To My Friends Who Became Mothers Before Me

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mothers-firstMother and baby via Shutterstock

To my seasoned, knowledgeable, forgiving best friends who jumped off the cliff into motherhood long before I did:

I’m sorry I ever uttered the words “I’m so tired” in your presence; I had no idea what tired really means.

I’m sorry I bought you that book about making homemade organic baby food. REALLY sorry.

I’m sorry I thought it was fun for my boyfriend and I to be your house guests when you were a few days from giving birth. What was I thinking?

I’m sorry I called you crying about my single girl drama when you had babies and toddlers and husbands needing you 24/7. I know now that talking on the phone when you have small children is pure torture;  I don’t know how or why you made time to listen.

I’m sorry for not shutting up when you were sleep deprived. I didn’t know what it does to your attention span. I should have sat with you in silence and rubbed your feet.

I’m sorry for not bringing you food. I should have done your dishes. Or taken out your garbage. Or folded your laundry. I remember the day you made me lunch while you fed your toddler and made a cake. Are you human?

I’m sorry for not coming over more. We could have watched TV in our sweats after the kids were in bed. Why did I think you would want to meet me downtown for margaritas?

I’m sorry about my baby envy and for letting it get in the way of my ability to be fully present for you.

I’m sorry for being totally oblivious to your kids’ meal and nap schedules.

Thank you for standing by me through my self-absorbed years while you wiped butts and scrubbed vomit and soothed screaming babies and forgot about yourself while I obsessed over totally meaningless things.

I wish I would have told you what an amazing job you were doing every day.

You are amazing, and I am so proud of you, and so truly grateful to (still) be your friend.

Comments

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  1. 1

    says

    Perfect. I wish I had done more for my mommy friends before I was busy with my own. It’s amazing how much perspective is gained once you see things from the other side. Great stuff. Thank you.

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  2. 2

    Jessica says

    Hit a nerve! I used to view baby announcements as an annoyance, because it meant that my friend would no longer be fun or have anything in common with me. Not I have two beautiful boys and spend my days doing endless piles of laundry and trying to reassure myself that I still have an identity. And ALL of my closest friends are mommies. Thank you for articulating the feelings in my heart!

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  3. 3

    says

    My sister had children before I did and I cringe about all the parenting advice I tried to give her. Now I look back and see that she was really struggling. All I did was tell her “try this” and “try that” and of course I’d pop in for a drink before I headed off to the bar with my friends. She didn’t need parenting advice. She was doing an awesome job. What she needed was a friend, someone to stay home with her on a Saturday night. :( Flash forward five years and I remember practically begging my non-kid friends to come over for a visit. The Stay at Home Mom gig can be pretty lonely.

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  4. 6

    says

    I can, thankfully, say I never did any of this, except maybe the tired part…but I did come by that somewhat honestly being in a business that requires travel. A LOT if travel. But I would go to my friends’ and hold their babies while they took a shower. I went and took over their kitchens and did my most hated chore: by the dishes, then cooked enough food for days and cleaned it again.
    I sat vigil on Mother’s Day when my friend’s 4 month old underwent open heart surgery and got yelled at by a nurse for loving the sick baby in the next bed who had no one.
    I went on shopping sprees for baby clothes/toys. And I loved it.
    THESE are the things moms need! I wish If had someone to do that for me.

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  5. 15

    Lexi BG says

    Yes, mothers work hard and are on the clock 24/7, but articles like this that trivialize non-mothers drive me nuts. The implication that women without kids are “self absorbed and obsess over meaningless things”, or that “single girl drama” is not important enough to bother mothers with, is rude and cliche. Everyone works hard, everyone is tired, everyone has drama that is valid and important to them, and not all interests of childless women are meaningless. Wow. I’m guessing the author didn’t maintain many of her friendships with her childless friends if this is how she views them. True friends are there for each other no matter what. I listen to my mother friends complain endlessly about changing diapers and nap times and tantrums and they can listen to my meaningless, self absorbed drama!

