There is a major shift in our lives that happens when we have kids.
It is not the sleepless nights or the endless nappy changing or the change in our work routines. It is not even the overpowering, all-consuming love that we feel when we see that little squishy face! It is a change that happens for so many new parents, men and women alike but, we very rarely talk about it.
The shift I am talking about is the shift in our friendships. The new parent friendships you make in mum’s groups, playgroups or school, but also the massive changes to your existing friendships. The best friend you have had since you were knee high, your ride-or-die, your sister from another mister!
When you have a family, you have your beliefs and your opinions on parenting and family operations. Opinions and values that have been shaped and moulded throughout your life, experiences and up-bringing.
You have probably made decisions about how you will raise your brood and the values you want to instil in your children before you have even had the discussion about actually trying for a baby. You have probably chatted about these things with your friends too and of course, you are so in-sync!
The truth is that once you have kids, you quickly realise that your views on discipline, lifestyles or routine will often differ from those closest to you. Of course, this is always the case but, having kids will heighten this by one-thousand percent. You will have to decide to support each other in your differences very early on or these small variations in the way you parent can drive a big wedge between even the closest of friends.
Agreeing to disagree or not to take things personally will have to continue throughout your parenthood journey because these niggles come up more often than you would ever think. From the choices on where to take weekend trips away (are you campers or do you prefer a bit more comfort), to bedtimes and routines. A simple discussion about how you pack lunchboxes can become an emotionally charged topic. How ridiculous but alas, it is true!
These small variations often prove to be a deciding factor in our new friendships too, because the fact is, if your parenting styles really don’t gel … chances are your friendship could fizzle.
As if it wasn’t hard enough to make new friends as an adult eh? Gone are the days where you can become the best of mates just because you have the same shoes or like the same band! Now, there is too much baggage for things to be so simple.
You also don’t realise how much of a change will happen between you and your friends who don’t have kids. If you have friends who don’t mind doing dinner at your place so you can put the kids to bed, or suggest meeting up at a café that has a play area – then you are super lucky and you should hold onto those friends! Not everyone makes it this easy.
As a new mum you may stop being invited to girl’s nights because they will assume you can’t go or the phrase “sorry no kids” gets sent more frequently… because they just don’t get it and that is okay. It hurts, especially at first but it’s okay.
This is a hard stage to go through, finding your tribe as a parent is confusing. Another bump in the journey for many mums and dads.
Friendships tick and tock. They go through stages however, the two-way street of friendship still exists as life evolves.
So, hold onto friends (new or old) who get you or at least make the commitment to try. But, don’t beg anyone to be in your life, you deserve better.
When the fog clears and you’re in-stride you will find those who will walk right alongside you through it all, even when we make different lunchbox selections!