Missing in Action: Losing Friends to Parenthood

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Everyone keeps asking for her.  Where your girl? How come she isn’t liming? How she get so stale? One baby and she gone through!

This is the tale of my friend who has abandoned the troops for a more rewarding venture. She’s the instigator of our girls’ night out, my drinking partner when I was going through my tribulations, and she hers, my take a bus to go down South buddy… hmm… someone who always had a tale to tell. All those days seem lost. Responsibility has set in where whimsy flourished unabated.

She always wanted to have a baby and she really did say she’d do it, husband or no husband, man or no man. I always told her a baby was a major responsibility, which you are never fully prepared for. It changes your life – and your lifestyle – and there’s no turning back. But she did it anyway and she is one of the happiest mothers I know. Her six-month-old baby boy comes first, and that’s how it should be, especially for a first-time, single mother, who is adjusting to the scope of parental duties, in addition to the demands of a full-time job.

Still, while another girlfriend and I have been actually having a fun time acquiring this and that for the Christmas, my friend isn’t into it as much. Instead of shopping for gifts, she has plans to go South for baby furniture and toys. She’s into drool, crushed fruits and diaper rash.

Although I’m getting used to the changes that have taken place, I am amazed at the subtle ways she has grown, embracing her new role as a mother. In life, everyone has transitions to go through, and being a mother myself, I can relate to the process. The worry, the tiredness, the restless nights, the need to get away, as well as the need to have your baby close… Your single or childless friends do not fully comprehend what you are going through, and still believe that you can throw on your clothes at a moment’s notice to go out.

They might even say you’re being too overprotective with your child, but having a baby is not some fad. When a baby comes into your life you can’t return it or ask for an exchange if you aren’t happy with what you’ve got! It’s yours for life. Suddenly it isn’t about you anymore. You now have this tiny, wiggly being constantly demanding your full attention and love. Your time and finances are now redirected from things you once deemed important to milk, diapers and doctor visits. Additionally, a baby doesn’t come with a manual, and though information on parenting is abundant, it also varies like the weather. So you just have to figure a lot of things out on your own. You can read about it, watch “Baby Story” and even listen as friends talk about it, but in the end motherhood is something you have to experience first-hand in order to truly understand.

Thankfully, when you have gotten into full gear and feel confident in your new role the balancing act becomes easier. A baby is like a new partner in your life, where you need time to adjust and get to know each other. A new mother needs support from family and friends ‘cause it’s tougher going through the journey alone. From marriage, to parenthood, to a new job, a divorce or the death of a loved one… when you have close friends and something changes in their life, it somehow affects yours. It mightn’t be sudden or dramatic, but things become different. Either it will call on you to step back, or step up.

In this scenario it requires a little of both! Letting your friend be a mommy (or daddy for the fellas) by listening and assisting however you can and stepping in occasionally to bring out the person who existed before – as one can indeed become lost in the vastness of this new role.

My friend isn’t the first friend to become a mother – but she could have been considered as the last of the Mohicans. So now I’m thinking, there goes the days of living vicariously through my carefree, independent, fun-loving, unfettered friend. But because of this ripple in the matrix, I have come to realise what an important role friendship plays in my life and the co-dependence that we have on others – whether we admit it or not. For now I have stepped back to let her do her thing, but I am here for her; in fact, I have already fulfilled my babysitting duties. Yes! I discovered that I can still burp a baby.

When someone becomes a parent, priorities shift because they have to (that’s if you’re a responsible parent). It may take some time, but your friend will be back. For now she’s just overwhelmed and tired. I recall visiting my friend who hadn’t slept in two days because of her baby. After we spent some time catching up, the baby finally fell asleep in my arms, and as I looked across to share the good news, my friend lay slouched on the couch, chin dropped on her chest. She was out cold. I let the poor dear sleep, and watched her, reminiscing about my early days as a mom. Still, I hope she knows that I’m holding her to her word that her current MIA status is close to expiry, as J’ouvert 2011 is around the corner.

My advice to new mothers out there is to enjoy every minute of it; they do grow up too fast. Yes, it gets easier, but the work and worry never stops. Oh and to the single, childless friends of new mothers never say never and like a true friend be there. So relish your new role as aunty, godparent and babysitter, and yep, your finances and time just got jacked too!

 

Image courtesy essence.com.

 

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Danielle Martin is a writer at heart, having crafted her first poem at the age of seven. Since then, she has gathered experience in the fields of journalism and advertising. She believes that the best limes are spontaneous, and that life really is too short.

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