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    • 16

      Kimberly Boyd says

      This is exactly what I think every time I read an article like this but I never say it. Thanks for saying it for me! Also, what is up with the assumption that women who don’t have children are single and self-obsessed and living a life of drama? I’m childless and have been happily enjoying my non-drama filled relationship for the past 19 years now. Another assumption that really bugs me about articles like this is that the natural progression of a woman’s life will always bring children. Some women are are childless by choice and some are childless not by choice and those women are not stunted in any way.

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    • 17

      Kim says

      I am pretty positive she is saying all of the negative things about HERSELF. I’d say a lot of these about my childless self. It doesn’t mean I would say or think the same about my childless friends. Some of us are just more self-absorbed than others.

      That doesn’t mean all formerly self-absorbed mothers think non-mothers are self-absorbed and trivial. Of course their not!!!

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      • 18

        Bonnie Koehn says

        Thank you, Kim. I am writing about MYSELF here, not making generalizations. Not all childless women are the same, just as all mothers are not the same. There is plenty of selfishness or selflessness on both sides. We all have different experiences and personalities.

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        • 19

          Kimberly Boyd says

          I’m not writing this to be mean and I do say it with respect but I think you don’t understand how this blog post reads to women who are not mothers. From my perspective it seems like a piece that is ostensibly about apologizing to your friends who you were inconsiderate of when you were not a mother but instead is really about patting yourself on the back for being so much more worthy now that you are a mother. Again, I’m not trying to be mean and I certainly don’t know you. I’m just saying that that is how the this post reads to me. It seems to make wild generalizations about all types of women, those who are mothers and those who are not. I think the reason why some of us are reacting as we are to this post is twofold:
          1. I would imagine that most of us have seen quite a few of these types of posts in our facebook feeds lately. I know that I have one particular new mother friend who posts stuff like this regularly. The accumulation of many of these articles is probably what tipped me over the edge into commenting on this one.
          2. This post seems to me to be one that was written to be sort of inspirational. The fact that it comes off that way says to me that you meant for it to be something that many women would or could empathize with. For that reason, it seems correct that some women are taking issue with the incredible generalizations you’ve made. I mean, you meant for it to be generalizable didn’t you? As an inspirational piece it would have to be. Maybe I’m wrong and you did just mean for this to be an apology to your friends but then why didn’t you just send your friends an email rather than making it into a blog post?
          Just, FYI, I re-posted this article with a bit about why it is bothersome to me on my facebook page and pretty much all of my friends agreed with me, mothers and non-mothers alike. Surprisingly, the mothers took issue with the image of mothers as saints/martyrs as much as my non-mother friends took issue with the idea that they are little more than silly little self-obsessed girls who couldn’t possibly understand the meaning of the word tired.

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          • 20

            Carrie says

            Yes!!! Kimberly, that’s how I read it too.

            Why can’t we all accept that we learn and progress through life DIFFERENTLY?

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          • 22

            Nadej says

            OMG Childless women! Let it go. This post does not target you in anyway. It addresses mothers. Nothing to complain about here. The author speaks her mind, her experience is not meant to reflect on you as a person. And she is not obligated to write stuff that everybody can relate to or like. Deal with it.

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          • 23

            VF says

            I don’t see this article as mothers vs. non mothers but more of an explanation of what it’s like when life changes for a friend. Having children can be the tipping point in a friendship, where some childless friends fear to tread. In my childless years, friends were there for my break-ups, my failures, my successes, to support me when I was down. But, being a new mother seems to be one area that women are supposed to manage on their own. They can be exhausted, overwhelmed, emotional and yet receive little help and support from their once very-present friends. It has less to do with the martyrdom of becoming a parent, and more to do with the continued need of a support system (and a little empathy) during a huge transition.

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          • 24

            SamanthaIam says

            Completely, K. I read it that way as well! It does absolutely come across as over-generalizing to all mothers, and I’m a mom. I’m sorry, I’m a really good mom, but I don’t need my friend to rub my feet at the end of the day (!). I want to be there for my single friends issues, which frankly are just as real as mine, as much as I want them to be there for mine. Also: mother tiredness is not always that bad, and doesn’t beat everyone else’s. I know lots of professionals who work longer and keep more demanding hours than I do, and I have three kids.

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    • 26

      RCB says

      Danke!
      I too always think this whenever I read these types of articles…like, I get it — on the grand scale, our problems are different now.
      That does not mean they cease to be problems.

