Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Good Mom, Meh Friend

I have to be careful how I write this post, so I don't come off as "Oh woe is me!" That's not the point.  This is meant to be an observation, a realization maybe, not a whine fest. So please read with that in mind.

Before I was a mom, I like to think I was a good friend. I did my best to always make myself available for a good cry/meltdown/nervous breakdown when my friends needed me.  I tried to give good advice from the heart when they asked for it.  I gave out hugs like they were going out of style.  And I always showed up when and where I said I would.  I laughed, cried, and watched stupid movies with my friends.  I cooked for them, baked them their favorites if they had a bad day, and hosted parties just for the heck of it ("You woke up cranky today? Let's have a party! That will make you feel better!")

I wasn't the best friend in the world - by any means - but there was never any doubt that I wanted to be.  If I could have figured out a way to be the perfect friend, I would have done it, then turned around and taught a class on it.  But I'm only human. And while some of my friends called my "mom" as a joke, I liked to think that I offered a similar level of reliability and compassion to them.

And now... I am a mom.  Not their mom, Ellie's mom. During my pregnancy, the thing that kept me up at night and set me off crying regularly, was a fear that becoming a mom would make me not a "mom" to my friends, just another one of those women who disappears because she has a baby.  Or only talks about what her baby is doing/eating/pooping today.  She becomes a recluse, starts to be unreliable to everyone but her child, and maybe isn't the best friend she could be anymore.

I didn't want that to happen.

It happened anyway.

The truth is, I have to use the same part of my heart for my daughter as I did for those friends.  I had to learn how to make it all fit together, how to be there for everyone all the time.  I did try, for as long as I could.  But my life doesn't leave me time for everything I want to do, just for the things I need to do.  I work from home. I'm on 24-hour Baby Duty, almost 7 days a week. I'm trying to publish a novel (so that will BE my working from home one day, not an extra hobby). Things like phone calls fall through the cracks - I always answer (now, anyway) but I don't always get the chance to pick up and dial. Things like baking cookies and throwing parties are just another "chore" now, not a joy.  It feels empty sometimes, but it's also tremendously fulfilling, to do what I'm doing.  I'm lonely some days.  Others, I just want to be alone. (REALLY alone, not 'alone with the baby and the dog.')  Taking care of me is the last priority, so where does that put everything else?

Here's the part where everyone says things like, "It's only temporary" or "Just make more of an effort."

But I'm tired. I'm toast.  I've spent a lot of time worrying what everyone thought about me - my whole life, actually - and it's exhausting.  My good friends see this, they understand.  They remember when I had time for all of those things and they give me wiggle room for now, knowing I'd be better if I knew how.  They know I'm not really avoiding them.  And if they think that, they don't know me very well at all.

I hope that if you're reading this, you're one of those friends.  Or at least, you are now.  If I knew how to be the perfect friend AND the perfect mom, I would.  But right now, my life is about Ellie and my family.  And occasionally, when I can sneak one in, a bubble bath.

Thanks for letting me vent. I know there are other moms out there in the same boat, even if they swore they wouldn't be.  Here we all are, eternally torn. And sometimes, a bit heartbroken.  Things change, I'll get over it, and someone else will step up to bake cookies and hand tissues to her crying friend.  She'll be the new "mom" and I'll be "the friend with the kid" and one day, that will be enough.


Nicole said...

For those days when you just want to be alone... give me a shout. I'm still unemployed. I'd be willing to come Ellie-and-Penny-sit for a couple hours so you can have some "me time"!

Stephanie said...

Thanks, Nicole!

Post a Comment