How to Balance Your New Baby and Your Old Girlfriends
See It from Her Side
Fans of TV’s Sex and the City will remember when Miranda, frazzled mom of a newborn, unbuttoned her top to breastfeed her son and shocked her childless friend Carrie—so much so that Carrie practically ran screaming from the apartment in horror.
In reality, many new moms might experience the same sort of reaction from their friends without kids.
“Some friends are going to be excited and want to be part of it—they’ll enjoy interacting with the baby and will relish the role of auntie,” says Dr. Josselson. “Others might be envious or not want to be included in baby stuff at all.”
Dr. Josselson adds that because women bond around shared interests (or shared stresses), very often a woman perceives that a friend with a new baby is preoccupied and no longer has an interest in the things she once did—and the friend without a child may feel left behind.
Alyson Saxe of Scottsdale, Arizona, is familiar with this out-of-sync feeling, as her close friend is balancing the demands of new motherhood and is “consumed” with her 6-month-old.
“My advice for other new moms is to remember that while your friends are happy to hear about your baby, they also have exciting things to share about their own lives, and want to feel like you are still interested,” says Saxe.
While you’re certain that your friend wants to hear you chat endlessly about how your baby genius was able to roll over by himself (twice!), balance out your conversations so they include more than just a blow-by-blow of your child’s day.
“When I’m talking to my friends, I try to check myself to make sure I’m not continually blathering about my son,” says Morrison. “But, because I have less time now, I’ve found that my conversations with my girlfriends are more purposeful—more thoughtful than they were before.”
While you should be sensitive to your friend’s feelings, friendship is a two-way street, and your friend must also be willing to put forth the effort.
“In any friendship there are natural ebbs and flows—sometimes one person may be more engaged with someone or something else,” says Dr. Josselson. “Unfortunately friendships can break up over jealously, because the friend no longer feels like they are a number one priority, and for whatever reason is unable to handle that.”
If your friend seems unwilling to share in any part of your new life, and—despite your best efforts—is not giving back, then you have to decide if the friendship is worth trying to salvage. You want the friends in your life to sustain you, not drain you.
No matter how your pre-baby relationships pan out, take heart—motherhood is a wonderful time to forge connections with other women who are going through the same things you are. So next time you are at the park or a mommy-and-me class, strike up a conversation with the woman next to you. She just might be ideal friend material.
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