Columnist Amie Jay explores the strain motherhood can put on friendships. (Photo courtesy of Amie Jay)

Mommy’s Inside Voice: Mourning the loss of friends

Motherhood can take its toll on friendships

Amie Jay/Columnist

Motherhood really sucker punched me right in the jigglies.

You can read all of the parenting books, go to your prenatal classes, talk to experienced moms, but you can never be truly prepared for what it all means until you become a mother. The exhaustion, the frustration, the body changes, the hormonal swings, the postpartum depression, and the energy it takes to get through the day.

The simplest of tasks can all of a sudden become difficult.

You’re constantly aware, not only of yourself, your own actions and words but of the actions and words of the people around you. And of course, those of your child – keeping track of their movements, their surroundings, all potential dangers (both physical and mental). Their language, their manners, their friendships. Constantly aware, adjusting, supporting.

It’s exhausting and exhilarating. The craziest thing you’ve ever put yourself through – without even knowing what you were signing up for.

I used to be diligent with my friendships. I was proud of being a thoughtful and loyal friend, it’s something that I assimilated with myself. If someone needed me, no questions asked, I was there. If I had even the slightest inkling that a friend was struggling, I would go out of my way to reach out.

Surprise goodies left on doorsteps with a note of support. A night out with overly sweetened girly drinks, ending in drunken tears over puppy-love romances crumbling too soon. Pregnancy tests and ice cream.

My friends were my world.

And now, my children are my world.

READ MORE: Mommy’s Inside Voice

You make a lot of sacrifices when you enter into the realm of parenting. Every decision that I make in a day is “screened” by my mom-brain. The one that sifts through my own personal wants and desires, cross-referencing them to my children’s best interests. I have sacrificed so many of my own wants – so much time, so many activities, and so many friendships.

See, the truth is that most friendships aren’t unconditional.

Sure, they can excuse one or two unanswered texts, a couple of missed girls’ nights. But most friendships start to feel a little bitter, a little resentful, a little neglected. Invitations dissipate and texts become more and more sparse.

The things I want to talk about now aren’t interesting or juicy like they used to be. Leaving the pub at 9:30 p.m. because I’m too exhausted and engorged to stay as late as we used to is not fun. I get it.

The excitement of the cute baby fades as the allure wears off and the absence of attention remains.

The natural course of maturing and growing within your life will have people venture in and out of it at regular intervals. Moving on from jobs, relationships, cities – growing within yourself and your roles in your life. It’s all normal. It’s all necessary.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

That doesn’t mean I wish it weren’t different.

That doesn’t mean I don’t wonder if I could have salvaged it.

I am trying to accept that ebb and flow, acknowledging its importance and embracing its potential. In that acknowledgment, I am mourning.

I miss you, my friends.

The friends that have graciously accepted my apologies of countless unreturned text messages. The friends that give their attention, affection, and support with an understanding that it can’t always be returned. The friends that love my children, just as much as they love me.

I miss you, my friends.

The friends whose lives couldn’t stay parallel to mine in this giant shift of lifestyles. I understand. I think of you often, and still have hope that someday, down the road, our lives will be parallel again.

I wish I could spend more time with you. I wish I could not only tell but show you how much your love and friendship means to me. I have faith that one day I will have that time again. I will resurface, coming up for air after these years of diapers, tantrums, and Peppa Pig. I will look around and express all of the gratitude that I feel for you right now but am too exhausted to show.

In this insane life that I’m leading, where I’m constantly questioning myself, you help remind me that I’m still here. ME. Not “Mom.” That means more to me than you may know.

Mommy’s Inside Voice is a bi-weekly column by Amie Jay, a local mother of three.

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