      I don’t like how these articles insult both groups of women – they reduce the single-and-childless to vapid, whining party girls whose lives “are, like, SO hard, yknow?”, and reduce the mothers to self-important, helicopter-mom shrews.

      I won’t ever apologize for ‘complaining’ about my ‘tripe’, though. Just as I’d never act like a dick and expect my mom-friends to apologize for theirs.

      Besides, friends aren’t supposed to get into pissing contests like that, anyway.

      Correct Way:
      “Ben cheated on me, I can’t get our tickets to Maui refunded, and I was up all night sick and crying over it”
      “Aww honey, I’m sorry”
      “That’s okay, thanks for listening; I know you’ve been up all night with Piper and everything”

      Incorrect Way:
      “Ben cheated and I’ve been up all night, crying”
      “Yeah well, Piper has colic and Regan screams the score to Yo Gabba Gabba, so, deal with it”
      “Well I’m sure you’ll get a nap, seeing as how you stay at home and all”

      I have good friends, though =)
      (And I pity the fools who don’t)

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    • 27

      A says

      I would definitely agree if the author was making sweeping generalizations about ALL non-mothers. However, she never strays from saying “I”. She’s speaking from her own experiences, and nobody else’s. I personally can relate, but of course not all people will relate to everything they read. Also, I would tend to call a piece like this a “blog post”, which reflects the individual blogger’s personal viewpoint and opinions, as opposed to an “article”, which implies that it is be unbiased and objectively researched. Just my two cents. :-) In general, thank you, Scary Mommy, for posting about a variety of different subjects from myriad angles. I often get exactly what I need when I come here, and even when I don’t, I’m glad that other deserving mommies are getting what they need!

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    • 28

      Ana says

      I empathise that things get more complicated once a child arrives as an individual needs to adapt to a new way of Iiving and to cater 24/7 to another being. However, oneself shouldn’t feel lesser for having needs also as a single childless person. Single and childless individuals also have needs, issues, also get knackered – for different resons such as working 70 hours a week under the pressure of a deadline. I don’t think my existence is any less important or meaningful than that of individuals baring children. We all have different choices in life and choosing to stay single and childless shouldn’t be treated as selfish and pointless. I respect who makes the choice of becoming parents and I would like to be respected for making the choice to stay single and childless and spend my time studying, traveling, working hard and having the right to complaint I’m overworked, tired….

      I am sure your life was meaningful and precious before your husband and children. I know that mine is and I won’t make any excuses for that.

      I hope you see also the positive of having children and a husband.

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      • 29

        Bonnie Koehn says

        We are all entitled to our own feelings and experiences, but I am beginning to wonder whether some of you read the article I wrote… or stopped reading clearly after a few sentences and just made the rest up. I am not generalizing about all mothers or all childless women. I am speaking about MY very specific personal experiences with MY friends before and after having my child.

        My life wasn’t trivial or meaningless before motherhood, and isn’t now. NOBODY’S life is either of those things. We all make valid choices, whatever they may be.

        Acknowledging the gap that occurs in female friendships once we hit certain phases of life is one way to minimize it, and learn to love and support each other better.

        Ana, if you’d read my bio or any of my previous comments, you may have been less judgemental and more compassionate.

        Peace to all of you who misread, misunderstood, or make judgements or assumptions. I wish you the best, whatever your choices in life.

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        • 30

          Eliza says

          “I am beginning to wonder whether some of you read the article I wrote… or stopped reading clearly after a few sentences and just made the rest up.”

          Have you considered taking responsibility for your recklessly written piece instead of trying to make it’s critics seem somehow inept. You are so quick to congratulate yourself on apologizing to friends you hurt in the past, but you have no consideration for people you have hurt now. You just add insult to injury. It seems as though it is you who lacks compassion. And your pride in not recognizing that your piece was hurtful to many (intentional or not) speak volumes to your character.

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        • 31

          Carrie says

          Bonnie,

          One thing people haven’t mentioned is this.

