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Here's when I first realized that some of my friendships would irreversibly change after having kids: I was at the park sitting on a blanket with someone I'd known for a very long time. We were with our toddlers, one of our kids got sassy with the other, and we each reacted in drastically different ways. The rest of the afternoon was awkward. The incident wasn't serious at all, but let's just say a very deep line was drawn in the sandbox that day.
I'm thinking most moms know what I'm talking about.
To my surprise and shock, being a mom has changed a lot of my friendships. Some relationships have grown stronger, some gotten weaker and some have disappeared altogether. (I've had to deal with my own friendship challenges this summer.) Many friendships change after babies. Sometimes we can help it, but other times we can't do much to stop it. Do any of these situations sound familiar?
I have absolutely no desire—or time, for that matter—to deal with lies, drama or unnecessary back-and-forth like I did with a handful of folks before I had babies. If you want to cause trouble, find someone else besides me to do it with (or to) because I don't have physical room in my brain for petty conflicts, circular discussions citing who-did-what-when or resolutions and apologies that are offered just for show and go nowhere. I'm sorry, but throw me nonsense of any kind and it's likely to get you kicked to the curb (for a while, at least).
2. I've become less than desirable at returning phone calls.
It's not that I don't want to talk to you; it's that I'm trying to spare you.
This includes phone calls from my own sister and mom sometimes. It's not that I don't want to call you back, it's just that I literally don't have a quiet time to do it that will last more than a 5-minute window. And you, my friend, deserve more than a 5-minute window. (You think I'm kidding?) These days, nine out of 10 times, quietly playing kiddos instantly turn into assaulting hooligans screaming at me and practically pulling my clothes off if I even think about getting on the phone to talk to someone other than them. It's not that I don't want to talk to you; it's that I'm trying to spare you from the intolerable background noise (and abuse to my shirts).
3. I flake out on plans because I just want to go to bed.
(Somebody please tell me they've done this too. Please.) It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, it's because I NEED to sleep. This is health, people, and no mom can afford to get sick if she can help it.
4. I choose my kids over spending time with my friends.
I know, it's nuts and crazy (especially since I just sold my darlings down the river and outed their antics while I'm on the phone in point No. 2 above). But seriously: With both of my girls in school these days, our quality time together is shrinking as each year passes. As much as any mom loves her kids (crazy shenanigans and all), I also have this freakish fear of looking back years from now and wondering if I spent enough time with them while they were so young. So as much as I usually jump at the chance to have a mom's night out, I also tend to turn down invitations here and there on account of staying home with my girls so I can wash my face, read them stories and tuck them in (and then yell at them to get back into bed when they come running out into the hallway like wild animals).
5. I get extra-sensitive and frustrated about disagreements involving discipline.
This is probably the worst effect that's hit me after becoming a mom. Yes, I know: Judging is not good for anyone. But when your friend's kid is beating up your kid, and their mom (your friend) doesn't even do so much as to encourage their kid to apologize to your kid for acting like a jerk ... that's not cool. And you want to know what happens to me? I turn OFF. O-F-F. Kids will be kids, but friends should also act like friends. After something like that happens, I have significant trouble regarding my friends in the same way (ie: friendship changed).
6. I gravitate toward moms of kids at the same school, even though I don't have much else in common with them.
A friend of mine with kids almost in high school once told me, "Wait until your kids start school, your whole circle of friends is going to change." Ha! Yeah right! That will never happen, I thought. Well, it's happened. Because you know what? Having kids interested in the same things at the same schools in the same neighborhood is comforting, fun and absolutely wonderful when you're trying to raise your kids to be a contributing part of community. Thanks to my kids, I'm making great new friends and enjoying all kinds of folks that I otherwise would've never met through my own social circles.
Having kids changes all of us in different ways. Let's just hope I get that phone-call-returning thing in check soon. Has becoming a parent changed your friendships?