Sunday, July 17, 2016

Do’s and Don’ts for My Friends Without Kids

Do’s and Don’ts for My Friends Without Kids

I was late to the game on this whole mom thing. More than fifteen years elapsed between my first friend having a baby and the birth of my own, so I very much understand what life is like on both sides of motherhood. As a single lady, I witnessed all of the glowing new parents and blissfully sleeping babies and thought life just looked like a Pampers commercial. As a friend to many new moms, I did many things wrong simply because I didn’t realize that becoming a mother is both wonderful and really hard.  

So for those of you without kids, those wondering if you should visit, or bemoaning the end of a friendship since this Mom person replaced your Friday night drinking buddy, here are some helpful hints that will help you navigate the strange world that comes when babies start popping up all over.

Do… show up. You are not required to drop everything and rush to the side of every casual acquaintance but, if your close friend has spawned and it is feasible (i.e. driving distance), you ask when they are ready for visitors and then you go. Remember every time you’ve been excited about someone new you were dating and wanted to show him/her off to your friends? Well, what new moms feel for those little balls of goo they have just birthed reaches a hormone-fueled frenzy roughly 1000X the level of “new boyfriend” excitement. Add on the fact that the transition to motherhood is REALLY HARD and very unlike idyllic commercials, and your mom friend not only wants to show off her kid, but she probably really needs some company.

And I know this isn’t always easy. In my late twenties I had baby fever badly and had just gone through a very messy break up. Going to hold my friends’ babies usually resulted in a ride home that involved a lot of tears and a bucket of chicken. But they were my friends, and when your good friends have babies, you just fucking show up. It is that simple. 

Don’t… let her become that person who will only hang out with you if you put in all the effort. Babies are portable, especially after the first 3-6 months, and we can bring them to you sometimes, too. Or, leave them with dad or try to find a sitter. The bottom line is that if I am making our friendship into one devoid of fun where you sit on my couch and watch me fold laundry once a month, find a nice way to drag my ass out of the house. If I refuse, find a not nice way.

Do… Understand that poop will be interesting for a while. And really, unless you’ve had a baby, you can’t have any concept of how much the entire household’s sanity can hinge upon on your kid’s successful digestion. Some of us new moms live and die by poop. Seriously, don’t mock this. Poop might be the reason your friend is so exhausted that your gentle teasing makes her cry.

Don’t… Let her get away with talking about poop at meals, in bars, or for more than 5 minutes straight. And once that kid is walking around, we should probably stop talking about his bowel movements as part of normal discourse anyway. Be my friend and very nicely remind me that poop is not something normal people want to hear/talk about.

Do… Respond with the appropriate fawning over the first few pictures a new mom sends/shares those first few months. We are so in love, and we want you to love our little one, too. So even if his head is all pointy and he looks kind of green, you tell us how gorgeous he is.

Don’t… Feel like you must like, comment, or respond to that 30th picture posted yesterday. In fact, if a few weeks have passed and you start to wonder how someone is managing to care for a baby when they spend so much time posting pictures on Facebook, you should likely stop responding to them all together for a while. We will get the point.

Do... Understand that your friend has a new normal, and might struggle to find interest in things that she used to love. For the first few months at least, grabbing a drink might pale in comparison to the possibility of a nap. Be patient, it will get better. 

Don't... Let me or anyone else insinuate that moms have a corner on certain states of being, like tired or stressed. I hated that shit before I had a kid and it is no less annoying now. Yes, you can be tired if you don't have kids. Yes, you get to talk to your friends about it. If you ever get "ha, wait until you have kids. THEN you will know tired," you best call me on that. Immediately. And, dude, moms, can we all just agree to stop saying this to people? 

Do… Ask how her kid is and know that, with a baby, things that sound totally stupid and unimportant are critical. So little Johnny slept for four hours, or rolled over, or blew spit bubbles? Yeah, it sounds like nothing, but to a new mom, it can be incredible.

Don’t… Let me get away with not asking about and taking interest in your life. It’s easy to let the rest of the world become background noise when you’ve just had a baby. I relied on my good friends to help remind me of the fact that, not only was the world still turning, but the people I cared about had really important shit going on, too.

I hear people talk a lot about friends they used to have before the kid came along. I’ve had a few of those myself over the years. Some of them fell away because they weren’t really that good a friend to start with and the baby called that out. Some of them fell away because I didn’t understand what life was like with a baby and was, thus, a shitty friend.

But babies don’t mean you have to give up life with your friend, just adapt it a bit. Use these simple dos and don’ts, and your friend’s tiny new ball of goo will add something to your life without swallowing your relationship. 

3 comments:

  1. Great post. I like your honesty. I will keep this in mind the next time all my cousin does is brag about her kids and doesn't talk about anything or anyone else.

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  2. Ha! Good luck. Sometimes kids just brings out the self centered in people, but gentle nudging can be a good thing.

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  3. LOL! It's funny because it's true. I have 4 littles...well mostly not so little anymore, and it's an epic journey, but so fraught with so many ups and downs that I realize I didn't know what it meant to live until the real challenges appeared.

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