Holly Roberts, mum of one, Relate Counsellor, mental health advocate, vegan cake baking (and eating) enthusiast, avid film goer and yoga lover writes about the importance of friendships and how they can evolve during motherhood.
Becoming a mum changes you in ways that you can never expect or be prepared for, no matter how many parenting books you’ve read. Your experience is beautifully and uniquely yours, and sometimes it takes a while to settle into this different version of you. I say a different version on purpose, because you don’t transform into a completely new person when you become a mum; you adapt, you evolve, you draw on strength and resilience you never knew you had, you struggle with things that didn’t bother you before. Friends are often a really important part of our parenting journey and hopefully you have a good network of people around to support you in this transition. It’s also very common for friendships to change during this time, which can take a little adjusting to, especially if you lose touch with someone you were once close with.
Priorities will change
Becoming a mum shifts the dynamic in friendships and you may find it harder to connect and find common ground like you used to. It can be tricky to adjust when meeting up impulsively and acting on the spur of the moment doesn’t happen anymore. Staying up late and partying may still be appealing for both of you, but just needs a little more planning than it did before. Priorities are naturally going to change which could be frustrating. You both may feel like the other is abandoning you, especially if one of you is a mum and the other isn’t. The reality is that one of you may have less time, one may want to talk about things that don’t interest the other, or perhaps one is struggling to conceive and finds being around you and your baby difficult. All of this can feel painful. Recognising these differences will be really useful in helping your friendship to develop and accommodate this new way of being. You are both fundamentally the same people, so spending a bit of time working out adjustments and compromises might help you find a way to hang out with each other in a new, but fulfilling and meaningful way.
Some friendships will end or pause, and that’s ok
Some friends unfortunately will fall by the wayside. The natural give and take in a relationship may start to feel imbalanced and make the friendship too difficult to maintain. This can lead to a sense of loss when everything feels so different anyway. Be gentle with yourself knowing that it takes emotional energy to keep relationships going. If there isn’t enough energy in the tank, then perhaps certain friendships will end up taking a back seat until your tank is a little fuller again. You may find that you’re able to re-kindle relationships as your family gets older but it’s natural to want to surround yourself with people that really understand where you’re at in that moment.
If you went to pre-natal classes you probably found a new set of ready-made friends that you spend time with because you are all at exactly the same point in your parenthood. They may not be people you would usually be friends with, but you can unashamedly talk about baby poo and night time feeds because they really understand what you’re going through, they are going through it too. You provide an important ‘in the moment’ support for each other which is invaluable.
Your friendships will keep changing as your child grows
As your children grow these relationships are likely to change too. All mums will know that your child’s development is constantly evolving. One minute they are toddling and obsessed with Peppa Pig, the next they are wanting to have Fortnite playdates. You might find that the people you would see every week at baby music classes are not the ones you see now at karate club five years later. Circumstances change and friends may come and go. This doesn’t make those old friendships any less valid, there just might not be enough commonality to connect you both now.
Your friendships are unique to you
It’s ok to have lots of different groups of friends, some who have kids, some who don’t, some who work, some who don’t, some you are closer to than others. Equally you may have one friend you do everything with or a close knit circle of like-minded mates. Whatever your preference, remember you’re not ‘just’ a mum, you are a multi-faceted person and if you can find people that help you express yourself authentically, that help celebrate and encourage you in whatever you are doing, then they are good people to be around.
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