Fotolia

10 Things I Didn't Understand About True Friendship, Until I Became A Mom

Ad failed to load

When I found out I was pregnant I knew I was going to be the recipient of numerous life lessons. While "how to be a mother" would be at the top of that list, I knew my child was also going to teach me how to be a better partner to his or her father, how to be a better worker, how to be a better cook (hopefully) and, it turns out, how to be a better friend. There were things I didn't understand about true friendship, until I became a mom; things I thought I had a handle on or an understanding of; things that have made me a better friend to the women (and men) in my life, and have helped me determine who should stay in my life, and who shouldn't.

I've always considered myself a good friend and have prided myself on how willing I am to be there for the people in my life. Growing up in a toxic household with an abusive parent made me acutely aware of just how important friends and friendships are, and I never wanted to do my friends wrong, as they were the family I was actually able to choose for myself. Of course, I have failed many friends countless times, too, and friendships have ended because I haven't handled things the right way. Which is why I'm so thankful for motherhood (among other reasons) and consider my son to be the reason why I've become a better friend as I've grown and matured in my role as someone's mom.

Thanks to motherhood, I know who's worth my time and effort and energy and who isn't. Thanks to motherhood, I know when to let the little things go and when to be more understanding. Thanks to motherhood I definitely know that I need to talk about problems and ask for help and be communicative with those around me. All of those lessons have made me a better friend and, as a result, made my friendships stronger. Honestly, sometimes I wonder if I'm raising my son, or if my son is raising me (then I have to remind him to wipe his butt, and it all becomes crystal clear.) So, with all of that being said, here are just a few things I didn't realize about true friendship, until my son showed up.

Ad failed to load

A True Friend Isn't In Competition With You

giphy

Since our culture has a linear checklist of "life choices" someone is supposed to make in order to be considered a "successful adult," it seems that we're all in a race with one another to be more adult than the other adults. It's exhausting, and it's so unnecessary.

A true friendship won't make you feel like you're in that race. Not with them, at least. In fact, a true friendship will make you feel supported and valued and "on track," regardless of where you are in life. It took me far too long to learn that valuable lesson, and nothing separates the people who support you from the people who think they're racing against you, like procreation.

A True Friend Is Genuinely Happy When You're Happy...

In college I had a dear friend who seemed happy only when I was miserable. If I was going through a break up or having financial trouble or just genuinely disenfranchised, she was giddy. When I was doing well — getting jobs, furthering my career or in a healthy relationship — she wasn't so giddy. In fact, she was upset, and considered it an affront to our friendship that I found happiness outside and unrelated to her.

I would feel guilty for, essentially, living my own life, and it took me far too long to realize that our relationship wasn't genuine friendship, it was toxic. Thankfully now, and especially after I had my son, I am surrounded by people who are genuinely happy for me and the life choices I have made. They don't consider my successes to be their failures; they don't wish me ill will so they can feel better about their lives; they just want us all to life one another up, support one another, and celebrate one another. That, dear readers, is true friendship.

...And Is Quick To Celebrate Your Successes

giphy

If you find yourself engaged and your friend feels bummed, they're not a true friend. If you find yourself pregnant and your friend can't seem to squeak out an, "I'm so happy for you," they're not a true friend. If your life successes and milestones are met with trepidation and resentment, that person isn't a true friend.

My pregnancy was unplanned, so I knew announcing my pregnancy would be a shock to every single one of my friends. Almost all of those friends received my startling news with wide eyes, giant smiles, and genuine happiness. Of course they had questions, but they were quick to let me know that they were happy for me and supported me in this new life choice. Others, however, were quick to jump straight to the negative. You don't have room in your life for people like that, in my opinion. Yes, you want people who are going to be honest with you and raise real concerns, but if people can't be happy for you when you're happy and celebrate with you when you're doing "big things," you're better off without them.

Ad failed to load

A True Friend Doesn't Judge You For Your Feelings

I didn't hide the fact that I was absolutely terrified about being a mother. Not with my friends, that is. I let them know that I was afraid my life was going to change so drastically I wouldn't recognize myself anymore. I told them I was afraid my partner and I would grow distant, because the time a baby needs and deserves is time we would no longer be able to give one another. I told them I was afraid I would end up like my toxic parent or my child would hate me or I would have to quit my job, and my career was and is the first baby of my life. I said it all — all the things I'm sure I would be chastised for and judged for by strangers — and my friends didn't bat an eye.

