By Holly A. Phillips
A few months ago, one of my friends gave birth to her first child. I got the news via text, and was of course, elated.
“Had I given off the vibe that I wasn’t even ready to wish the baby welcome? I mean yes, I like to drink, and sometimes I cuss too much, but I wouldn’t do that around a baby.”
In the months leading up to the birth, I was nervous — for her and the baby’s health, and selfishly, I was nervous for the fate of our friendship.
I didn’t get invited to a baby shower, so I wasn’t sure if she skipped on that tradition, or if I hadn’t been invited.
I ran into a mutual friend of ours a few weeks after the baby had been born.
“I am so ready to meet the baby!” she said.
“Me too,” I said. “But I don’t know when they’ll be ready for visitors.”
I was hoping she’d give me some insight; I didn’t know the protocol for friends-with-babies. This was my closest friend to ever have a child.
I had picked out a gift, searched for one-dish recipes to cook and bring to their home, but was waiting on an invitation.
“Well, things do change when you have kids,” she said, resting her hand on her well-developed, second-baby bump.
Yes, I knew things would change. But would our friendship end? I felt like all of the sudden, I was wearing the same stinky perfume that all single, non-moms wear.
Had I given off the vibe that I wasn’t even ready to wish the baby welcome? I mean yes, I like to drink, and sometimes I cuss too much, but I wouldn’t do that around a baby.
“You could be the ‘friend-aunt,’” suggested a friend, “You know, Aunt Holly, haven’t you ever been given that title?”
I shook my head, realizing my fate.
While I found comfort in my close friends without children, I’m aware that many of my acquaintances have at least one child, if not two or three.
It sometimes feels like there’s an unspoken rule: once you’ve got kids, skip out on the childless friends.
“It’s got nothing to do with you,” a friend told me over a bottle of Prosecco. “It’s more about them, and their new family.”
I understood, but that doesn’t mean I felt good about it.
At 23, I had an abortion. And even more than five years later, sometimes I wonder if the universe is punishing me for it in small ways.
I know it was the right decision for me, at the time. I was bartending, dating a man who was cheating on me, and given that I could barely find the money for the procedure, I knew I couldn’t raise a child.
Someday, maybe it will be right for me — when I have a supportive partner, and a providing, loving home for a little one.
As an only child, I’ve realized that I’m not even good at interacting with children, which could be a source to my problem. However, my last boyfriend had a daughter, and I think I did a pretty good job of taking her places, planning homemade pizza nights, and packing picnics. It takes practice.
“I think you’d make a good mom,” my trainer told me, mid-workout. “Feisty, but good.”
So, no, I’m not a mom. I have a cat, Blanche, and although she’s a handful, I know she’s not a child. I may not understand the math behind feeding times and diaper changes, or care about sanitizing bottles. But I never want to lose a friend – especially just because of motherhood.
Perhaps we can bridge the gap and learn from each other.
The mothers can share their stories about sleepless nights due to crying, and the singletons can spill their gossip about sleepless nights because of… well, crying.
See? Maybe we’ve got more in common than the world makes it seem.
Read more about Holly’s life as a non-mom on her blog, TheBitterLemon.com.
Welcoming a Baby
How to Deal When a Friend has a Child:
1. Wait for the Invite- Most of the time, close family and friends will be the only ones at the home, until the new parents are ready.
2. Bring Food– New parents are excited, but they’re tired, and cooking is the last thing they want to do.
3. Offer to Help- If you haven’t heard from the new parents, reach out to let them know you’re there for them and their new family.