Your friends have seen you through good times, bad times, drunk times, really drunk times, breakups, professional achievements, and that trendy juice cleanse you tried back in ‘09 before you learned to love yourself and realized the diet industry is a sexist marketing machine designed to make you hate yourself and then profit off of selling you bullshit solutions to "fix" your body, which is actually totally fine (#NeverAgain).
Your friends, in short, are awesome. And they stick with you through every change you've undergone, which have been a lot.
Now that you’re a mom, your friends are going to continue to see you through some crap, but the presence of a child might slightly alter how they approach you, at least at first. And some of the “crap” they see you through will be literal crap. As in shit. Your baby’s shit. Which is now a thing you have to deal with, and hopefully your friends will stick by you during those dark days.
I was the first of my core group of friends to have a baby and the reactions of my besties really ran the gamut. From the friends who literally shrieked in the middle of the bar at the Union Square W Hotel, to the friend who plastered a fake smile on his face and then later disdainfully compared getting pregnant to getting an STD, their emotions, like my own, were often all over the map. It turns out that when it comes to your best friends, having a baby, in the end, really doesn’t change anything at all, but that initial jolt of, “Oh, holy crap: What is this new little creature and what does it mean that you’re having it?” takes some getting used to.
I feel like there has been much ink spilled over how being a parent changes you, but how does it affect your nearest and dearest? Let’s find out who your friends become after your kid arrives:
Your Extra Mother You Never Wanted
This friend has either had other friends or family members have babies or has one herself, so she knows what is up. After you’ve had your baby, she comes over with food and she cleans your house; She knows how to hold and calm babies and shoos you into bed to take a nap. Once you settle into your own mom groove, she is the first to offer to hang out at kid-friendly venues and helps you wrangle your toddler instead of just watching you. She offers to babysit. This friend knows that even if you haven’t changed since becoming a mother, your life has, and she wants to make sure you’re okay through all of it.
This friend approaches your friend with the good-natured, intense, but somewhat detached-from-the-specimen curiosity of a lab researcher. Chances are, this started when you were pregnant and they asked you a million questions, and now that your little one is here, the probing questions haven’t stopped. Since they often come from a place of inexperience or confusion, they’ll frequently start their questions with “So wait…” For example:
“So wait… When he was crying just then, how did you know he was hungry? Did you know because he’s on a schedule or could you tell based on the way he was crying? Do they have different cries? How do you learn which one means what? Or did you just guess?”
“So wait… when are they going to start talking? Is that something you have to teach them? Like, obviously not lesson format, but, like, do you have to work with them on it somehow?”
This friend really wants a baby, but she knows it’s not quite her time yet, so until it is she is going to live through you and yours. She’s read What To Expect When You’re Expecting, or perhaps Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, so she’s very well-versed in baby and kid stuff. She DVRs old episodes of A Baby Story and Supernanny and watches I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant with a look of wistful hope on her face. She was so excited when you told her you were going to be a parent that she probably cried happy tears. Once your baby arrives, if you’re at a function with your child, she will happily take over holding or watching them while you kick back with a drink for a bit.
The Jealous Older Sibling
It’s not uncommon for older siblings to act out when a new baby joins the family. They get snippy or possessive with you, disdainful of the new baby, aggressive, avoidant, antisocial, or any combination of any of those behaviors. You might wind up having a friend like that, too, which can be kind of cute at first, because it’s so blatantly obvious what’s going on. As long as it passes and quickly becomes something you can talk about and then laugh about, it’s all good. But if they refuse to get over their shit, it gets old fast. You know when a cat is pissed off at you? Friends who get jealous of your baby turn into human versions of angry cats.
