Sometimes you've gotta meet in the middle. Sometimes you've gotta meet at a bar!
When I became a mom, my friends were pretty split in terms of who had kids and who didn’t. And some friendships ended pretty quickly after I had Lucy—we just weren’t able to connect, and I found myself getting angry at some non-mom friends who didn’t understand just how much my life had changed. I found that other friendships adapted, as I made room in my life for mom friends, who became my lifeline the whole first year of Lucy’s life.
Now that Lucy is two and a half, and I’ve adapted to motherhood—and become a lot more comfortable hiring babysitters—I wish I hadn’t been so quick to write off some of my non-mom friends who I assumed “didn’t understand.” Maybe they didn’t, but maybe I wasn’t being very charitable or realizing where they were coming from. After all, does anyone really want to talk about spit up and sleep schedules? I wish I’d stopped focusing so much on how my life had changed and focused more on what was going on in their life. Not only that, but I was the non-mom friend for so long, and I really quickly forgot what I would have liked. I wish I hadn’t! With that said, here are some ways I’ve found to keep your non-mom friends close, even as you’re consumed by your own crazy parenting journey.
Get a babysitter. It’s expensive, and it can be nerve-wracking. But showing up to a birthday or big-deal event means a lot. If you absolutely can’t ….
Make a gesture. Call the restaurant ahead of time and order a bottle of champagne. Send flowers. When you have a baby, especially a brand new baby, it’s so easy to lose track of everything else that’s going on in the world. But if they, say, are having a thirtieth or fortieth or other big deal birthday, making a gesture, even if you can’t appear in person, is really thoughtful.
Don’t say “you wouldn’t understand.” I’m guilty of this, even though it used to drive me nuts before I had kids! They may not have children, but they have nieces, nephews, or neighbors. They’ve been a kid themselves. Sometimes, hearing a non-parent perspective can be useful. And even if it’s not, resist the urge to say this!
Let them get to know your baby. Let them hold your baby, play with your baby, and take them up on babysitting offers! You may think that accepting it is inconveniencing them, but in my opinion, if they offer, it’s because they truly want to get to know your child, and if you say no, they may think it’s because you don’t trust them.
Ask how they’re doing. Talk dates or husbands or work issues. And listen. If you can’t talk because of a kid crisis, call back. Text if you know they’re having a big day at work or a major date or are freaking out wedding planning. It makes a difference.
Talk to them. If they want to hear how it’s going, let them know. Tell them if you’re confused or upset or have no idea how this motherhood thing works. The more real you are with them, the more your relationship stays the same. Babies are weird! Friendship changes are weird! Talk about it!
How about you? How do you make sure to keep your non-mom friends close in your life?