Motherhood has changed many things for me. One of the most significant changes has been my relationships with others. I am much closer to my mother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, aunts and grandmother now. I can easily form a bond with a new friend who is a mother. And sadly, my relationships with my non-mommy friends have struggled.
Before Beatrice, my life's focus was to honor God in my marriage, workplace, and friendships. Then I had a baby. Everything changes when you have a baby. My focus became honoring God in my marriage and not screwing up the biggest responsibility He has ever bestowed upon me. I lost my focus on maintaining good friendships along the way. Most of my friends have accepted my new focus and waited patiently for the busyness and exhaustion of parenting to subside. It does, right? But for my non-mommy friendships, a major wound has been left open and unattended to. Basically, my friendships have gangrene.
What caused this friend-rot? Me. Well, not entirely me. Beatrice is to blame too. Sorry Beatrice, mommy can't take all the heat on this one. I was by myself raising a baby and instead of reaching out and meeting my friends in their world, I expected them to come to me. And while a newborn baby is a miraculous and joyous thing, they are only interesting to single twenty-something career women for so long.
My single friends all reached out to me when JD was gone but I was too freaked out to take the baby in public for fear of germs/meltdowns/nursing in view of strangers. The more I declined, the less invitations I received. This never bothered me. My skinny clothes didn't fit for the longest time, I was sleep deprived, and staying in was easier than going out. What made things worse was that I didn't even care if anyone came to visit me. Visitors meant I had to clean my house and make sure that Beatrice and I were presentable. A phone call every now and then was enough contact with the outside world for me to feel connected. So my friends called. Sometimes I couldn't answer because I was elbow deep in a poopie diaper/nursing/showering/sleeping so I would call back when it was convenient for me. Convenient times became less and less available. So I quit calling back (unless I was having a crisis and needed to talk). The ball kept rolling until months of unreturned phone calls and declined lunch invites landed me with hurt friends who have inevitably moved on.
Part of me wants to play the victim and say "just you wait and see how hard it is to maintain anything when you have a new baby." While this is true, it's also true that it takes both parties to contribute and cultivate a relationship. The truth of the matter is, I have been a terrible friend. I have been uninterested in new boyfriends and new jobs. I haven't been supportive of accomplishments and breakthroughs. And while I haven't been self-absorbed (having a little one to care for takes care of that), I have expected everyone to be concerned with me and my situation. Ugh, I disgust myself.
Thankfully, my friends are awesome and still love me. But I am finally starting to realize the hurt I have caused by not making more of an effort to be apart of their lives. Plus, I have missed out on a lot. There have been engagements and weddings to celebrate, new jobs and new babies to look forward to. I want to be apart of those things again.
I haven't figured out the logistics of how I am going to balance motherhood and friendships with my non-mommy friends. I know that it can be done though and I am excited to try. If my friends can love me through this, they are worth the effort.