• Keeping Friends

Reader Wisdom: Becoming a mother and losing friends

Published: July 10, 2014 | Last Updated: July 10, 2014 By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
Is losing friends part and parcel of being a new mom? A single mom?

When a single mom posted about her trouble making friends and losing the ones she had before, another reader offered some sage advice.

Here is Cara’s post: 

I’ve watched several of my own friends and girlfriends/wives of my SO’s [significant other’s] friends become mothers and lose themselves in the process. It’s quite common.

Something happens–similar to what you’ve described–in which they change their lifestyles and become focused on their offspring. Suddenly everyone and everything else falls by the wayside and one day, usually soon after the little one starts school, the mum finds herself alone and lonely.

What she may or may not realize is that in the process of revamping herself, she has created walls. She may have started judging her childfree friends as selfish or somehow lesser than herself for living their lives as they saw fit, without children. Or equally often, new mum merges her identity with that of her child/children. Her whole world and existence is lived through her kids and while it’s important to ensure your baby(ies) are taken care of, it’s equally important to remember who you are in the equation.

After all, there are many facets to your personality and they ALL need to be nurtured: woman, sister, daughter, friend, and mother. When we turn all our attention to just one aspect of who we are and neglect the others we often become unbalanced and our other relationships suffer.

It’s essential to take time for yourself away from being just a mother, because you’re more than that. Making and keeping friends means making time for them whether they have kids or not. They need your time, attention and love just as much as you need theirs. In other words, you need to make an effort. Get a baby sitter so you can have one-on-one time with a pal. Have a girlfriend over for a glass of wine after your daughter’s gone to bed. And there’s nothing wrong with having a late night out with the ladies that doesn’t involve “partying;” dinner and a movie counts! Give yourself a break so you don’t have to be “on” all the time.

What you say you want–“routine, healthier living, setting a good example, ensuring the best for my daughter and being a role model” aren’t all that different from what people (mothers and otherwise) want so you need to create an inviting, positive environment and meet others halfway. They might do things differently but that’s their prerogative. It doesn’t mean you can’t still be friends with them but you have to embrace the fact that there’s more than one way to do things and that the term “better” is completely subjective.

Loosen up some and you’ll create a more inviting atmosphere to which potential friends will gravitate.

Do you think being a mother makes it more or less difficult to make friends? 

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Comments (6)

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  1. Kelly says:

    When I was googling this topic I was hoping to find support and understanding but instead I found this blog and comments which I find really offensive. I am a feminist and a new mom. It is very, very important to me to keep my identity, my career, my passions and my friends but somethings gotta give! There is not enough time, money or energy to go around for everything. Since I work I am away from my child already so the last thing i want to do is pass him off to a babsitter that will cost way more money than it’s worth. I’ve been trying to “have it all” for the past year and its killing me, plus I still feel isolated and lonely. I value my friendships a great deal but unfortunately the idea of socializing outside of my home sounds like an exhausting obligation, so the friends that are sticking around are the ones that work with the new limitations of my life and are willing to hang out with my son around. I know it’s not fair but it is what it is. I am not super woman.

    • Irene says:

      Hi Kelly,

      Having been a working mom, I understand the stresses of trying to do it all, Kelly. It’s impossible.

      Friendships are more or less important to different people at different times in their lives. At some other time, the balance of your priorities may change, too.

      Yet, I’m not sure why you find people expressing their opinions on this particular post offensive.

      Best, Irene

  2. Kim says:

    I am in the somewhat rare position of being a woman who is childless by choice ( I do have two older stepkids, but I do not relate to them as a “mother”). In the last ten years (my 20’s), my friends have one by one joined the ranks of motherhood. My best friend was one of the first to do so, and in the beginning I was very excited for her. But I was still young, and having a baby never crossed my mind as something I felt like I wanted to do. I really didn’t anticipate the impact that that child (and subsequent ones) would have on me and my friendships.

    It started with being distanced because of the whole infant stage and them slowly recovering (some from ppd, then moved into “I’m too busy”, and finally became “We just have different interests”.

