I’ve wanted to talk to you for awhile about this, but the truth is, I didn’t exactly know how to say it. And then this week, I read this letter that a man wrote to all his friends without kids and I thought, hey, I can write a letter too – to all my girlfriends with kids. I have written and re-written this several times and I can’t find the perfect words to express my feelings, but this is my best effort.
Several years ago, you got pregnant (remember that?) and this should come as no shock to you; that little life changed pretty much everything. That little life changed your life, your partner’s life, your pet’s life (oh those poor neglected dogs), and that life changed my life. That bundle changed our friendship. That bundle changed typical friend talks from love, friends, and jobs to blowouts, breastfeeding, and lack of sleep. Sometimes I feel like a weirdo when I’m around a lot of moms.
You know that my husband and I have chosen (thus far) to not have children, so you may think it odd that I feel like the odd woman out because I’ve chosen this. But choice or not, it‘s hard to feel different.
Disclaimer: I know that some of my girlfriends want nothing more than to be moms but they haven’t yet found Mr Right or cannot get pregnant. If that’s you, I hope this post doesn’t offend or hurt you, I love and hurt with you and I want your dream to come true, too. This post is simply a post about where I’m at.
Please don’t get freaked out, I still very much want to be your friend even though life has changed. That’s why I ask so many questions about your pregnancies and squeal at your gender reveals and giggle when I feel your baby moving in your belly and cry when you miscarry. That’s why I throw you showers and hold your babies and pray for you and your partner as you make decisions about parenting and experience new stresses in life.
But sometimes I want to talk about something other than kids… It’s not that I don’t ever want to talk about your kids. I’m often content to listen and chime in where appropriate. After being a good listener for this many years, I’m able to chime in intellegently about so many topics ranging from Attachement vs. BabyWise parenting to cloth vs. disposable diapers to breastfeeding vs. formula. And while I can engage in those discussions, all the moms know I’m just a poser. The reason I’m just chiming in on those subjects is to connect and remain a part of your world, even thought I don’t know what it’s like in that world.
The truth is: I feel like I’ve lost you to your day to day routines with your kids. On facebook, you regularly update me about diaper disasters and marker mishaps on the walls. On twitter, you tweet 140 character long funny parenting moments with creative hashtags about #parenting. Your blog is now a kid photo album and a collection of pinterest crafts. And I guess deep down, I struggle because I feel like I don’t know you anymore, I just know about you.
And I hope I don’t sound bitter, because I’m not. I’m just really sad. I miss you. I miss our deep talks and our dreaming and scheming about life and our talks about marriage. I miss laughter, encouragement, and deep connection.
Please hear this: I don’t hate your kids. In fact, I’m pleasantly surprised at how much I truly like your kids. Your kids shatter my “I’m not a kid person” feelings; I actually adore them.
I just miss what made us friends. I miss “getting you” and I miss you “getting me”.
While I don’t have a desire to leave a family legacy right now, I do have a desire to leave a legacy of being a strong Christ follower, a strong woman, and a strong leader. I have a sneaking suspicion that you have similar passions and desires to those, I think we just don’t often talk about it.
I’m being the me that God created me to be right now. And I’m really happy…
… And I really hope you’re happy too. Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re happy because being a mom seems like really hard work with really few immediate rewards. Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re happy because facebook makes parenting seem like the pits. Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re happy because we don’t talk as much as we used to, and when we do, we have just enough time to catch up before you have to to run off to calm a tartrum or I have to go to a meeting.
But know this: I love you. I’m glad we’re friends. I love that you’ve taken on this messy, challenging, nonstop, underpaid, unpredictable ride of parenting. I hope that you can love that I’m on a different ride that’s different but equally as messy, challenging, nonstop, underpaid, and unpredictable.
One time, not long after your baby arrived, you told me that you felt like no one cared about you anymore; they only cared about your kids. Well that’s not me. I care a lot about you. I want to know about your marriage and your dreams. I want to know what you plan to do when your kids hit first grade and you have 6 hours all to yourself. I want to know how you are still finding ways to serve and grow and be challenged while you parent. I want to know all about you. So let’s talk – less about the day to day and more about the deep stuff.
42 thoughts on “Dear Mom Friend,”
I love this Allison. As a mother of 3, I’ve done my share of “baby talking”. I think for me it comes down to cherishing and holding tight to the relationships I have built over the years, pre and post babies. Regardless of children or no children, having a friend and being a friend takes real work from both sides.
As an aside: I think what you do is amazing, your passion for the children you work with is heartfelt and very maternal. Most importantly, you are following what you are being led to do right now.
Good to hear from you Joani! I hope you and your family are doing well. Thanks for sharing and reminding me that both sides have to do some work and that it’s worth it for long-term quality relationships. Thanks also for affirming my work. I love it and feel so fortunate to do this work!
Allison, thank you for sharing this. I am not a mom because God hasn’t taken me to that stage of life yet. And though motherhood is something I long for someday, I empathize with your sentiments expressed here because I, too, often feel like I’ve lost the ability to connect with friends who are at a different stage of life than me (which is often motherhood). I find it interesting that in college (or around that stage of life), though we all had different majors, different interests, different extra-curricular activities, different churches, different views, different home states or countries…and well, I think this list could just go on and on…we communicated on such a beautifully deep level about the things that really mattered. Often I find myself longing for that type of connection again, and I wonder why the mundane of everyday life has become the hot topic of conversation. I would add this one thought to what you wrote: I notice social networking (FB, Twitter, Pinterest) as a central element in the method of communication between you and your friends (or me and mine). Do you think that the “chop it down into bite-sized bits of information” type of updates that “connect” us on a regular basis have something to do with our lack of connection? Perhaps all we can communicate in 140 characters or less is what is only the surface level stuff of life. On the positive side of technology, I find that I do get to know my friends on a deeper level by reading their blogs, particularly posts that pose a question, bring to light a new thought, or share something personal (like this one). I think the bottom line is that we must be intentional about what we choose to communicate to one another, and though we are not all experiencing the same things in life, there ARE levels on which we can communicate and connect. Thanks again for your thoughtful post!
