The fear seized me almost as soon as I knew I was pregnant: How would my twentysomething friends—most of whom weren’t planning to have children until they were well into their thirties—react to my news? Would we still be able to relate to each other? Wouldn’t they, despite best efforts on all sides, soon start to find me boring and unapproachable?
I was gripped with a dull, aching panic at the thought of losing treasured friendships and having to replace them with a whole new group of scary mommy friends, our only link a shared obsession with sleep deprivation and cup holders.
These fears were only reinforced by the prevailing image that popular culture promotes of parents. Awful visions of Bridget Jones’ “Smug Married” (and babied-up) couples filled my mind. I caught a late-night rerun of the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie’s mom friend makes zero effort to look for a pair of lost Manolos, and I wondered: Would I suddenly lose my interest in shoes or, more importantly, lose my empathy for others just because I had a baby?
But here I am having crossed the great divide, and I’m happy to say that I’m still the same person I was before I got pregnant. Yes, I’m going through a huge life change right now, and I’m sure the experience is shaping me slowly, just like any other experience might, but I haven’t been magically transformed into a totally different person overnight.
So let me write you a letter, my dear friend. Allow me to explain this time in my life and share with you my hopes and fears, so that we may continue on this adventure closer together rather than further apart.
You have always been so amazing at supporting me in new phases of my life, but I’m guessing you feel a bit like our friendship has to bridge a new and unfamiliar gap. You wonder whether you should still invite me to parties, book clubs, and happy hours, when babysitting might be hard to come by, and energy is low.
It’s true that I’m more preoccupied than I ever used to be. Yes, the most convenient time for you to call me is as you leave work, which is when I'm practically impossible to reach over the phone. And yes, I’m going through a bit of a crash course in a whole bunch of weird and wonderful things that you might not relate to (like weaning and potty training a small child). But the thing is, I’m still me. I’m just as frustrated by the all-consuming baby talk as you are; the only difference is that now I really need to know this stuff (like frantically-googling-at-3-a.m. need to know)!
I still want to read and talk to you about what I’m reading; to sit in a café alone and write you long, sprawling letters; to spend time laughing and cooking with you; to have deep and meaningful chats as we do our makeup; to go out and dance to electro swing like no one is watching. But in the same way you might find it hard to do those things you love when you are starting a new job or new relationship—I’m just a little caught up right now.
If you ever start to feel distanced by all my mommy chatter, please don’t give up on me. Try changing the topic or asking different questions; more likely than not, you’ll find that I’m relieved to have a chance to talk about something else. You probably don’t realize this, but as new mothers we constantly get asked about our babies. While the questions are well-intentioned (and yes, we are blinded by love and devotion), they can begin to make us feel like we no longer matter as separate entities from our offspring. Whether it’s a girls’ night out or the ballet, I still love the things I used to love, and the suggestion of a get-together is music to my ears—I'll just need a lot more advance warning so that I can arrange for a babysitter.
We’ve always been there for each other in tough times, even when we weren’t going through exactly the same challenge. And being a new mother is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done—I want to share this experience with you. But I also want you to keep telling me about your day, your heartbreaks, your triumphs—big or small. Yes, I have fallen in fierce love with a tiny new human being, but I want to be a part of your life now just as much as I ever have.
Remember that time I cajoled you into buying a spur-of-the-moment ticket to Paris? Or when I stayed up late into the night so that I could finish making a present for a guy I loved? I will fight for our friendship with that same obsessive passion that has, at times, made you worry about my sanity. Our friendship has survived us moving in with each other and moving out, changing cities, getting new jobs, working through misunderstandings, and so much more. It can survive this too, I promise. Let's stick together.
Your friend then, now, and always,