Dear New Mum : You’re about to be De-friended
Strapline: Dealing with your childless friends after you get your baby can be hard.
Virginia tells me she feels abandoned. Ever since she had her baby last February, she’s had this anxiety and dread that she’s all alone. That the world has been going on fine without her, her who has been indoors on most of all days nursing her newborn. Her birth partner, who was also her maid of honour, hasn’t called or visited since she came home from hospital. “She’d later tell me she was giving me space to be.” Virginia, 29, says. “She said she didn’t know how to be of any help to me. She’s 31. Single, no baby.” This rejection was tough for Virginia, but in retrospect she says she could see where her friend was coming from.
Motherhood (especially for a new mum) does that to people. It isolates them. It isolates you from your friends and it isolates your childless friends from you. Your newborn separates you both like the Berlin Wall. There are no ill-intentions or any conscious decisions behind it. It is simply an inevitable consequence to motherhood.
For the first three to six months of her baby’s life, a mother operates in a little club of mums like herself. A support group, if you may, where she exchanges parenting tips and my-baby-did-what-when tales with her new ‘friends’. And guess what? This acquaintance matures into an easy bond. One she confides in. Her childless friends look on, uncertain of where to fit in this club.
Go out into the ‘real world’ of your previous relationships and it’s a different kettle of fish altogether. You look on and tell yourself the same thing: ‘I don’t fit here. This is no longer my scene’. You will be bored. You will probably say something insensitive. Or they will say something you think is shallow. And you will bolt back to your baby at the first chance you get.
There is no need cloaking the crux of this matter: the new mum will lose several of her old childless friends along her journey of motherhood. It’s part of the natural process of growing up and growing apart. Your common ground has shrunk. Your idea of fun is miles apart. Your purposes differ.
Here’s an example: your best days are those you spend making your baby happy. Hers are those she spends making herself happy. As a new mum struggling to find the balance between baby and other facets of life, you envy your childless friend for her freedom of choice. Yet on the other end of this stick, she envies you for your new-found purpose and fulfillment. It’s oddly fascinating, isn’t it?
But it’s also OK.
Give each other the space to be who you both are and to like it. Like it without feeling any guilt. Or as if you are being judged for your choices. On the sunnier side of things, this separation is temporary. You will be the first one she calls the moment she learns she is pregnant. You wait and see. No need for you to wait by the phone though – run along and tend to your baby now.
Related: The 5 friends you Need in your Life