This friend is very concerned. Deeply concerned. Neurotically concerned. This friend is probably usually a bit of a pessimist under normal circumstances, and when it comes to your baby, they’re basically convinced that every disease, genetic disorder, criminal, and human trafficker within 1,000 miles is specifically plotting against your child—maybe all together. They tend to catch the first couple lines of sensationalist news stories, like, “Is your infant dropping acid and performing satanic rituals as part of street gang initiations? Coming up next, scientists have more insight on this troubling trend and how it’s affecting your baby’s ability to get into college.” And then they come back to you, biting their nails and asking, “Did you know about these LSD baby cults? It’s probably nothing.” (They don’t think it’s nothing; They are tremendously concerned.) “But I heard about it the other day and figured if you hadn’t, you might want to look into it.” You appreciate your friend’s endearing paranoia… but worry about how much worse they will be if they ever have kids.
OMG, wouldn’t it be amazing if your friend turned into the actual Oprah? Make it happen, science! But what I mean by this is that you sometimes you have a friend who really wants to you to know you can talk about your feelings and get real with her. As in many of the aforementioned categories, “the Oprah” probably had a bit of this going on before your kid, but the relatively abrupt life change might summon the inner Oprah in a friend who wasn’t so touchy feely before. You can just kind of be chilling out with her, talking about pumpkin spice lattes or whatever and then she’ll put her hand on your hand and say, “But how are you?” Your Oprah can often sense when something is amiss or when you just need to bust out the Kleenex and have a good cry for a bit.
The Endless Pool Of Wisdom
You know how, in fairy tales, the protagonist often goes out into the woods to seek the wisdom of a magical and insightful sage? That’s your Wise Woman friend. She is a pal upon whom you rely for any and all parenting/mom related questions. This friend either has kids, step-kids, or foster children of her own, raised siblings or has served in some other way as a primary guardian of little (and not so little) ones. No matter what the issue, she seems to have simple, easy to follow instructions on how to at least try to get through it. She is approachable and non-condescending, but you still look up to her in awe because she makes it look so effortless.
This friend was always kind of a “friend.” A better term would probably be "frenemy." You’ve always have a competitive streak between the two of you, but the presence of a child has made her turn it up a notch. Either you have a baby and she doesn’t, which makes her highlight the other things she’s doing oh-so-much better than you (in a totally passive aggressive way of course), or you now both have babies and she starts “casually” mentioning how her darling, precious child has been hitting all her milestones so far ahead of schedule that they’ve been accepted early to the most prestigious private preschool in New York (97% of their graduates go on to Ivy League schools). Honestly? This friend is toxic. You should have phased her out years ago, so I’d recommend starting now (the baby actually provides an excellent excuse: “Oh, I’m sorry I can’t meet up. I’m soooooooooo busy!”)
The Person Who Cannot Even
This friend is convinced she is the only one who doesn’t quite feel like an adult yet and your having a baby has sent her even further into an existential crisis. Any time you hang out, this happens within 15 minutes of getting together:
“Oh my godddddddddddddddd. You have a babyyyyyyyyyyyy! Can you even believe you have a baby?! Like… you’re grown up. You’re an actual, honest to God grown up. I’m so not a grown up. I shouldn’t even be allowed to be out right now because I should probably be accompanied by a parent or guardian. I can’t even have a dog — a dog— because I know me and I know I wouldn’t be able to handle the responsibility, and you have a helpless baby human. How do you even… I can’t, I can’t even. This is insane.”
And no matter how much you want to tell your friend that no one feels like an adult anymore (and that, in fact, having a baby sometimes makes you feel like even less of an adult, between the constant preoccupation with kid stuff and the fact that you often don’t know WTF you’re doing) she will have none of it. That’s okay. After her little diatribe she calms down and then it’s business as usual.
The Dear Abby No One Ever Wrote To
This friend doesn’t let the fact that they don’t have kids and have never had kids stop them from knowing, deep in their hearts, that they are parenting experts and you need their advice, especially when your child is crying or misbehaving. They babysat in college! And there was that summer they were a camp counselor. That’s totally the same as parenting and, if you ask them, it’s really not all that difficult. They start a lot of sentences with “You know what you have to do…” and “Just…” The more frustrated you get, the calmer and more smug-looking they become. Bless their hearts. Comfort yourself in knowing that your friend truly doesn’t mean to come across as condescending and obnoxious… and, of course, that when they have kids you can revisit this on them tenfold.
Images: Alex/Flickr; Giphy(10)