Friends who just don’t get it (and those who do…)
Whatever age you are, you will no doubt have some friends that don’t have kids. This might be a choice, maybe they’re waiting for career or financial reasons, maybe they can’t have children. Whatever the reason, their response to your new status as a mum is going to vary widely. This can be hardest for those at the far ends of the age spectrum – older mums and younger mums – who may have a life and circle of friends for the most part without children. Surprisingly, sometimes even friends WITH kids don’t get it!
Some of them will surprise you with their caring, interest and encouragement. When I had my first baby, I had (and still have!) a group of girlfriends from high school whose lifestyles were the opposite of mine. They were all inner-city, for the most part single, modern women with hectic social lives and up-to-date knowledge of the latest night spot. I was the married mum living in the suburbs with two dogs and a picket fence (would you believe, I actually do have one of these) who often fell asleep half way through the rented DVD on a Saturday night. But despite this, they were always interested in my life, made allowances for the lack of flexibility that motherhood sometimes imposed, and would tell me I was looking great even if I’d dragged out an old pair of jeans and plain old black jumper. What awesome friends!
It’s not all slaps on the back and warm fuzzies though. I have other friends who I used to lunch or coffee with at least once a week who no longer call me, have never met my kids, and can’t even remember their names.
At the end of the day, try not to make their issue your issue. Friends support friends through new relationships and break ups, a change in job, redundancy, the death of a parent, moving house, and moving city. So a new baby in your life shouldn’t be any different. There are things you can do to ease the strangeness in your friendship.
- Make an effort to meet her on her turf – get into the city for a lunch during the week in a baby friendly café, get your partner or a babysitter to watch the baby while you go out in the evening for a couple of hours.
- Try and talk about things other than the all consuming subject of your new amazing baby that you can’t believe you love so much.
- And remind yourself how you used to think about parents before you were one!
But a real friendship is a joint undertaking, so if you’re willing to make an effort for her, it’s not unreasonable to expect the same back. And if she’s not prepared to make any allowances for your change of lifestyle, or at least make pretence of being interested in your little tyke, maybe the season of your friendship has passed. Some people can play a hugely important role at a particular time of your life, and fade to the background at others. I try to accept this as life, remember the great times with a smile, and seek out people who do accept this exciting new phase of my life.
Don’t discount other mums in terms of filling this gap. Remember they were people with a full life outside of kids too. You might discover small things in common beyond babies that can be a stepping stone, or even just a stop gap. An upside is that being a mum is a huge connection with others. I’m quite shy and find it hard to talk to people I don’t know – but put me in a room with another Mum and we can yak away for an hour at a time! No-one else understands how utterly fascinating your little darling is like another parent.