I just read an article, which I initially thought was oozing with sarcasm, only to get to the end and discover it was genuinely written!
The article: To My Friends Who Became Mothers Before Me
In brief, the author basically writes an apology letter about how she, a non-mother at the time, should have been more considerate towards her mom friends and apologizes for unloading her problems onto them.
“I’m sorry I ever uttered the words ‘I’m so tired’ in your presence; I had no idea what tired really means.”
“I’m sorry I called you crying about my single girl drama when you had babies and toddlers and husbands needing you 24/7. I know now that talking on the phone when you have small children is pure torture; I don’t know how or why you made time to listen.”
“I’m sorry for not shutting up when you were sleep deprived. I didn’t know what it does to your attention span. I should have sat with you in silence and rubbed your feet.”
“Thank you for standing by me through my self-absorbed years while you wiped butts and scrubbed vomit and soothed screaming babies and forgot about yourself while I obsessed over totally meaningless things.”
This piece was written in complete earnest and based on the comments that followed (“Perfect. I wish I had done more for my mommy friends before I had my own.” “Hit a nerve! Thank you for articulating the feelings in my heart.” “I love it! More friends and family should read this.”) I think I’m in the minority among those who feel somewhat offended that those who aren’t mothers couldn’t possibly understand what real stress feels like or that the problems we face are petty in comparison to what mothers experience. This piece makes light of the problems of childless people, undermining whatever life events or issues that might be going on with someone that isn’t a mother, and puts mothering (I’d like to say parenthood in general, but this particular article definitely had a focus on mothers) on an undeserved pedestal.
Am I now to expect that my friendships with my mommy friends to be one-sided and that we should expect meaningful/meaningless dichotomy corresponding to mother/non-mother? That’s not what my friendships were like before and although I’m fully aware that the dynamics are different and priorities change I just don’t see how a friendship (or any kind of relationship, for that matter) could be healthily sustained if it’s just one-way.
This piece also hit a nerve with me because it’s like becoming a mother is the be-all and end-all of life. It worries me sometimes when a mother becomes so consumed with her child that her child/ren becomes her identity. When I talk to my friends, as much as I like hearing about the going-ons with their child, what I’d rather know and talk about is what’s going on with THEM, what’s going on in their head – is that too much to ask?
I was speaking to another childless friend about this issue and it seems I’m not alone in wondering how to go ahead with friendships with new moms. Said friend actually googled “How to be friends when your close friend is now a mother”, and laugh as you may, but this is a real problem and actual search results showed up! In case you’re wondering the articles pretty much said:
-Put your friendship on hold until the baby is older
-With kids, fake it til you make it –> Pick up, and play pretend with the kid even if you feel awkward. Investing in your friends’ kids is a way to show your support for their decisions and a way to remain close to them.
-Communicate –> If you feel like you’re losing your friend, tell her. (I can’t say I’m the best at communicating…In all honesty I’d probably go to tip #1 if I felt like I was losing a friend)
-Be willing to let go –> *tear*
With 85% of my close friends being new moms/pregnant I’m left to wonder what will happen to my friendships as my friends continue to bond over their similar lifestyles while I’m left behind in the pre-historic childless group.
I can’t say I’m generally a fan of things written by The Daily Mail but I enjoyed reading this (good for both parents and non-parents alike): Hello baby, goodbye friends: How having children tests friendships
Welcome – your thoughts