Out of my group of close girlfriends, I’m the first who’s been given the title of mom. When I was a little girl, classmates of mine would confidently proclaim they were going to be doctors, lawyers and athletes someday. Although I wasn’t quite as sure what I wanted for my future occupation, my answer would always be a little less flashy and always the same. When I grew up, I wanted to become a mother.
Although some days I may not feel as grown up as others, I am still a mother nonetheless to my precious baby boy. All my dreams came true the day he was placed in my arms and I saw that beautiful little face. Truly nothing prepares you for that first time you set eyes on your baby. Heaven I tell you. Pure Heaven.
As delighted as I am to now call myself a mother, I have also experienced unforeseen changes being the first of my friends to have a baby. Somewhere between expecting and delivering, I was quickly ushered into the mom-zone. I’ve found that having a baby changes everything, whether I expected it to or not. There will always be a little life that I now value more than my own, and I no longer have time to think about myself, as thinking about my baby is twice as much fun.
However, just because I’m a new mom doesn’t mean I have to immediately put on mom jeans, get a mom haircut, and only hang around with mom friends. (Although I have to admit that some of my new ‘mom friend’ relationships are incredible and much needed!!) As a parent, you can be an amazing resource for your friends who don’t yet have kids, and they in return can keep parts of your pre-baby self still alive and kicking. There’s certainly a smart way to find that balance between all parties and keep those pre-mom friendships at the top of your new mom priority list. Here is the most simple give-and-take I’ve found for both new moms and their friends for making this life-changing transition as easy as possible.
New Moms – Don’t Make It a Huge Deal!
Here’s the thing, you’re a new mom and I know it’s scary/all-encompassing/the best thing ever all-in-one. However, as life changing as becoming a mom has been for you, remember that your friends’ lives haven’t dramatically changed too just because you welcomed a new addition.
No, I’m absolutely not saying to downplay the fact that you’ve had a baby. You should be joyously shouting to the world how much you adore that sweet babe!! What I am suggesting though is that you find a healthy balance.
Talk about your baby as much as you’d like, but don’t dominate the conversation with a rundown of his bathroom and sleep schedules. Listen to your friends talk too, and remember that this point in their lives is just as important as this point in yours.
Also, let your friends hold your baby if they want! Don’t make them feel uncomfortable by whipping out your hand sanitizer or dictating the specific positions your baby likes to be held before handing him or her over. Chances are that your friends are both clean and competent. Provide them with the opportunity to stretch their own mommy-muscles and if they ask for help or advice, let them know you’ve been there before too. Making anyone feel like they don’t have the mom-gene is not only rude, but also discouraging. Believe it or not, it wasn’t too long ago that you too probably doubted your own maternal instincts. Dig deep and remember what it felt like to be around other kids pre-baby.
Friends of New Moms – Don’t Forget About Them!
Right after I had Jack, my husband and I were showered with love and support from our friends and family. They stopped by to meet him, and thoughtfully brought small gifts for him and food and gift cards for us. There were days I could barely get out of bed during recovery, and those phone calls and visits meant the world to me. It was incredibly thoughtful of everyone to take the time and make the drive to meet our newest family member. Some new moms may not want as many visitors right after giving birth, but just letting your friend know you’re there for her and that you care can be the pick-me-up she needs to power through the day.
As the weeks went by and the newness of our family’s addition wore off, we were grateful that these friends still included us in their plans. They invited not only me, but my baby as well to our girls Christmas party where we ate lunch, crafted wreaths, and simply chatted about life. Our whole little family of three was even invited out for New Year’s dinner with couples we’ve been friends with for years and years. We had the best of both worlds by spending time with fellow adults and our sweet boy. We didn’t have to choose whether to celebrate the New Year with our friends, or with our baby. We were able to feel like adults for a couple hours at dinner, while still making it home in plenty of time to put our little guy to bed long before midnight.
These may seem like such minute details, but they were huge moments for us. I know a lot of new parents feel left out of social activities and get-togethers after they become parents. Usually this has to do more with wanting to be courteous of one’s need for sleep and rest after having a baby, not because your friends made it a point to leave you out. Having a baby certainly adds a whole other level, but new parents still crave adult interaction and time with friends. Even if you know your mom friends can’t make it, simply extending the invitation is sometimes all new parents need to feel that sense of normalcy and want. Just remember not to take it personally if your mom friend turns your invite down. Sometimes it’s just impossible to get a babysitter, or to be more honest, she can barely keep her eyes open by the end of the day.
The truth is that as a new mom, it’s hard to find that balance between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ you. It takes time, especially during those early days of motherhood when it can be easy to feel lost or like your old self has disappeared. Making a mama feel wanted and accepted can mean more than you’ll ever know. Or, it might become clearer down-the-road when you yourself becomes a new mom as well.
Although it’s hard to understand what a new parent is going through until you become a parent yourself, we can all be rest assured that each of us knows what it’s like to go through huge life changes. Having that support around– especially when you’re the first to go through such a big transition – can be imperative to the physical and mental health of a new and sleepless mom.