When your best friend is also a parent, it adds a new level of closeness to your relationship. Becoming a mother is such a huge shift in your life, and having a bestie who understands what you’re going through is immensely helpful. Instead of calling them for relationship advice in the middle of the night, you’re texting them because the baby is up again, and you’re running on what feels like five minutes’ sleep, and your boobs are heavy and leaking at the same time. She doesn’t care if you haven’t showered in days when she comes over, and she’ll hold down the fort so you can finally feel human again. And it’s even better if your kids are close in age and you’re in the trenches together.
But what if your bestie, the same person who has seen you at your worst, judges you as a mother? Is it something that you can just blow off, or is it something that will damage your friendship?
Obviously, no two people will mother the same way. But this goes deeper than just doing things differently; it’s the calling out of the differences. It can be something as simple as the way they say something. For example, “Oh, you’re using a wrap carrier? Seems like an expensive piece of fabric to me.”
I mean, yes, to each their own, but it’s difficult to hear, especially from the person who should be the last person to judge you. When you’re mothering on different ends of the parenting spectrum, the judgmental comments may be more frequent, and seem a lot more personal, because it goes deeper than just a preference, it feels like a critique of who you are as a person.
Motherhood is super hard, especially in the beginning. You’re in a different emotional state as it is, and it’s impossible not to compare yourself to other moms. Every decision is fraught with indecision; it’s a constant battle of “am I doing the right thing?” and now, with social media, it’s even harder not to fall into the trap of self-doubt with every step you take.
So obviously you’d turn to your best friend, because they know you better than anyone else. They know how to deal with you when you’re in a heightened emotional state, and how to talk you off the ledge when you just can’t anymore.
So when they have something less than supportive to say about what you’re doing, it is like a blow to the ego, even more than if it was coming from a stranger. Trish from the Facebook mommy group you’re in can go fuck herself, but you may feel differently telling your best friend the same thing, no matter how honest you can be with them.
No one wants to feel like they’re a bad mother, and that’s why it’s so much harder to hear comments from your best friend about your parenting choices. Because at the end of the day, the smallest throwaway comment can make you feel like complete garbage. “Oh you’re still ‘fill in the blank’? I just couldn’t,” seems a lot harsher when it’s coming from the person who’s always supposed to have your back.
Their comments will worm their way into your inner thoughts way more than the comments from some rando from music class will. Because no matter what, they’re your best friend. They know you deep down, and they should know what’s fundamentally important to you, whether it be breastfeeding, or sleeping, or how you dress your kids.
And sometimes the judgment isn’t coming from a bad place, but rather a place of not understanding. “Well, how did you let it get so far? My kid may not like x,y,z, but they just deal with it.” Which is all well and good for their kid, but maybe not for yours.
Every kid is so different, and sometimes we’re measuring each other’s kids by our own kid’s yardstick, which is leaving out a lot of fundamental differences. Just because her kid eats whatever she puts in front of them doesn’t mean yours will. Kids have their own personalities, and it’s easy for us as moms to internalize the things that make them individuals. And sometimes, it’s those things that can create the judgments.
Because we’re all sensitive as mothers, it may be hard to bring your feelings up to your friend. You don’t want to hurt their feelings, and you don’t want to make something a bigger deal than it may be. So things manifest themselves in different ways. If your friend is the type of person who may be more sensitive about hearing how they’re hurting your feelings, then you have to decide how to make your friendship work for you.
You may begin to pull away from them to give them less opportunity to say something, and that’s easy because, hello, we’re all busy. Cutting back the time you spend together is a good way to collect your thoughts and figure out a way to tell your friend how their comments may be hurting you. Having distance from them will give you the clarity you need to decide if it’s worth talking about. If it’s something that really bothers you and you know they’ll be receptive, you should be able to tell them what they’re doing is hurtful and find a way to work through it.
Sometimes friendships change when we becomes mothers. Our besties may still be our besties, but we may find new mom friends who we lean on more because they understand more of how we’re going on our motherhood journeys. That’s okay too. There is no one way to be a mother, and there is no one way to be a friend.