When you have a kid you think about all the obvious stuff to do with parenting; the love and affection, the feeding, the sleepless nights and the general lifestyle changes.
You don’t think so much about the impact having a family may have on your current friendships.
You are having a kid and you are super bloody excited about it, but despite what you may think, most other people couldn’t give a flying fuck and why would they?
If you have a kid in your teens or 20’s or before your friends start to settle down you are basically dead and buried. It’s all party time for everyone else and in their mind you got old too quick and their head just isn’t in the adulting space yet. You may be lucky to have some loyal mates who stick around but there is a very good chance that you’ll find yourself a year on with everyone having gone AWOL on you.
When that inevitable time to become a grown up hits and you and your mates start entering the 30’s phase, then it starts getting gritty.
If you and your friends all desperately want kids and all your life you decided 30 was the time you suddenly had to become a grown up and get this shit done, then it comes like a race to the death.
People are dropping like flies. Every month a new engagement or pregnancy announcement.
A time when you would ordinarily be over the moon for your friend, or them for you, can suddenly become pure envy territory.
I’ve been there when your long term relationship you thought would end in marriage and kids breaks down as you near the magic 3-0 and all of a sudden everyone is having their Disney ever after and you hate them all.
Them and their damned life plans being in order!
I’ve also been there having my first child heading for mid 30s with friends desperately searching for ‘Mr Right’ and contemplating sperm donors, that just do not have the capacity at that time to be happy for you. It’s too painful. They slip away and leave your life via the backdoor.
Then there are those mates of yours who don’t want kids at all. They are gonna be singing Freddie style with their foam hands up and down gladiators style….boom boom boom “another one bites the dust!”
They are just hoping you don’t turn into ‘one of those mums’ who bombard them with photos, talk incessantly about their spawn and never come to their birthday parties anymore.
The good loyal ones will respect where you are at in the same way you will respect where they are. They will share in your happiness, and enjoy giving the baby back and going home to their clean and tidy houses where they can sleep without interruption.
After all, it was always known you would eventually become a mum and you always knew they would not. Mutual respect.
But of course there will be the friends who kind of hoped you would never change and would be like them forever. They are bored of you the instant you have a child because they only really wanted you when they were your priority.
Those ones will come and do the obligatory visit when you have given birth, maybe even more than once, but the messages become more sparse, they stop inviting you out and will moan to your other mates that you “aren’t the same” now you’ve had kids.
No shit sherlock, I would hope I had changed seeing I have a whole little human to care about. It can’t be all sambuca shots and clubbing anymore!
Eventually those friends disappear and you feel sad because you realise you were never really wanted for who you were, rather what you could give and bring to their lives.
Your work mates, they will make all the right noises to start with but all they are thinking is about how they may have to pick up for your slack when you can’t work the night shift anymore or when your on maternity leave and your employer is too stingy to get mat cover so everyone has to work a little harder.
In their mind you’ll be heading off on your ‘baby holiday’ and will be sitting on your ass, watching Homes under the Hammer and come Dine with me, whilst they are run ragged.
They are thinking about how when you return after a ‘year off’ you’ll have the audacity to ask for flexi working to accommodate childcare.
They do not think of your magical news as something positive, they are often merely thinking of how it will impact them. You may have some fab colleagues who don’t think this way but your boss most certainly will.
Your fellow parents in the workplace will totally be happy for you. Someone else to take the floodlight off of them and their requests as a parent. Someone they can show pictures to at work and talk to when they feel shitty being there whilst their kid is sick because they don’t feel they can ask for carers leave.
Being a parent in a work environment can be a lonely place without other people in the same boat.
It’s easy to assume everyone will be reeling in excitement for you when you have a baby, but from my experience the only people who actually feel big level excitement to rival your own are your family and those mates who already have kids.
Haha those mates who have done it already are totally ecstatic. They know exactly what’s coming and they cannot wait to see someone else go through the same shitshow they have.
They want to hear it all. The train wreck birth, your first postpartum shit and the day to day madness your life becomes. Because they get it and it makes their mental world feel normal. And they are finally so relieved to have someone who is genuinely happy for them and they can be genuinely happy for.
They are often your new closest friends. They are the ones who will want to hear your rants, that will be there to answer your 3am WhatsApp messages and will make plans that are always in the daytime. They will never judge why you don’t go out at night.
If you happen to not have any friends who also have kids it’s bloody hard!
There are important things you need to do and to respect when you become a parent too. It goes both ways.
Try to remember how it was when you knew people who had kids and they literally stopped having a personality. The ones you no longer felt able to talk to at all.
Don’t be that freak who sits for half an hour showing all the photos and videos of your kids without stopping for air.
READ THE ROOM!
Don’t be that ass that thinks that just because you are a mum, that it’s everyone’s calling, because it isn’t!
Don’t think that those who choose to not have children are somehow any less of a woman than you. Or try to convince them they do really want kids or they are missing out.
It’s no different to being made to feel you’ve missed out or made a mistake because you became a parent.
We all choose different paths.
It’s really hard because all you really want is for those friends you love to experience what you do and to walk that path with you but that’s on you, not them.
That’s to meet your needs, not theirs.
I am truly so bloody lucky.
Yes I have lost friends I once classified as best mates and people I went through so much with and thought would always be in my life. That was horrid. But I have been blessed with an amazing bunch of mates that despite not having or wanting kids of their own, have been there, through it all.
They keep in touch and try to make plans during times that I can attend. They are happy for me even though it’s not for them, and get that I’ve changed whilst still helping me hold onto the ‘me’ before I had kids.
Yes of course I’m not always invited to everything, because the reality is they know I can’t always be accommodated but we have found a way to persevere through our changing world and endure the test of time.
Of course they will no doubt roll their eyes at some of the things I do or don’t do now I am a mother and probably think I’ve got old and boring and am no longer the fun person I was, as will I at things they do and say sometimes and tut to myself that they are still living like teens! But that is the beauty of it. That’s human and that’s ok.
I have also had the pleasure of acquaintances and friends that I wasn’t that close with before, now being friends so very dear to me and close to my heart that are huge parts of my life. The journey of motherhood throwing us together in a way that our previous lifestyles may not have.
In having children you win some and you lose some and that’s the nature of the beast.
And then comes the new friends….. the NCT mums and the play group friends, and the scary as hell pressure to make school mum chums…. But that is for another post!
To those who are there for me, and are in my life now I’m a mother, I hope you recognise yourself in this and know I love you and I am grateful for you.
All pictures are free images from unsplash and Pixabay. No actual pictures of my friends either past or present have been used