When I was engaged and choosing bridesmaids, I decided to follow the trend of sending cute cards asking them to stand beside me on my big day. I quickly dropped three of my four requests in the mail, but the last one I phoned in, afraid to delay asking by even a couple days.
This last request was for a close friend who was pregnant and due with her first baby any day. I desperately wanted her in my wedding, but irrationally believed that becoming a new mom would make her too busy to consider it. I wanted her to commit before the baby arrived.
Once I became a mom a couple of years later, I realized how flawed (and admittedly, selfish) my thinking was. While, yes, being a parent can override other priorities in my life (taking care of a tiny human is a big commitment!), it hasn’t changed my desire to be present for my friends.
If you’re feeling like I was, and have a friend who’s begun a new venture into parenthood, you’re definitely not alone. However, now having personal experience as a parent, I stand corrected in my concerns and have compiled five things your new-parent friend likely wants you to know.
1. They didn’t forget your birthday
One thing I’ve always prided myself on is keeping in touch with friends, even when we find ourselves in different places. I love sending and receiving snail mail and have reminders in my phone to choose and mail cards for friends’ birthdays the following month. However, during particularly stressful parenting times, I do find myself falling behind.
When this happens, I feel awful, but there are days when getting a baby or toddler in and out of the car for just one more tiny errand feels impossible. The perfect card may sit on my counter for days (or weeks…) just waiting for a stamp. But I’m likely thinking about it (and my friend) every day as I feel it staring me down from across the room.
2. They still want to be invited … even though they may have to say no
One of the things I miss most from my pre-parenthood days is the ability to make plans on a whim, or even at all. Most days, I would love to grab dinner after a meeting runs late, but sometimes, it’s just not possible. I may have to literally sprint to the daycare to pick up my daughter before I start getting charged overtime (who knew this was a thing?) or have to cancel at the last minute when my daughter is suddenly banished from daycare for having the dreaded pink eye again.
While I know it’s tiring for friends to hear, “No,” it’s not fun to feel like I’m saying it and missing out constantly, either. But, for me personally, what’s even worse is when friends simply stop asking me to be part of their plans.
3. They want to talk about more than just their kid, but you may need to take the lead
My daughter takes up a lot of my head space, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about other things. In between remembering to pack lunch and wondering how it’s already bath night again, I have a million other interests.
I still want to swap recommendations for binge-worthy shows, hear stories about new jobs, and talk about everything happening in our world. Sometimes, though, I am so wrapped up in (read: overwhelmed by) the world of potty training and ABCs, that I have trouble answering the question, “What’s new?” and need my friends to guide our conversations to other topics.
4. It’s important for you to spend time with their kid
Some of my daughter’s favorite people are her “aunts.” She’s excited when they visit, knows them by name, and will randomly remind me of fun facts about them, like, “Mommy, did you know that Aunt Sisi has cows?!” (She lives on a ranch.)
Seeing relationships blossom between my daughter and my closest friends is rewarding in a way that I can’t really explain. She sees the important role healthy friendships play in our lives, and they get to see why this little person has me wrapped around her finger.
5. They’re still the same person … just a slightly different version
I sometimes grapple with knowing who I am now that I’m a parent. I have added responsibilities, but still love to travel, wish I had more time to read, and eat way too much ice cream. So, in the end, very little about me as a person has changed, and my friends have helped remind me of that by sticking by me as I started this new chapter of my life.
Originally published on October 16, 2018.