    Granted, I do not find mothering and raising children as something I’d call “fun or pleasant”, but that’s just me – I’d never force my beliefs on anyone or make them feel bad for thinking/doing differently. But because of how I feel, I never tried very hard to be included or involved in that aspect of my friends lives. I know I could have tried harder.

    But that still never stopped any of them from participating in activities that don’t involve kids. I don’t want to presume what most parents do, but the ones I know all seem so kid-absorbed that their world revolves around kids, kids, kids.

    Maybe I’m just jaded, but I find it crazy that once someone has a kid, they just seem to shut out EVERY single other aspect of their life. Suddenly they have no hobbies, no interests, no desires (that they’re willing to admit to).

    So when I get the line “we just have different interests” all I can think is DUH, that’s because you turned all of yours off!

    I don’t want to offend anyone with my comments here, and if you’re a friendly, outgoing parent who has maintained contact with your childless friends, I applaud you. I truly do believe you are a rarity. I just wanted to add this, as a lot of parents like to target blame at the childless for losing friends because “they just don’t get it”. That may be true in a lot of cases, but parents also need to consider their part in it too… have they talked to their friends about something OTHER than their kid in the last 6 months? If not, the problem may not land on the childless friends shoulders.

  3. Andrew says:

    It’s understandable that becoming a new mom effects your friendships. Having your first child is like strapping yourself into the seat of a roller coaster. It can cause you to become single focused for a while and your social life suffers as a result.

    Speaking as a father it seems it can make it more difficult for a mother to make friends especially when the child is so young. A woman has to go through months of pregnancy. Then time is needed for her body to recover after giving birth. Newborns need a lot of care and attention a lot of which is given by the mother. It can be exhausting partly because a young child can be very clingy. I am in AWE of motherhood!

    “Making and keeping friends means making time for them whether they have kids or not.”

    Absolutely. My social life actually changed very little as a father despite my new duties. I know…I know… I’m a guy! However, the reason it changed little is because I place a high priority on friendships as they are very important to me. This means that they didn’t budge from the forefront of my mind despite my entering a new phase of life.

    As a father I’m all for my wife going out and socializing while I look after our son. In fact, I wish she would do it more often. I encourage new moms to be mindful of their friendships once their lives settle and the rhythm of motherhood is established. They can arrange for their husbands to look after their child while they go out with friends. A regular time to meet up with friends during the week gives the mother time out and something to look forward to. The side benefit is that it can be great R&R and very refreshing. The whole family wins as a result.

    • Kim says:

      “However, the reason it changed little is because I place a high priority on friendships as they are very important to me. This means that they didn’t budge from the forefront of my mind despite my entering a new phase of life. ”

      So much this. I think this is absolutely, hands down the reason that friendships suffer. I know that parents, moms especially, are stressed and tired and have such a huge responsiblilty raising a kid…. but if friends are important, they will make darn sure that they give them the time they need and deserve.

      Coming from the other side of this scenario, it’s sad when a once best friend consistently doesn’t make that time for you.

  4. Melanie says:

    There’s a lot of good advice in this post for new mothers. Speaking as an older mom, I recall those early years when my son was a child. I remember how hard it was to find that balance between working my job and raising my family — and finding time for “me” in the midst of so many changes! Having friends and “time off” from motherhood was very important — though it was a challenge at times.

    But speaking of friendship, I have to say that something even lovelier happened after I became a mother. By necessity, I became involved at my son’s school, where I met MANY wonderful moms who shared the experience of working (at home or at the office) while trying to be a good parent.

    And being a good parent is a BIG challenge — which I never understood until I became a mom. Luckily, I soon became friends with the parents of my son’s friends — and we would often socialize while our kids played — or we made plans for Girls Nights Out on our own. While I still kept my single friends, I really needed to be around other mothers who could share my challenges, and I still cherish those friendships, and that time in my life, today.

    So, it’s not that all moms “lose themselves” in their children and families. Sometimes their lifestyles bring them in contact with new friends who are sharing a different experience with them. We all need a variety of friends to nurture us at different points in our lives. If we are lucky, we’ll end up with a combo of single friends and parent friends.

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