How to Balance Your New Baby and Your Old Girlfriends
You used to sip martinis with your girlfriends at happy hour, could take off for a weekend getaway on a moment’s notice, and spent hours on the phone counseling friends through their latest love life crises.
These days, martinis are a distant memory, you have to find a babysitter to go anywhere, and your phone conversations are often cut short when your newest family member demands your immediate attention.
Assess Your Friendships
Motherhood changes your priorities, your outlook—and even your friendships. If you are the first in your circle of friends to have a child, you may begin to feel disconnected from your old sisterhood. Suddenly, the women you used to see eye-to-eye with have no idea what you are going through, and you no longer relate to their day-to-day lives. You may need to decide who you’ll go the extra mile to maintain ties with, even when your life is more hectic.
Odette Faghani of San Francisco, California, says this disconnection happened to her when she had her son, now two. “My friends without kids were either women who didn’t have children and didn’t want them or women who were not childless by choice and were reminded of that fact by my baby,” says Faghani. Because neither situation was very comfortable, Faghani says the relationships eventually fizzled after a few awkward lunch dates.
Susan Jackson of Cincinnati, Ohio, had similar experiences after she had her daughter. “Some of my friends without kids seemed almost threatened when I announced my pregnancy, and there was an immediate cooling off,” says Jackson. “I felt like I was being phased out.” So, are the friendships with your childless friends doomed to dwindle into eventual extinction? Not necessarily, says sociologist and friendship expert Dr. Ruthellen Josselson, PhD, coauthor of the book Best Friends—though she says that maintaining any relationship, romantic or platonic, requires effort.
“There needs to be a shared understanding between both friends that one of them becoming a mother is a shift, and that things will definitely be changing,” says Dr. Josselson. “Some friendships have a natural expiration date, but if you have a dear friend that you care deeply about, you should make it clear that the relationship is important to you and that you want it to continue.”
Remember the Little Things
You’ve taken stock of what friendships are important to you, and you want to make it clear to those women that you still want them to be part of your life. But how can you show your friends you care when you can hardly find time to shower, especially in those first hectic months of motherhood?
Though it seems obvious, tell the friends you love that you value their friendships and want them in your life. And don’t discount the little things, says Lauren Esleeck, who is single with no children but has several friends with kids. “Even if you can’t call and talk for 45 minutes, but you have five minutes, just call to say hello,” says Esleeck.
That’s what Genma Stringer Holmes, mom of three in Nashville, Tennessee, did to stay connected to her girlfriends when her children were young; she carved out time on the weekends for check-in phone calls. Holmes had her first child when she was 20 and was balancing a marriage, night school, and a full-time job.
Because Holmes, now 40, made her friendships a priority, she is still in close contact with those same girlfriends today—many of whom are now moms to young kids while Holmes’ children are in high school and college.
“So we’re still in different worlds,” laughs Holmes. “They’re dealing with diapers and Gymboree, and I’m way past that—but I think it is healthy to have women in your life who are of all different backgrounds and stages and perspectives. I think it makes you a more well-rounded person.”
If you just can’t seem to find time to pick up the phone, send your friend a card or short handwritten note—or next time you’re up for that 2 AM feeding, write a quick email to let your friend know you’re thinking of her.
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