My father gave me a piece of advice once, and it has stuck with me every day since.
“You can count your real friends on one hand.”
I’ve always done my best to remember those words, and have repeated them to myself numerous times throughout the years. I thought I always understood it’s meaning. However, it wasn’t until I became a mom that I finally realized how true it was.
When you announce you’re having your first baby, you feel like you become a small town celebrity. Everyone wants a piece of the action, and people you’ve long forgotten about are suddenly poking their curious heads out of their rabbit holes. They want to know every detail, expect an invite to your shower, and start buying your unborn child those cheesy onesies with “worlds greatest niece/nephew” on them. You’re overjoyed that you and your little one will be surrounded by so many people who are as excited for this journey as you are! And then your baby arrives…oh, the joy! But after a few weeks of loved ones marching in and out of your house to visit, the novelty starts to wear off. You start to notice that people are slowly drifting away and before you know it, the visits stop…then the calls…then the texts. And then nothing at all.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me at first. Here I was…the happiest I had ever been in my life, yet suddenly feeling rejected too. Now, I had PLENTY of love and support to go around. I couldn’t have asked for more, and my son got nothing but the very best from every single person around him. But when you hear how excited some people are to meet their “nephew” for 9 months straight, you become a little confused when they’re suddenly nowhere to be found. I mean, if you’re an “aunt” now, you should probably meet the kid at some point…right? When on earth will they ever get a chance to wear that onesie?! So yes, it hurt. But something happens when you become a parent. You unleash this strength from within that you never even realized was there, and you start to care less and less about the things that don’t matter. A few months after my son was born, I started thinking about everyone that was no longer a constant element in my life…and I couldn’t believe how easily I was able to shrug and laugh it all off. Somtimes, I wish I would have known sooner – think of all the time I could have saved! But I think you need to experience things like that firsthand to truly learn something. And this mama bear has definitely learned a lot.
So, why did I lose so many “friends” at this point in my life? Well, I believe part of the reason is because there are a lot of stigmas surrounding motherhood. I’m a boring mom now, so we clearly have nothing in common. I have a kid, so I’m probably too busy to go to lunch. Drinks on a Friday night? Nah, I surely go to bed by 8pm. I must just not be the person you’ve grown accustomed to knowing, so it’s time to move on. Honestly…some of those things might be true at times. Your life changes in every way imaginable, and I’m NOT who I was a few years ago. But why is that a bad thing?
Society likes to make it seem as though we lose our identities once we become parents. I’ve never once felt like I “lost” myself. If anything, I’ve found exactly who I was meant to be. I’ve simply changed. I’m still me, but I’ve evolved as a person. I still have the same personality with the same spirit…but my priorities are different, along with my goals. And while we’re growing as human beings (and raising them), you’re on the other side of the glass judging us and remaining stagnant. Yes, we’ve changed…but so have you. Because the person I once thought I needed in my life, is now a stranger to me. Stop looking for the old me, and focus on finding the new you. Perhaps we’re not the ones with the problem…maybe you are. Just a thought.
I don’t even need a full hand to count my real friends. I have four – and although there would have been a time where that would have seemed crazy to me, I have never been more content than I am now. Of those four, there are a mixture of women who are moms, who are married, who are single, and who don’t plan to have children. I don’t base my relationships with them on values we have in common, or whether or not we want the same things in life. I care that you respect my life choices, regardless of what yours are. I care that you love my children, whether or not you want your own. I care that you treat me the same as you always have – before and after motherhood. I care that you’re loyal and dependable. I care that I can trust you with anything. I care that you expect all of those things from me in return, because that’s true friendship.
Thank you to every single person who didn’t show up when they should have. Thank you for letting me down, and showing me what I really need (or what I don’t need) in my life. Thank you for not getting to know my son. If you had, he would have had to learn about you the hard way like I did. Thank you for teaching me to let go of the things that no longer bring something positive to my life. Thank you for being you.
Also, thank you to my real friends. The people who are there through the things they understand, and the things they don’t. The ones I can always count on…with one hand.