Being a part of a group or just having a few chosen people close to us at all times is how we humans are wired to function. We’re social creatures, and we need to be loved, respected and understood. When we are young it is our oldest and closest friends who become part of our little tribe, and nothing in the world is more important than the bond we share. However, with time we grown, mature and some of our priorities change.
I know of a fiery and fun-loving young woman who suddenly had to deal with the fact that she now had a little tribe of her own when we got married and had our beautiful little daughter. It was a tough time, and she needed a while to adjust, but she learned so much from the experience, and taught me a thing or two about friendship that I never knew. I’d like to share some of these little gems of wisdom that I am sure all the young moms out there will find all too familiar.
1. Overcoming new obstacles helps you see a whole other side of friend you never knew about
Measuring your friendship in years is not a very precise way of doing things, and it’s only when both you and your friends make major lifestyle changes and face new challenges that you come to understand this. Once you stop going out as much with your close friends, the little time you spend together will become precious, and you will focus only on what is truly important. Even though you may not tell them enough how much they mean to you, your friends will still keep surprising you with little things, like offering to babysit so that you and your partner can go out, and a lot of them may actually realize that they are very good with kids, even though they didn’t think they would be.
2. Making new friends can be terribly awkward, but kind of fun when you are a mom
Let’s face it, when your kids are still very small you end up bringing them along with you wherever you go. You become a team, and it’s difficult to find other moms who are interesting and have plenty in common with you. Once you do find suitable candidates, all you do is talk about poop, breastfeeding and all the cute noises your babies make. Once your kids get older, you may find that even though the mom is great, your little one might not be getting along well with the other kid, at which point it’s back to the drawing board.
3. You will pick up all kinds of new skills while trying to stay in touch with the people you love
Who would have thought that merely trying to keep in touch with your friends would require MacGyver levels of craftiness and ingenuity? When you are juggling kids, a job, all kinds of obligations and trying to find the time to talk to your friends you tend to become pretty good at a number of things. For one you learn exactly how many minutes there are in a day, and how you can fit in all your chores and plans into the little time you have, in the most effective manner. My wife learned to type incredibly fast, started using several social media platforms, become quite good at Photoshop and mastered the art of scheduling – all within the first couple of years after she gave birth to our daughter.
4. Sometimes you just need a good friend to be in the same room with you
There’s nothing worse than sitting around the house and feeling lonely. In those quiet moments when our daughter was sleeping or just playing around, and I was at work, my wife often a bit bored and lonely. Now, we did have at least one or two conversations over the phone during the day, but she would often just call one of her friends on Skype and they would both just quietly do whatever chores they needed to do or even watch a TV show together, with very few words being spoken. Just knowing that her friend was there made all the difference in the world, and that just goes to show you what a strong connection we can develop with another human being.
5. Your old friends will know who you are and how you feel even when you make big changes
You know all those little details that we share with others as we become closer? All those stories from our past, situations that influenced our development, movies and books that inspired and moved us, people that made us hate and cry and those that motivated us and made us happy – while the new friends who we spend a lot of time together might know them, and our bond with them is stronger for having shared them, our old friends were there for it all, and in a number of cases they were the ones who had an effect on who we became as a person. That’s why you get each other even after months or years of being apart, and it’s the reason why you miss them so much.
6. You’ll find great friends and allies in unexpected places
Although a new mom won’t be able to see her friends as often as she’d like to after having a child, this big and relatively sudden lifestyle change does open some new doors. Chances are that you will be spending a lot more time with close family and your in-laws, which means that you’ll have to find a way to get along with your partners family. There is often a bit of hostility, particularly between a young mom and her sister-in-law, who can be tough to persuade that you are good enough for her brother, but if you are able to handle the situation effectively you will gain a very good friend. There are many cases where sisters-in-law actually jump to each other’s aid, and if they both have kids they can become incredibly close. This new found friendship helps relieve some of that nostalgia a young mom feels.
7. You need to be creative and flexible if you want a decent social life
Now, don’t think that you have to kiss your social life goodbye once you give birth, but you will have to be very creative if you want to spend some fun time with your friends. There are several things that usually work:
- Having family members babysit form time to time
- Having people over at your place for dinner and drinks
- Arranging play dates with other parents
A common problem that a young mom faces is the fact that her finances take a big hit. The few hundred bucks that went towards funding fancy dinners and parties each month suddenly have to be diverted towards your child’s college fund or used to buy clothes and school equipment. However, with some creativity and careful planning, you’ll be able to host a dinner on a tight budget or find fun low-cost activities that you can do with your friends.
8. True friends are ready to put up with a lot of little things because they love you
Everyone is fully aware of the fact that looking at baby pictures and talking about baby stuff for a couple of hours isn’t anyone’s idea of fun Saturday afternoon, but new mothers simply can’t help themselves. However, you’d be amazed at how willing your good friends are to put up with all the boring baby talk, and even some of those nasty mood swings you experience during pregnancy. You’re single friends will also suddenly tone down their talk of parties, so as not to make you feel bad. You’ll still ask them to tell you all about their crazy single life exploits, but you’ll love them to death for being so considerate and supportive.
9. It’s not about how often you see someone or how many times you blow them off
It is quite natural for people to get a little bit mad when others don’t have enough time to hang out with them or when dates get moved time and time again, but it’s refreshing to see that this type of thing doesn’t really affect good friends. The people that are very close to you will understand that you barely have enough time to shower and get some sleep most days, and that all it takes is a weird sounding cough for you to bail out on a girl’s night out, and they are fine with it. When you finally do get a chance to sit down, all is forgotten and you can just carry on from where you left off.
10. The occasional break from your friends keeps your friendship fresh and exiting
There will be times when you miss the old days so much that you will want nothing more than to shed a few tears, but becoming somewhat of a hermit gives you a whole new perspective on friendship. I remember how my wife used to spend a lot of time with a couple of her close friends just sitting around watching TV shows and drinking coffee, way before we were married.
They were close, and they appreciated each other’s company, but at times they were glad when I’d show up with a friend of mine, as it gave them something new to talk about and something fun to do. Their conversations are ten times livelier now than they were back in those days, and they often plan out a whole day of fun activities when they meet up. This is because both experience a ton of new stuff while they are apart, and even though they phone and text, the really exiting conversations always take place when they are face to face.
You can never know all there is to know on a particular topic, and friendship can be more complex than any most things in life. There are a whole lot of details that you never learn until you become a mom, and you still have a bunch of young single friends who aren’t yet ready to make the jump and start a family of their own. It is a somewhat difficult, yet uniquely rewarding experience, and you will definitely be wiser for it.
Featured photo credit: Ojas’s Second Official Shoot/Harsha K R via flickr.com