Before I became a mom, I tried my best to support my friends with kiddos. I fawned over baby pictures, delivered enchiladas to mamas who lived nearby, and sent boxes of diapers and the occasional check-in text to far-flung friends. Because I wasn’t yet interested in having kids, I was oblivious to the challenges of new motherhood: the mind-numbing exhaustion of sleep deprivation, the emotional roller coaster of caring for a tiny human and attempting to care for yourself, the sheer loneliness of it all. I even pulled back from some relationships, assuming mom was too busy with her newborn to keep in touch with boring old me. (Wow, was I wrong.)
Flash forward a few years. Now I’m the new mom, wrestling with breastfeeding issues and recovering from a C-section. Cradling my sweet baby in my arms, my heart swelled with love so big it scared me. This was motherhood was like? Why didn’t anyone tell me about this? Maybe they wanted to, but I didn’t ask the right questions! In between feedings, I texted a dear mom friend my confession: “Girl, I’m sorry I didn’t reach out more when your son was a baby – I thought you were too busy. I didn’t want to bother you. I just…had no idea what it was like.” Thankfully, she responded with grace.
Staying in touch with friends when you’re in different life stages can be tough, but a little understanding and empathy goes a long way. So, in the spirit of open communication, I surveyed some fellow mamas about their friendships. Here are some things we want our childless friends to know about us.
I still care about you
“I want my friends that don’t have children to know I’m thinking about them and care about what’s going on in their lives, even though I can’t seem to find the time to catch up on the phone or in person!” – Jennifer T.
“Although it is very apparent that my priorities have totally changed, I will never be too busy to want to know what’s going on in their lives. I still want to know about the Tinder dates, the annoying boss at work, etc. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to find the time to remember to ask, but I love being kept up to date on things that are important to them!” – Allison O.
“I’m still there to love and support them just as always – just please have grace and patience if I’m slow to show it or in responding.” – Sarah H.
I still want to be invited out
“Even though I can’t always come to social events, I still want to be invited.” – Katie E.
“I might not be able to stay out as long as I used to with a newborn! Being a new mom and trying to figure all the logistics of breastfeeding and diaper changes in public is overwhelming in the beginning. The idea of being out for an entire day without a bit of privacy is a bit much! I would love to be invited and not judged when I don’t stay for six hours.” – Sarah W.
“Making time to hang out can be a challenge, but please don’t stop asking me.” – Megan R.
If we make plans, know this…
“Living around baby’s sleep schedule is extremely hard, and I’m no happier about it than my childless friends must be. But getting a last-minute text that we should meet up just won’t work, as good as the intention is.” – Sarah J.
“It has a greater impact when we do have plans and [you] cancel or change abruptly or unexpectedly for no reason. It took a lot of coordination to get out childless, and it’s not as easy to reschedule for a different time.” – Meagan E.
“As much as I love my son, I don’t *always* want to bring him along to our social events. I’d like to know that they still want to spend time with me, not just for a chance to hold the baby.” – Brittany H.
Ask me about my kids
“I want my childless friends to know that them showing interest in my child would mean the world to me. I enjoy the limited time I have with my daughter, and it would make me so happy to know they want to take an interest in how she’s growing as well.” – Jeni A.
Ask me about myself
“I wish they knew how great it is to still be recognized as a person separate from my child. It’s a hard adjustment learning who you are post-baby, and when all anyone asks about is how baby is doing it can make it feel really lonely. Moms go through so much transition during pregnancy, labor, and adjustment to being a parent and often times it seems people forget that you’re still all the things you used to be, in addition to being a mom to a precious new life.” – Brenna M.
A couple notes on childcare
“I wish people knew to ask permission or check in with the parents. We’re very intentional about the language we use with our daughter, we don’t let her look at screens, we are in charge of when and how we introduce foods to her (someone offered her a french fry at 5 months!). As her parents, we love her a ton and we put a lot of care, intentionality, and thought into how we raise her. Please do us the courtesy of checking in with us before assuming you know what is or isn’t OK for our kid.” – Desirée R.
“I wish they knew how helpful it is to change a diaper or give the baby a bottle. Everyone wants to come over and hold the baby when they’re being sweet, but it was such a treat when a handful of friends would say, “Don’t worry, I got it,” and change his diaper and feed him! Extra bonus points for the ones who knew to stand and bounce him when he started crying instead of all but throwing him back to me. Sitting for an hour is such an incredible luxury when you’re a new mom.” – Jessie B.
Most of all, I still need you
“I definitely wish my childless friends knew how broken and scared I was in the beginning. I’m usually the independent, make-you-laugh, give-you-tough-love friend, but nothing was funny to me and I was the opposite of strong when I first had my son. I needed them to let me off the hook for telling funny birth stories and just let me cry on their shoulder even if they didn’t understand.” – Kaitlin T.
“Motherhood can be so lonely, especially when your closest friends aren’t in the mama boat with you. Just because I had a baby doesn’t mean the person I was before just completely died. I still need my girlfriends!” – Kat P.