The same holds true today. I can call my friend and tell her that my child is driving me crazy and I need a break before I go insane and she doesn't assume that I don't care for him or that I love him less. She knows how difficult motherhood is and she knows I'm a human being. A true friend is someone you can divulge every single thing to, and they won't think less of you for it.

A True Friend Isn't Threatened When Your Life Choices Differ From Theirs

giphy

My best friend doesn't want to have children. Ever. She is adamant about always being the auntie and I know she is never going to change her mind (nor do I think she should). She's still my go-to person for anything baby or motherhood related. Our different life choices haven't changed our friendship or made us feel like we can no longer relate. She was never worried about me thinking I can no longer talk to her because she's not a mother and "wouldn't understand," and I was never worried that she would find me annoying when all I wanted to talk about the amount of sleep I wasn't getting.

A True Friend Knows Relationships Are Never 50/50

Since becoming a mother, I've learned that relationships are never a 50/50 split of effort. While we like to talk romantically about every relationship a person can have as being a "meet in the middle" scenario, it rarely plays out that way in real life. Usually, one person is going to need a little more from someone else and, if the relationship is healthy, the pendulum will swing in the other direction and the person who was giving more than 50 percent, will start getting more than 50 percent.

There were moments (and still are) when I wasn't able to give my friends 50 percent of my time or effort or attention. Not once did they ever make me feel guilty for that. Instead, they realized that one day I would essentially "return the favor" and when they needed more than 50 percent from me, I would be there.

Ad failed to load

A True Friend Doesn't Hide Their Feelings...

giphy

A college friendship of mine dissolved in spectacularly painful fashion when the two of us failed to communicate with one another. Instead of talking about how we were both feeling, we bottled it up and hoped our feelings would go away. Yeah, that didn't happen.

In the end, we didn't respect one another to tell the truth. We were afraid the other couldn't handle it; afraid that any subsequent argument would end the friendship and, well, if you have to be afraid of someone calling off a relationship with you because you're honest, you probably shouldn't be involved in that relationship at all.

...And Isn't Afraid Of Confrontation

I know that, with my true friends, we can disagree and even argue and we'll still be friends. I know that our bond isn't fragile and we don't have to always see eye-to-eye in order to love, respect, and cherish one another. In fact, I value their opinions — especially when they differ from my own — and want to hear their thoughts and opinions on things, regardless. When you're part of a true friendship, you know an argument or disagreement (when it's handled in a healthy and respectful way, of course) won't be the end of your friendship, so you won't be afraid to say what you need to say, when you need to say it.

A True Friend Can Handle Watching You Poop During Labor

giphy

Two of my best friends were in the labor and delivery room with me the moment my son was born. My very best friend drove to the hospital the moment I started labor, so she was there from start to finish and witnessed every painful contraction, the unsuccessful attempts at using the birthing tub and the birthing ball, the epidural, and, well, the poop.

She saw my poop, you guys.

She literally saw me poop while pushing, in front of strangers, and she didn't bat an eye. She didn't make a noise. She didn't say something that made me feel self-conscious. That is friendship. If you can watch your friend poop in front of strangers and act like it's nothing, you're a gem.

Ad failed to load

A True Friend Will Never Bring Up The Face That You Pooped During Labor. Ever.

My friend never brings up the poop, and that is why I love her so.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

7 Things A Mom Really Means When She Says She Doesn't Want Anything On Mother's Day

Every year my family asks me what I want for Mother's Day, and every single year I tell them the same thing: Nothing. So, by now, they know that when I say "nothing" I absolutely do not mean "nothing." In fact, there are more than a few things a mom …
By Candace Ganger

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

13 Unique (& Totally Not Mainstream) Mother's Day Gifts For The Hipster Mom

Hipsters thrive on being outside the norm and not really digging anything considered "mainstream." Whether it's in their fashion, what music they listen to, the books they read, or how they enjoy beverages, there's just something that makes them dist…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's How To Introduce Your Pet To Your Baby & Make Everything As Calm As Possible

Our home, which we lovingly refer to as “the funny farm,” is filled with four-legged family members. We have two crazy beagles and two cat jerks, and boy are they loved and spoiled. (As they should be.) But we are now finally having a baby of our own…
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Here's The Right Birth Method For You, According To Your Zodiac Sign

If you're pregnant, you've probably given childbirth some serious thought. Some moms-to-be prepare a meticulous birth plan, while others are comfortable just going with the flow. And me? Well, I made a plan... but that plan was useless when faced wit…
By Steph Montgomery

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}