          By apologizing to your friends, you are perpetuating a societal divide that already exists. By apologizing, even just for your actions to your friends who became mothers sooner than you, you marginalize your own thoughts and feelings of your younger self. By marginalizing yourself, you perpetuate those who already do it without the self-awareness you are trying to show. Sure, you now have a sense of empathy having gone through child-rearing yourself. But that doesn’t mean you should feel bad about your single lady actions. They make you who you are today. Why should you be sorry for things that happened so long ago? Acknowledging lessons learned is one thing. Being sorry is quite another.

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    • 32

      Louise O'Neil says

      Yes, yes and YES! U nailed it. Thank u. I’m NOT sorry I have a life that is perceived as less important because I haven’t had a child. I AM sorry though that my life interferes with those who perceive themselves as above me due to the fact that they procreated. The smugness and holier-than-thou attitude makes me see pure red. You’ve had a baby luv – either by choice, bad luck or poor decision making – don’t make it sound like you’re contributing to world peace.

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      • 33

        Alex says

        AMEN! Like this article, I see a LOT of self–aggrandizing going on with new mothers. Especially where they belittle the lives of women without children. Often they trivialize the struggles of others and inflate their own. So much self pitting and then turning back around and bragging about their sacrifices. Jez-us. It shouldn’t be like that. Blogs like this are written to have high “share” value but with little concern for the hurt and prejudice they are spreading. They only encourage division between women of different circumstance further oppressing our sex. Women with or without children should just roll their eyes at this type of self-aggrandizing blaaaahhhhog dribble and move on to something of more value. We can do better.

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    • 34

      Elle says

      Thanks for giving some much needed perspective to the author who has clearly lost hers. I am also not a mother yet and most of my friends do have kids. I am happy for all of hem and love their kids like I love them. But trivializing the life of women before kids is marginalizing and offensive.

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    • 35

      Amy says

      Thank you for speaking up. I am a 24/7 stepmom for two kids with an absentee dysfuntional bio. I couldn’t feel more marginalized most of the time and sometimes when looking for help i just get more hurt. Moms aren’t owed apologies, they had kids and it was hard. Its hard on everyone around them, too. I worked really hard to be responsible and not have babies i couldn’t handle and nobody is handing me any “I’m sorry” notes or phone calls for being responsible in another way. Responsibility bites, but it doesn’t make you better than other people, it just makes you stronger, which is essentially its own reward. I forgive my friends that don’t get why I’m not readily available anymore, because they are innocent of the knowledge of how tough it is to have little people attached to you all the time and they deserve to enjoy that rather than get dragged down by guilt that they somehow owe me their sympathy and understanding for something they have almost no concept of.

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      • 39

        Jessie Harris says

        Honestly, I think that everyone in this list of comments sounds naive. It is an extremely annoying truth that before you have children, you cannot possibly understand what it is like to have children. It’s maddening when people say that to you before you have kids – and it’s also extremely true. In a way, by taking issue with the things the author is saying, you are helping to make her point. You (and she, before children) just don’t understand. That’s ok – you don’t have to and nobody expects you to. But if/when you ever get to the other side, you will look at your behaviour and you will look at comments like the one above and you will smile ruefully and say ‘yeah, I really had no idea what I was talking about’ and that’s exactly what the author is doing here.

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        • 43

          Shira says

          @Jessie Harris: I’m a mom and I disagree. I’ve always tried to be considerate and respectful of people’s feelings, whether or not they or I have kids. Listening to and empathizing with a friend and trying to be considerate of their circumstances has nothing to do with having kids or not. Telling someone “you can never really be tired until you have kids” etc. is pretty much the opposite of that.

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    • 44

      Scw says

      Amen, Lexi! I am so sick and tired of moms who think they have the book written on “tired”. Give me a break! And insinuating that the things childless women and men care about are meaningless and trivializing their concerns? BS.

      Hey! I might spend NIGHtS caring for an elderly neighbor, or days running a non-profit! Does that mean I can say I’m tired yet?

      This sounds like it was written by a new mom in the honeymoon stages of babyhood.

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    • 45

      SamanthaIam says

      Thank you SO much for posting this. This is exactly how I feel. Yes, motherhood is important, but also sometimes full of needless and silly worries and anxieties (from my own experience) and a lot of blathering about things that could also be considered trivial. Not everything baby-related is sacred or important. I think if us moms expect that worlds and friendships and conversations all revolve around our children, we’ll find ourselves short of friends pretty quickly.

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