From Childless to Baby on Board: Holding on to Your Childless Friends
I remember being a first time mom. Years of babysitting, being the oldest and watching my mom and my friends’ moms mother their children prepared me in many ways for taking on the task of caring for a baby of my own. The one thing all that stored up experience and observing didn’t prepare me for was how my friendships might change; both for the better and the worse.
While I wasn’t the first among my circle of friends to have a baby, I definitely wasn’t the last. I had a few friends who didn’t have children yet. These friends were finishing up their college degrees, living the single life and dating while I was navigating breastfeeding, night classes at the community college, and learning how to be a wife and mom all at the same time.
To say the least, we couldn’t relate to each other and our different life paths. It was a struggle though that I’ve learned has shaped how my current friendships have formed, how past friendships have failed and how female friendships in general are a necessary part of our happiness and overall success as women.
I asked a few blogging moms what their experience with childless friends was like. Nearly all of those who responded reported a lack of understanding from their childless friends as well as a lack of support. The shift in priorities and life changes can cause a woman’s friendships to take a backseat to her new role as a mom.
Shannan Powell author of "From Cribs to Car Keys" agrees that friends don’t always get the change of becoming a mom, “Many of my friends just didn't understand that I couldn't drop everything whenever there was something fun to do. I had to plan ahead, if I was able to go at all.”
Randi Lee from If You Can’t Say Something Nice stated, “I wish they (childless friends) would have been more supportive and interested” when it came to her becoming a mom. It can be hard for a childless friend to be supportive when they don’t understand what you, as a mom are going through. Randi adds “once a few of them had children, they apologized to me which was nice.”
While it may seem that your former friendships are headed for the diaper pail, there are some action steps you can take.
Making Friends a Priority
If you’re struggling to find a common ground with your childless gal pals, it might be necessary to take control of the situation and start by inviting them to your side of the baby gate.
Angela England from The Many Hats suggests that while it can be difficult to plan or arrange outings, still invite them over. You can plan an evening in with the girls to just get together and chat, watch movies, have coffee, or even make your house the place to go for the weekly viewing of your favorite television shows.
Good Friends are Forever
Kara Myers states that “with my friends who respected my parenting choices & that parenting was a different ballgame, our friendship did not change at all!” Keep in mind that you don’t have to change after the baby comes. You likely still have the same taste in music, books, and entertainment. Good friends will help you keep the “pre-baby” you alive.
Likewise, don’t forget that in return for getting a good friend, you need to be a good friend. Kara adds, “I don’t just talk about my baby, either...I am always sure to ask about her life.”
From my 14 years of being a mom, I’ve learned that in order for my friendships to stay strong, it’s an effort that needs to come from both sides. A friend that wants to stay in your life will make an effort to be there for you, even as your life roles change. However, It’s just as important for you to do the same. Make your friends part of your new life and talk openly about any concerns you have.
A woman’s friends are often said to be stronger than any substance, natural or man-made. However, it’s up to us, as women and moms to nourish those friendships through the many changes life hands us.