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 ;)


Baby Center

Once I began consuming my news online, I operated by a simple rule: don’t read the comments section of any given article. Because everyone knows that if you do, you inevitably lose a little faith in humanity (I had a few hilarious examples, but it revealed too much about my politics).

But the comments section tempts you. You reach the end of your article and before looking away you see “COMMENTS” mocking you from the bottom of the screen; daring you to click. And you do click, don’t you? And sure, you see some comments affirming your own views. Relief! But there are also always comments that are seemingly there to purposely enrage. You know the ones. The commenters who cherry pick data or abstain from using facts altogether (despite being stated so matter-of-factly). Or the commenters who twist innocuous sentiments into bellicose tirades—obscuring truth and obfuscating logic. Yet despite the confrontation, the trite, and the inflammatory remarks that lurk in the comments section, you click. (Isn’t there an overused cliché referring to the definition of insanity?)

So after I break my first rule, I have a second rule: don’t comment. One of my favourite quotes is by Mark Twain: “Never argue with a fool; onlookers might not be able to tell the difference.” Despite my failure in the first rule, I was pretty successful at adhering to the second. That is, until Baby Center.

For those of you who don’t know, Baby Center is the online pregnancy and baby bible. It guides you through your pregnancy, telling you your baby is the size of a banana one week and a green onion the next (what? No, seriously). It tells you what to expect each week in your fetus—and then your baby’s—development. I’m pretty sure that every mom has visited Baby Center at some point during and/or after her pregnancy.

In addition to the development guide, Baby Center is where moms and moms-to-be go to ask their questions to the other moms and moms-to-be. A forum designed to air insecurities, share knowledge, and compare notes.

The forum is a good idea in theory. In practice, it is often plagued by the same issues as the comment boards from the news articles I read. Yet—despite knowing all of this—I still click. And I read. And I get angry because some mom has told another mom that her son is going to grow up with abandonment issues because she lets him cry it out, or another mom’s daughter is suffering because she has chosen to formula feed. You are putting your child to bed too late; he’s going to have lifelong sleep issues. You are rocking your baby too much; he will get too clingy. You aren’t rocking your baby enough; she feels lonely. You should be breastfeeding on a schedule so your baby can develop a routine. No, you should be feeding on demand because your baby is hungry. Essentially, here is a bunch of anecdotal evidence why my parenting style is better than yours*.

Don’t get me wrong. Some of the commenters are empathetic and try to offer support and encouragement. This can provide reassurance and comfort. But doubt creeps in when you read the not-so-supportive comments. And because the stakes are higher (it’s your child after all), I often feel the need to respond to these antagonistic comments, backing a mom’s intuition that she really does know what’s best and rebuking naysayers (only the aggressive know-it-alls). Thus, I break my second rule.

I have recently established a third rule: never look back. Once I add my two cents I never go back to check whether other moms have responded for fear of getting baited into an unproductive argument (remember what Mark Twain said). It’s a write and run type situation. But hopefully the OP (original poster in chat room language) reads it and feels the mom solidarity I’m trying to convey.


*Even if research is cited, there is often no universal agreement on many of these issues in the scientific community.