I’ve read so many articles, written by moms, where they profess massive apologetic outbursts for ‘losing themselves’ in the first year of their child’s life and for being ‘bad friends’ during that time. And every single time I read something like that I get more and more pissed off. Because I call bullshit. Because – and it took me a while to realise this – but the demise of a friendship after one of you becomes a parent is in fact (gasp) not always the new moms fault.
When Carter was born, and in fact during my pregnancy, I tried my hardest to prove that I hadn’t changed as a person. I became the martyr of “normal-dom” and insisted on being at all the dinners and events. I sipped my alcohol free beer and sparking water and made chit chat until the last guests had left, even though many times I as so dog tired I wanted to cry. I had dinners and arranged get togethers and had people visit my home and watched them get drunk and silly and had fun while doing it.
The night after my son was born I had (non mom) friends visit with fancy red wine and cheese and we giggled in my hospital room until the nurses kicked them out.
When he was a tiny week old infant we had friends for diner and we drank champagne and I burnt the food and it didn’t matter because we were doing this. We were being parents and friends and adults and functioning members of society.
When he was a few weeks old I went back to gym – with him in tow – and met people for lunch – with him in tow again – and enjoyed every last second of my maternity leave while I could.
When he was 3 months old I went on my annual girls trip – willingly – and loved every second of it – despite my overweight body and leaking breasts.
We’ve been to friends houses for lunch and ended up staying until early hours of the next morning – with our son sleeping on a duvet nest in the room next door. We’ve gone away and strapped his car to game vehicles using cable ties and a prayer. We’ve traveled overseas with him, rocked him to sleep in fancy restaurants and bathed him in sinks and basins and Jacuzzis at braais.
And now he’s almost two, and I’ve barely dropped the ball. I’ve yet to use him as an excuse for not participating, and on the few instances I’ve left a function early to put him to sleep or arrived a little bit late because he has a routine I’ve chosen to ignore the comments and eye rolls. In fact, the reason I sometimes do decline an invite is because I’m working too hard. Which when you are child-less is heroic, but when you’re a mom is an excuse.
But I’ve also come to a realisation that some friendships have changed – friendships that I thought were rock solid. And I have spent the better part of nearly two years trying harder and making more effort and saying ‘yes’ to girls nights. And the more I tried the more disconnected I’ve felt and it’s taken all of this time to realize that I have actually done nothing wrong. And that sometimes people with no kids do not want to spend time with people with kids. And that is actually OK.
I haven’t been invited to some friends houses since the day Carter was born. I haven’t cracked the nod for an after work glass of wine or a holiday or a movie or been called for advice. Because I think that some people think that we change, and they immediately assume we will have no time for them. And perhaps we don’t, all the time, but we do some of the time, and even though my life is more structured and more-often-than-not revolves around a school run, a bath time, a feeding or a nap, and I cant just do a lot of the things I used to do pre-baby, on a whim anymore, I’m still here, and available. Even if I’m sometimes I’m only available with a plus one. And I can promise you this much, if you need me, when you need me, I will always be there. Because I am still the good same person that you fell in friendship love with all those years ago.
So to the new friends with kids who just understand broken conversation, broken sleep and broken wine glasses at dinner parties, but who welcome us anyway, I say thank you. To the friends with no kids who totally get that sometimes I just cant get out, but who come to me with wine and pizza and who bath my child while I pour more booze, I say thank you. And to the friends with no kids who don’t come to me, or let me in, or invite me over please know that I haven’t changed. I still drink as much Merlot (if not more), I still talk shit and love being social, I have interests and careers and things to talk about that I can promise you are not even close to baby related, I still need your advice and and shoulder to lean on and to bitch about husbands and work and finances. I just now have a small human, who I call my son, who is now the best part of my life. And I hope one day you will see me not just as another mom, but also as Kate, your friend.