Thursday, February 16, 2012

Five things friends of new moms should know

Remember that friend who would drop everything to go grab a drink with you after work? The one who was always down for a last minute lunch, dinner or shopping date? The one who would chat with you on the phone for hours about absolutely everything and nothing at all? What happened to her?

She had a baby, that’s what.

Non-moms are never prepared for their friends to have babies. Neither of you are prepared for how your friendship will change when one of you is not a non-mom anymore. Last week, I gave advice to new dads. Today, I’m giving advice to non-mom-friends-of-first-time-moms.

(Look at me, all arrogant, thinking I can just start doling out advice left and right now that I’ve been a parent for a whole whopping year.)

1. Ask about the baby.

I know you’re sick of hearing about the baby because it’s all she’s talked about since the little bundle arrived, but please try to understand your friend just gave birth to a human being. That’s kind of a big deal, and she really doesn’t have anything else to talk about. She’s not up on the latest world news or even the latest gossip. Her life is centered around the baby now.

You don’t have to let baby-talk dominate the conversation, but just start out by asking about the little one. Get it out of the way in the beginning. Let her gush about how adorable he is (this is where you smile and nod in agreement), and then she can get it all out of her system so you can move on to other points of discussion.

2. Babies cannot be more flexible than grown-ups.

If your friend says she and the baby can meet you at noon, that means noon and not a moment earlier. Most likely, the baby has at least somewhat of a nap schedule. She doesn’t set the schedule – the baby does. And she’s not the boss of her anymore. If she wakes him up too early so she can meet you earlier, the baby will be tired and cranky, and your time together will not be much fun. And then her whole afternoon will be wrecked because the baby didn’t get a good morning nap.

Please don’t assume your friend expects the world to revolve around her baby. That’s not true. Please don’t assume that a tiny baby should be easy to control. That’s definitely not true. And most of all, please don’t assume that because she’s a stay-at-home-mom that she has nothing else going on that day besides a lunch date with you. Trust me, you have the ability to be more flexible than that baby does no matter how hectic your schedule seems.

3. She will be late.

When I say “noon means noon,” I mean noon means 12:30-ish. Everything is “-ish.” Again, your friend’s not trying to be inconsiderate of your schedule. It’s just very difficult to get anywhere at a certain time with a baby. Her day is unpredictable. She will struggle to get herself ready, and she doesn’t how long the baby will sleep, how long he will take to eat, how long it will take to get him dressed. Plus, the baby will inevitably take a giant crap right as they’re finally leaving, thus delaying her by ten minutes or more, depending on the size of the crap.

4. You will have to share her attention.

If the baby is with you on your outing, he will require tending to. Constantly. Your friend will sometimes be able to talk to you and listen to you, and sometimes she won’t. She will lose track of what she’s saying and you might have to repeat yourself, but that doesn’t mean you should stop and wait for her to get done tending to the baby. Because she will never be done. Ever. I know it can be frustrating to have a conversation with someone you don’t feel is listening, but please try to cut her some slack. She’s trying to please everyone at once.

5. She misses you.

Your friend loves her new baby more than life itself, but she misses her old life. Most of all she misses YOU.  She wants to talk to you about something else besides the baby, and she wishes she had something else to say. She misses the fun times the two of you used to have. Maybe you’ve stopped calling as much because there never seems to be a good time to call her. And you’re right – there isn’t. But that means right now is as good a time as any, so pick up the phone.

Bottom line – your new-mom friend has changed a lot and you haven’t, and that can put a strain on any friendship. But just be patient with her while she gets accustomed to her new life. There will be room for you in it as long as you’re willing to stick around.

Hey moms, what do you wish your non-mom friends understood?