Maintaining friendships after having a baby is hard. Scratch that, maintaining friendships after any major life event is hard. Whether it’s getting married, graduating, moving, starting a new job, (or in my case all of the above.) As life evolves so do the people in it.
After I had just given birth to my daughter, I felt so isolated. I certainly didn’t fit in with the “typical moms” who had multiple kids, a successful husband, & a beautiful home. But I also didn’t fit in with the people I was surrounded by everyday at school who only had to focus on their classes, maybe a part time job, & what type of beer they wanted at the bar. And my friends from my past? No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t come up with something to talk about with them because our lives were now on such different paths.
It’s one thing to be a 21-year-old mom, but it’s a whole other ball game when you & your boyfriend are still students, you’re not married nor have a steady income, and your baby was a complete surprise . Who wants a friend who doesn’t have any of their sh*t together?
I would try to put myself out there & schedule play dates, or “mom dates,” as I like to call them. After all, our babies usually slept the whole time while we babbled on about how many poops they took that day, or shared the best remedies for getting boogers out of tiny noses. But I could never get past the initial "first date” because I couldn’t stand the fact that the entire encounter was me putting on a huge facade in order to avoid the harsh reality of my not-so-stable life.
“Yeah, my husband & I were together for two years before I got pregnant,” I would say, lying about the fact that I had only known him for 5 months prior. Oh, & that he’s not actually my husband yet .
“Where did we meet? At school-- we had a class together.” This lie was mainly because I didn’t know if they would understand the phrase “I slid into his DM’s on Twitter.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the long strolls in the park where I could forget about my broke-college-student-mom situation for about an hour or so. But the truth would set in on my way home as I would slide the $6 fake wedding ring from Claire’s off of my finger, to stow it away for the next mom-date. Yes– you read that right. As embarrassed as I am to admit it today, I actually took the time to purchase a fake ring to wear around people, so that I would decrease my chances of being judged.
Looking back on those days I still can’t wrap my head around why I was convinced that any friends I had, had to be on the same page as me in life. I assumed we all needed to be in the same place- having kids, going to school, getting married etc. Apparently I didn’t realize that my situation wasn’t the most common in the world, so the chances of me finding a friend exactly like me were slim to none.
What I’ve come to realize over the last year is that the people who are really your friends are going to be your friends no matter what situation you’re in, or how different your life is from theirs. Friendships aren’t only about having common grounds with one another. Sure, having similar interests make it easier to relate & always provide a topic of conversation. But once you have handed them that "friend" label, a real friend will not only accept your life & all of the challenges, triumphs & changes that come with it, but they will embrace it & make themselves a part of it in one way or another.
I am truly honored to have the type of friends that I do in my life. Some are new & some are old. Heck, some are even internet friends who I have never even met in person before. We all have our separate lives & different things going on. We may not talk or see each other every day, or even every week. But we all make a serious effort to be a part of each others lives. We recognize the importance of listening & encouraging one another as our lives veer off into different directions. We are supportive in everything, even if it’s something we don’t understand. We make sacrifices & compromises for our friendships. We do things for each other to show our appreciation, even if it’s a random text or phone call to let them know they were on our mind.
Growing up is hard, and major life changes make it even harder. Be sure to recognize the friends who stick by your side through it all; and be especially appreciative of the ones who will laugh with you when you admit that you actually used to wear a fake wedding ring!