I miss my best friend: How motherhood changes friendships
“Hey there?”, my phone pinged. I had just rocked the baby to sleep, so I quickly switched it to silent, promising to respond the minute I put him down.
“We’re having a girl’s night tonight. Do you want to hang?” The phone continued to light up.
“Get a babysitter! But you have to come.”
“We missed you. Next plan,” came the reply. Sounded great, but deep inside, I knew our paths were gradually diverging.
“There?” It was 4 a.m. when I remembered the message. “Hey, sorry! I was exhausted and dozed off,” I replied.
“Lunch on Friday?!?!?!” “Please pick up.”
These are just some of the messages my best friend left me before I found myself marooned on this island of motherhood. This wasn’t a beach party for me, and all I found myself doing, like any sane person on a deserted island, was surviving, and thinking about food and shelter, and hopefully being rescued one day.
While this may make motherhood itself sound bleak, it isn’t the complete picture. But if you zoom in on the social connections—or lack thereof—being marooned on an island seems to be pretty accurate.
I was on an island. And I missed my best friend. Terribly.
Is it normal to lose friends when you have a baby?
If you’re a new mum, you must be well aware of how swiftly friendship and social dynamics change once you welcome your baby.
One of the major reasons is that parenthood brings significant changes to a person’s lifestyle, priorities, and availability, which may impact their relationships with friends who do not share the same experience.
Before you had kids, you could go party on the weekend and sleep in on Sunday. Similarly, you could squeeze in a lunch date mid-work to catch up on life and gossip with your best friend.
But now, planning that lunch means you need to find a babysitter, maybe even pump as you drive the distance, and it could possibly mean staying back to finish work. Instead of that lunch break, maybe you could tackle those two work calls, leave by 4, and make it to the doctor’s appointment?
Ah, you can relate, can’t you?
It can be tiresome and exhausting to maintain a social life once you have a fresh set of responsibilities with the newest member of the house.
But think of it as a litmus test for friendships. These social connections are put to the test!
If you have friends who are understanding and caring, and your ride or die, chances are your friends are in it for the long run. They’ll be willing to plan around your routine—maybe at a restaurant that’s child friendly or closer to your place.
However, most people are not as lucky. If you notice that your social circle is shrinking and that people are passing up opportunities to see you, it is time to make new friends.
How do you deal with losing your best friend?
Losing a best friend can be a tough and aching experience, especially when it happens right after you have given birth and are not yet in the stable phase of motherhood.
But trust me when I say that motherhood will make you find new best friends who will turn into lifelong friends.
And you’ll find them everywhere. Mums at playdates to mums at soccer practice – and you’ll sit there sharing notes on nappy rashes, and laughing over the funny antics your kid pulled that day.
My point is, it gets better.
For now, if you have lost a best friend, reach out to other friends and loved ones for support. Join motherhood support groups or sign up for a yoga class where you can meet other new mums.
How does motherhood change friendships?
Motherhood is a time of unimaginable changes, great sacrifices (hint: sleep), and a plethora of emotions raging inside you, with social pressure being a tiny part of it all.
New mothers may have less time and energy to devote to socialising and may need to adjust their schedules to accommodate their child’s needs.
They may also find they relate better to other parents and seek new friendships with other mothers. However, motherhood can also deepen existing friendships as friends support each other through the challenges and joys of parenthood.
Overall, the impact on friendships will depend on individual circumstances and the willingness of friends to adapt to new dynamics.
Is losing a best friend traumatic?
Losing a best friend can be a painful experience and may cause emotional distress. While it may not always be considered traumatic in the clinical sense, it can still significantly impact a person’s mental health and well-being.
Like I said, it’s a lot like being Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away’ and being this close to replacing your best friend with “Wilson.” (spoiler alert: There is a lot of ugly crying in this version, though.)
While losing a best friend can lead to feelings of loneliness, sadness, and even depression. It can also affect self-esteem and confidence, particularly if the loss was unexpected or due to a betrayal.
Such tough times call for a phone to your trustworthy friends and/or family with a pint of ice cream to vent to your heart’s content!
Meeting your best friend halfway
It’s unfair to only look at one side of the picture. Sometimes we are also selfish and unreasonable, assuming that our friends should understand our problems. But if you put yourself in their shoes, you will notice how being unavailable for long periods of time is also responsible for creating distance.
Are you still interested in what is going on in their lives? Are you too overwhelmed with yours?
Maybe plan lunches in advance and set aside a day to meet with them and listen to what’s going on in their world instead of just complaining about your problems.
Many friends also complain that once their friends got married or had kids, they completely forgot about them. In this case, the best solution is to talk it out and really take the time to connect. Who knows, maybe you haven’t lost a best friend – all you had to do was meet them halfway.