Today, my very good friend D is closing on her house and moving back to her home state, Illinois. I've known her for many years (nine? ten?) and I'm going to miss her like crazy. We met when we volunteered together; we then worked together briefly; we became friends. We have laughed together; cried together; confided in each other. Most recently we shared our first pregnancies and have been navigating the rough waters of new motherhood together. Her advice and support have been invaluable. I will miss that.
Her departure has really highlighted how disconnected I feel from many of my friends; the friends she and I have shared over the years. I was the first in this group to become pregnant and have a baby and I was thrill when D found out she was pregnant just a few months after me.
She has been there for me - she has continued to call me; to visit with me; to invite me to do things and go places. Many of my other friends have not. I'm often not included on the list of invitees for a movie night or an afternoon at the pool or dinner parties or drinks after work or trips to the mall. Where I used to be included I'm now left out. With D's departure, I worry that I will be forgotten completely.
Parenthood can be hard on friendships. This is something that none of the books tell you, how to navigate friendship post partum. I know it has been difficult for some of my friends to accept; my new identity as mom, my new job as stay-at-home mother. It's been hard for me, too.
I make excuses for them. They don't know what is a good time to call, so they just don't call at all. They think it will be too difficult for me to find a sitter at the last minute so they don't invite me to impromptu happy hours or movie nights. They think toddlers are too much of a handful to invite to cook outs or pool parties; that I'll just spend all my time chasing them and not have any fun. But, they could still call right? Invite me even though they think I won't attend? Just so I won't feel like a friendless loser?
And, it's my fault too. I don't call either. I don't invite anyone over. I'm tired all the time. All I talk about is my kids. Maybe that's it? I'm just not all that interesting anymore?
There's also the fact that in the past two years, their lives have changed as well. There have been new jobs and new homes and new relationships and break ups and graduate school and millions of other life changes. So possibly this growing apart would have happened anyways and that it has nothing, or very little, to do with my status as SAHM of two. But I doubt that, as many of them are still very connected to one another. It feels very much like I am the only one on the outside.
And, it's not to say none of my old friends ever call. My friend Amy came over this week to help with the boys when I asked; she regularly emails to touch base. My friend Kate always makes sure I'm on the invite list for happy hours, even though she knows that chances of my making it in to DC during happy hour (= dinner, bed, bath time in these parts) are slim to none. I am invited to wine club events, when they occur. But my other friend Kate (I know lots of Kates and Amys, what can I say)? I haven't heard from her since shortly before I had Oscar. She didn't even call after he was born to congratulate me. I was so hurt, I never bothered to call her again.
This has been a hard pill to swallow, feeling left out. It was harder after Oscar; I've come to accept it now that I'm entering my third year of motherhood. I've made some new friends, but I'm not a playgroup Mommy so it's been tough. I've reconnected with some old friends who are parents of small children close in age to my own. That has been incredibly gratifying and I am thankful beyond words for them. They keep me centered; they make me feel connected; they validate my feelings and frustrations; they get me out of the house. Some of them live hundreds or thousands of miles away, but I still count them among my closest friends these days. I know I'm lucky to have them in my life.
I miss very little about my life before Oscar and Miles were born. I do not miss my office job. I do not miss my fancy clothes or expensive hair cuts. I do not miss drinking to excess or the way it left me feeling the next morning. But I do miss my friends.