Of all of my friends, I was the first to have a baby. At first, it was such a grand milestone, of course we celebrated the fact I was going to be a mother. As time went on, however, and we parted ways (somewhat) and started experiencing different life stages at different times, I realized there are some things no mom wants to talk about with non-mom friends, whether it's a conscious decision or not. Honestly, some conversations only made me feel misunderstood or lonelier than before we sat down to talk.
Don't get me wrong, my friend circle has always been fairly small, so when I got pregnant and had a baby it put more of a divide between us. Like, what would we talk about now if not all things baby? I get that there's still life happening and I was still (technically) me, but I wasn't the same person anymore. Unfortunately, there was little room for growth back then. Some of it had to do with the baby and a lot of it was because we couldn't find ways to meet in the middle. Our lives had become too different with a different set of priorities. With all the emotions of being pregnant and having a newborn baby in my early 20s, there was a plethora of issues and experiences I realized weren't necessarily universal or easily understood. Likewise, I couldn't remember what it felt like to be kid-free. It wasn't anyone's fault but, at the time, I needed to confide more in those who had insight regarding my particular situation.
In the time since and as friends have come and gone, some of the same still stands: there's a lot I'd prefer not to talk about with non-mom friends. It's not personal, it's just that each type of friendship has its own set of boundaries and rewards. And actually, there's a lot I'd rather talk to my non-mom friends about that I wouldn't likely share with fellow moms. It's a weird balance being an adult and stuff. Lately, I seem to be seeking refuge, clinging to those who've lived my experiences to reassure me I'm not alone in this parenting gig. With that, here are some of those things I'd prefer share with other moms (but to be clear, my non-mom friendships are still extremely valuable in other ways).
The Topic Of Fatigue
I remember being tired before kids so I get the sentiment from well-meaning friends. Everyone's busy and everyone's tired! But (and this is a huge one), non-mom friends I've known in the past tired from things like staying up late to read a good book or having a longer shift than usual at work. What seems lost in translation is that my partner and I have done all of that (and then some) while caring for two kids. I thought I was tired before babies, sure, but now that I'm living a deeply affecting kind of tired it's not even close. I'm freakin' exhausted.
My mom friends don't even need to state this. You can see it in their eyes and on their faces. We're so past "tired." We're worn down to our very core. The times I've vented about my kind of tired with a non-mom friend, I was berated for not being "appreciative" for my kids; to "enjoy it while it lasts," or told "at least you're lucky enough to have kids." I understand. I really, really do and I am grateful for this kind of tired — please don't get me wrong. But mom tired and non-mom tired just aren't the same, which is why I'd prefer to avoid the topic altogether. Cool?
Scheduling And Commitments
A reason I'm so tired as a working mother of two, is because of our tedious schedules. Most things are written in my planner down to the bathroom break and to be honest, I'm very Type-A so vacations, days off, and time away aren't really my thing. While I do thrive on being busy, it's also draining. One kid needs to be at one place the exact time the second needs to be elsewhere, while I work and their dad works and there's also a doctor's appointment in the books, and, well, you get the picture, right?
While non-moms I've known have had schedules that rival this (or more), when you factor in kids it can drive my sanity off a cliff some days. Busy is busy, but busy with kids is next level.
The Go Out Vs. Stay In Debate
I'm not the same me I was pre-kids. It's a fact. Parts of me are there, somewhere, but for the most part I'm a changed woman. In the beginning, my kid-free friends extended invites to go out, do things the way we'd always done. While I appreciated being thought of, it was a double-edged sword. I liked being considered but either had no interest in going out or when I did, wasn't invited. My role changed so drastically, I get why it was hard for friends to read me.
Now, I don't care to go out much unless it's a date night with my partner. I'd rather be in with my kids. And, at times, I still get flack from those who aren't parents. I don't need to constantly defend my choices to people who don't understand where I'm at in life right now.
My Postpartum Depression
Postpartum Depression (PPD) altered so much of who I once was, it was probably impossible for any non-moms to win with me. I had a difficult time caring for myself as I struggled to dig out of this dark hole while simultaneously caring for a new baby. At the time, I wasn't sure what was wrong with me and thought my non-mom friends would only judge (turns out, I was right). Those who'd been through it, who reminded me I was normal and it was going to be OK (like my Gram), were who I needed to connect with.
Talking about PPD with non-mom friends, while helpful in getting things off my chest, never helped me in dealing with any of it. If anything, they couldn't understand why I wasn't able to bounce back to my old self and, in turn, made me feel worse.
The Potty Training Struggle
Friends without kids really don't want to hear about potty training. They don't care about the bathroom adventures for the day or how many rewards my kid earned or how long he made it before an accident. I don't blame them. Before I had kids, I wouldn't have wanted to hear about it, either. It's not their fault and it's not like it's interesting. It's just gross. But mom friends? You'll totally get the story of when I had to manually pull out dozens of wads of TP from the toilet last week because you've probably been there.
When I had a difficult time getting my baby to latch, I was dealing with postpartum depression and really frustrated. I remember turning to a non-mom friend who didn't have any advice and didn't really want to talk about it. It made her uncomfortable. In that moment I realized the only appropriate time to discuss my boob and milk supply situation was with other moms.
The Cost Of Raising A Baby
Raising a baby is really expensive. It takes budgeting, crossing my fingers, working my ass off, and, still, there are times we don't have enough for all the groceries or a particular bill. Non-mom friends (some of them) even when struggling for cash, can't quite get why I'm not able to go out for a drink (even if I wanted to go out!). There's no longer a financial freedom when I have to carve out enough for their needs. Some of my friends get it but others, still don't.
Post-Baby Body Image And Self-Esteem Issues
Not long after I had my first child, I went out with (non-mom) friends to celebrate a birthday. It was two hours out-of-town at a restaurant I couldn't afford, with plans thereafter I honestly wasn't into. The old me would've loved every bit of this night, but post-baby me was so uncomfortable I couldn't endure the entire planned festivities. At the time, my PPD was at an all-time high and my friends couldn't understand why I felt so insecure in non-maternity clothes, why I missed my baby so much I couldn't stop talking about her, and why I just wanted to go home. It was a lonely feeling I'd like to never feel again.
It takes time after a baby to find your way again. It took me longer than normal because of the PPD. I wish, at the time, my friends had been more empathetic but live and learn, I guess. Now, when I'm feeling so insecure in my own skin, I only turn to mom-friends because chances are, they've been there, too.
The Internal Struggle With Who I Am
After I had my baby, I wasn't sure who I was anymore. Was I still me or only my baby's mother? It's taken a long time to figure out the answer to this. I have mom friends and non-mom friends, but the difference now is, I'm aware of what each set of friends accept from me. I know who to trust with what, who I can rely on for kid-related things and the miscellaneous, and mostly, who I can be myself with and who I'm better off only giving the highlights.
Two kids later, I still battle with my place. I'm a mother with anxiety, but I'm also a career woman. A parter to my husband. A daughter. A sister. A friend. I'm no longer that girl I was before my first baby but, in all honesty, I wouldn't want to be. I like where I'm at now. If my friends (moms and non-moms) don't understand that, I'm better off without them.