Mom and Non-Mom Friends

***This is an extension of a recent Facebook post in which I expressed gratitude for my fellow mom friends. In this post, I extend this gratitude to include the importance of non-mom friends in my life.

I wrote a Facebook post about how grateful I am for my mom friends. To be clear, I am also very grateful for my non-mom friends. They remind me that, beyond being a mother, I am also a woman who has dreams, ambitions, and interests independent of my child. It’s important for me to remember that there is a world that exists outside my daughter and that I am still my own person. Sorta.

The reality is that my daughter is the most important aspect of my life. By far. There is not one other aspect that even comes close (sorry husband!). Her needs are put way above my own, especially at this age where she is dependent on me for literally everything (although she is starting to play independently (yay!), but only if I’m watching her (boo!). She will actually look up every few minutes to make sure I’m looking at her and not doing something productive like folding laundry or writing this blog post… because how dare I?).

I find it sometimes hard to explain this to non-mom friends. They don’t always get it (I thought I got it before I had a kid, but nope, I didn’t*). And I’m not talking about not getting it in a Louis CK “Why” or a Michael McIntyre “People Without Kids Don’t Know,” way. Although, let’s be honest, those videos are hilarious. My non-mom friends don’t think raising kids is a piece of cake, that their future offspring will never misbehave in public, or that their babies will be sleeping through the night in their own bed by day two. At least I hope not. In truth, I find they demonstrate a great deal of empathy and understanding.

But I’m talking about the little things that you don’t even think about before having kids. Here is an example:

Nap schedules: my life is actually ruled by my daughter’s nap schedule and I make no apologies for it. She has three naps per day at specific times and I need to be home for them. “Can’t she just sleep in the stroller?” Not well. “Can’t she nap a little later?” No. If I miss the nap window, it’s closed. “What about skipping a nap?” Sure. I can do that, but then I will pay for it at bedtime and all through the night. I like the five hours of sleep I currently get. Miss a nap and that number drops to two or three hours. It’s not worth it to mess with the nap schedule. #napscheduleforlife

To be fair, some people have easy babies. They sleep anywhere. They switch between bottle and boob with ease. How I envy those mothers! (Not really. My daughter is awesome.) But I have a lot of mom friends and I would say that these babies are the anomalies—not the norm—and those moms who do have them know how lucky they are and refrain from bragging to us sleep-deprived moms.

I am happy to have mom friends with whom to lament nap schedules. Who really understand the challenges of breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding). Who get what it’s like to go six months with a maximum stretch of five hours of sleep per night. Who don’t bat an eye when my daughter is having a meltdown in public or otherwise. Who talk about poop, vomit, spit up, and various other bodily functions with both the alacrity and worry of only a mom (and maybe a gastroenterologist). Who get what it’s like to have your identity and life forever altered by a tiny ebullient human (who yes steals your sleep, but also your heart).

But as I write this, I realize that it’s so important for me to have non-mom friends too. I don’t always want to talk about poop (believe it or not). And sometimes I want to do something for me (ladies, my manicure lasted four days). And there will be a time when my daughter is not totally dependent on me and I can re-focus on my own dreams and ambitions, however altered they have become**.

This blog post meandered a bit. The point (I swear I had one) is that while I am lucky to have friends in a similar situation who understand what being a mom is all about, I am equally lucky to have friends who remind me of the independent woman I was and still (hopefully) am. Here is to all of the amazing women in my life, mom and non-moms alike!



*As a side note, one of my bridesmaids had four-month old twins during my wedding. I always knew she was amazing, but when I think back to all the activities in the lead-up—and on the day—I’m pretty blown away by her ability to manage it all at the time. I can’t really recall the details, but I can only hope I was understanding if she required flexibility during that time. My best friend is getting married this weekend and she has been both patient and accommodating of my/my daughter’s needs and schedule.

**I find my dreams have mostly shifted to dreams I have for my daughter… you know, after I become the CEO of a major corporation ;)


What’s for dinner? Milk!

Before I had my daughter, I made the decision that I would try breastfeeding. I was assured that this was the best way to go. “Babies are born knowing how to do it,” the RN at the hospital said. “It’s a natural bonding experience,” affirmed the lactation consultant at my prenatal exercise class. Babies already know how to do it? She’ll gaze lovingly in my eyes while I feed her? That sounds amazing. Sign me up!

Um, no. That’s not how it went. I can unequivocally say that breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to learn. And the stakes are high. It is the scariest feeling in the world not knowing if your baby is eating enough. Or if your inability to get a good latch will lead to poor weight gain. It’s heartbreaking when both of you are so frustrated by this seemingly natural process that one of you usually ends up in tears (okay, usually me). The first few days home from the hospital are particularly filled with angst. You’re tired and all you want to do is feed your baby but it’s not working. Even three months later there are times when my daughter is crying and my husband and I look at one another and wonder whether she’s still hungry and whether she’s eating enough. I am still working at it (although it’s become easier).

I don’t regret my decision to breastfeed but I think the breast is best campaign has ratcheted up the rhetoric to a new cringe worthy level. I shocked my peers at a recent breastfeeding cafe because I am also pumping. I was admonished for promoting the pump, which would surely lead to supply issues, early weaning, and certain death (okay, not that last one). And when I mentioned the word wean I was inundated with a slew of data on why you should try to ‘save you and your baby’s breastfeeding relationship’ and how the WHO recommends breastfeeding until your child is two.  I met a woman who was still breastfeeding her baby (toddler?) at four and a half. Nope. Not for me.

You have to do what’s best for you and what works for both you and your baby. Some women choose to formula feed. Some don’t have a choice at all. Some do both. Some women wean after six weeks, some after six months (apparently some after six years!). I set my goal in two week increments (right now I’m trying to make it to week 14).

I cried the first time I had to feed my daughter a bottle. I felt like a failure. I realize now that instead of feeling upset, I should have felt proud that I was ensuring she had the sustenance to develop and thrive. And she is thriving. At only three months she’s already more than doubled her birth weight.