Thank You for Being A Friend

I thought writing about my friendships would be easier because I have some really amazing friends. The reality is I had a terribly hard time writing this because I don’t feel like I’m a great friend these days. “These days” being since I had Lucas. After some serious reflection, I’ve realized that this is one of the hardest parts of my postpartum journey: maintaining friendships. I’m constantly distracted. I respond to texts 3-5 days late, if at all. I’ve missed birthdays, graduations, promotions, moves, relationships have started and ended, I’m sure I’ve missed even more and it makes me feel like a really bad friend. As the person who used to show up to everything, who always made the effort, who hardly ever canceled, and who loves her girlfriends, it’s really disheartening to think that I’ve neglected this really important part of my life and support system.

And maybe I’m not cutting myself enough slack. I had a baby fifteen months ago. I’ve moved, left a job, become a stay-at-home mom, found my passion, started a business, went back to work, and continue to help my husband run his business. There’s no shortage of fun or regular schmegular activities around here. I do still talk to my friends as often as possible, some even more regularly now than ever. I just wish I could see them more. There are only so many kid-friendly activities you can ask them to attend (or even attend yourself); only so many times you can invite your friends to take the hike out to your place to watch your kid eat pasta and meltdown before bed. I’m so thankful for those of you who tag along with us at dinners, who hang out with us at home, who know we’d be there if we could.

I feel like am doing this really cool thing by having a family but my life is a lot more monotonous than it used to be. It doesn’t feel like I have a lot to talk about. I’m sure my friends would say otherwise but that’s truthfully how a lot of moms feel. There’s more routine, less disposable income, and less time to socialize. At this stage in our parenting lives, it’s much easier to get out for some time alone or with friends. But those first 6 months?! Yeah right! Anytime I went to the grocery store I was waiting for the “please come home” call! Seriously though, the beginning is pretty tough. It doesn’t feel fair to my friends that I’ve rescheduled dinners so many times that they just didn’t happen or missed out on important moments. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss them or have written them off. We just lost touch in the shuffle of some giant life changes. Some I could call up and we’d talk as if we were together yesterday and for others there would be more effort but the love is still there.

There are other friends I have disconnected from completely. I didn’t have the emotional capacity to function in our friendship the way I’d done before. I know that’s inevitable for some relationships, sometimes friends grow apart. But there’s a weird feeling when it comes after starting a family or a change that shifts attention onto a partner. And having a baby is really a time to lean on your partner and bond with them in a new way. I’ve heard people say it after girls get boyfriends, then get married, and so on. I have never had this issue before but it feels like I betrayed the “sisterhood” somehow and it’s crummy. I’m still learning that those are the friendships you’re supposed to outgrow; the ones where you feel like you have to make your life smaller to fit inside of who you used to be.

Having a baby sheds a spotlight on of all your relationships. You re-evaluate the status your friendships: healthy, unhealthy, strained, stressed, real, fake, life-affirming, or challenging in all the right ways? I’m thankful to have people around who love me enough to know I’m still here; even if it’s been awhile since I’ve texted you back, or called, or come for a visit. And I’ll try to do more of all of those things… one day. Until then, thank you for being a friend.

Dashanna Hanlon