A Letter To My Friend Without Children: I'm Sorry

by Kimberly Zapata
motherhood friendship childfree
PeopleImages / iStock

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for the state of our friendship. I’m sorry for the way things have changed. I’m sorry for the way I have changed.

You see, motherhood has changed me. I don’t need to tell you that. (Just because you aren’t a mom—or dad—doesn’t mean you don’t understand how life works.) Becoming a parent is a monumental, exciting and terrifying event. But we both knew that going in. You knew it would change me, as did I.

We accepted some things as par for the parenting course. We knew we would talk less, see each other less. We knew my once-prompt ass would become chronically late, and we knew there would be parties I simply couldn’t attend, celebrations I wanted to share in but couldn’t thanks to an unplanned illness or a sitter with “a scheduling conflict.”

But what I didn’t know was how much it would change me. Not “Mommy” me, but everyday me (which, at this point, is one-in-the-same).

You still try. You come to visit; you bring gifts for my daughter, and most importantly, you bring yourself. You ask how I am and I you, but we rarely get anywhere; by time you start talking about your date last Friday or what that bitch in the office did, I am running away to pull my daughter off of the dining room table or keep her from coloring on her bedroom walls. I yell back to let you know I am still listening. I apologize when I return and we get back to the topic at hand, but you never get more than a few sentences out before something else comes up, before she wants to use the potty—because she is pants-less and running down the hall—or needs a cup of milk, a glass of juice or an afternoon snack. So I’m sorry for every half-hearted conversation, every good-intentioned moment which takes a backseat to boo-boos” or another round of “Wheels on the Bus.”

Please know that it is not that I don’t care about you, your career, your latest trip to Las Vegas or the sexy details of your single life. In fact, I do care—very much so—and I would give anything to hear about it for five freakin’ minutes, but between the late nights, early mornings, and Sofia marathons I am barely keeping it together. (Yes, the all-night feedings have stopped and we are approaching the end of Amelia’s “diaper days”—I hope!—but I am no less frazzled than I was 2½ years ago.)

The truth is I’m trying. I know that doesn’t always come through, and for that I’m sorry, but it is hard to express anything when you mind is a ball of mush—of schedules and plans (which aren’t yours) and curveballs, like conjunctivitis or the family flu. Sure, I used to be able to juggle a thousand tasks at once (you used to affectionately/begrudgingly call me “cruise director Kim”). But now everything has gone out the window, and the only structure I hope to maintain is nap time, aka the time of day I eat and shower.

Everything else has fallen to the wayside, and that includes you.

So, I’m sorry that when we talk on the phone it is mainly about me and my daughter. (Actually, it is you listening to me yell at my daughter to get down or get something of her mouth, followed by my apology to you.) I’m sorry that when you email me it takes me days—and, sometimes, weeks—to respond. And I’m sorry I text you so many damn pictures of my daughter. The truth is sometimes that is the only way I know how to start a conversation anymore. It is the only way I know how to break the ice. It is the only way I know how to reconnect to you.

I love you. I love the person you are, and I want to know how you are. And so, for that reason, I beg you to keep trying. I know I have no right to ask that: Our friendship shouldn’t rest on your shoulders, but I need you, and this is the only way I can ask for your help.

So, I’m sorry if I seem distracted. I’m sorry if I seem disinterested. I’m sorry if I am distant. Know that my frantic insanity and constant forgetfulness isn’t a reflection of you or my feelings toward our friendship. It is a reflection of me: a new(ish) mom still trying to find her footing, still trying to figure out her new life.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not listening. And it doesn’t mean I don’t care. Because I do. I really, really do. It just may take me a few minutes (or a few years) to get this parenting thing down.