have known any better, but any time my son would cry or spit up or do something that babies do I’d become super self-conscious that everyone would think I was totally clueless (and let’s face it, I was!).

Suzanne is right though, despite my self-imposed banishment, in time, when I got more comfortable being a mom and my friends caught up by having babies of their own, the playing field became level again and our friendships were renewed and stronger than ever.

Still, it sounds like you are missing your friends right now, if not the method in which they have fun. So be proactive. Instead of waiting for them to come up with plans that will accommodate you and your new little one, invite them over or out to dinner on your terms. Bring up the elephant in the room, acknowledging that while your socializing habits have changed, you’d still like to see them once in a while. Chances are if you miss them, they miss you too!

And in the meantime, start looking for other friends who are on the same plane as you family-wise. Check out your local library or community center to see if there are any programs for young children (many start from birth) where the moms are also encouraged to forge friendships. You could also try looking for online birth clubs — I know both Suzanne and I have made quite a few mommy friendships that originated through message boards.

Having fellow mommy friends will give you an important support group — these are people who understand how it is entirely possible that you haven’t brushed your hair or teeth since Wednesday and will completely understand your obsession with the contents and color of your son’s diaper and what they could possibly mean.

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How did your friendships change when you had kids? What advice would you offer New Mom?

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