Crystal, I think you might be onto something with this social media theory. I hadn’t thought about it that way, but you’re right, social media doesn’t lend itself to sharing about the deep. And it’s not necessarily appropriate. Facebook oversharing is no good. Maybe we’re unlearning how to communicate through social media. Maybe we feel like we’re closer to each other than we are because of facebook, twitter, instagram… I’m going to need to reflect on your thoughts for awhile and think about how I communicate with the masses, as well. Maybe I’m sharing just as many little blips of life and not enough of the deep stuff. Thanks for your good insights.
As a mom, I really enjoyed reading that, I appreciate the insight, and I’m not offended at all!! I actually feel the same, believe it or not. I truly care about my friends’ kids, but I don’t want to talk about our kids during the precious few moments we have to catch up. I want to know how my friends are doing, what their latest hobbies and interests are, and, yes, the marriage talk is always fascinating. P.s. I miss you and we should catch up someday. P.p.s. Leah and Luke are doing fine. Ha. 🙂
Mindy, I love it! Thanks for a dose of humor, too. (I really like your kids so I’m glad you updated me). Thanks for wagering in, it’s good to know that moms want to talk about something else, too. So, when can we talk? 🙂
Allie, having been the girl without kids surrounded by moms and now being the mom, I see both sides to these feelings. The one thing consistent about both sides of the coin is that both sides have a sense of loss. I love getting together with my child-free girlfriends, but we operate on such different schedules that it can be nearly impossible to make happen. While it’s similar to when all your friends start dating and you’re odd woman out, the key difference I have found is that childrearing takes an enormous amount of energy. And if your child doesn’t sleep like mine, you barely have energy to get dressed much less think about anything deep–even if you want to. Maybe this discussion will lead both sides to acknowledge that in order for relationships to continue growing a new approach must be taken.
Kristin, so good to hear from you! Thank you for providing some feedback as someone who spent time on both sides of this. And thank you for reminding me that both moms and non moms experience loss. Your post of the letter to the friends without kids was the inspiration for this. I wrote this because I wanted to start a discussion and hopefully find a way to still connect with my overworked, sleep deprived friends.
I think it’s a great idea to talk about it. Funny thing is that when I was childless, I was frustrated with the moms, now I find it frustrating that I can’t go back to pre-child fun. I love my daughter, but parenthood comes with a lot of sacrifices you don’t necessarily consider.
Looks like your hope of discussion is happening. 🙂
I really liked this. Thanks for writing it
Thanks, Jason, I appreciate the feedback!
I 100% agree with every word of this and I may come back to read this over and over again the next, oh 18 years! When I found out I was pregnant the thing that scared me the most was this very thing. That I would lose all my identity, that I would have nothing else to talk about and that no one would care about anything else but my kid. It is sometimes tempting to talk about my pregnancy on Twitter & Facebook but I have set out guidelines for myself. I can only post about 2 or 3 big moments in my pregnancy that I truly feel like others would want to celebrate with me…. and by NO means will I let myself complain! This may mean that I text some of my girl friends (some of which are and some who aren’t mom’s) to count down to when we discover the sex of our baby instead of posting it for the world to see. Last week I was talking with a acquaintance who had just discovered I was pregnant, and she was shocked I was so far along and she didn’t know it yet. I was able to help give her some insight into my personal theory on all of this, the statement I remember saying to her is “This baby is a welcome addition to our family (our marriage) and to my life but I will not let it define 100% of who I am, God defines who I am as a child of His”. To some mom’s that is blasphemy but it’s the truth, it’s one reason why I feel like I will keep my part time job that I LOVE LOVE LOVE… I can’t let that go because I feel like God has called me as much to that as he did to get pregnant, (I do reserve the right to let God change that if he wants to).
All of that to say Allison, I still feel the same way talking to other mom’s as you do and I want nothing more than to be on your team in this adventure. Watching you and Adam for 7 years grow towards God’s call on your life is something that I will never ever forget. You will never know how great of influence you all have been on our marriage and honestly our future children. Corey and I have talked many times about the fact that we feel like you all would be the most similar parents to the parents we strive to be… and you don’t even feel called to have them 🙂 Wow that should be a testament to how much God is doing in your life to influence your community and those you see every day. We love yall and I will let you hold me accountable to this post every day of my life as a mother if we had the capacity to do so!
Sweet Natalie, I don’t even know where to begin. Thank you so much for your honesty about your fears about becomming a mom. Thank you for expressing your intentionality about what and with who you will share your pregnancy (and subsequently parenting). I love it when parents express their thoughtfulness and intentionality about their parenting. I learn new things and it gives me glimmers of hope for other parents, and maybe one day me. Just having you share this now makes me feel like we’ll keep talking about the deep stuff once baby Ro arrives. If not, I’ll call you out. And you can call me out, too, if I talk too much about work or cooking or whatever mundane things I get stuck on. Thank you for your encouragement to Adam and I. We love you three (plus Lola so 4) so much! So glad we’re finally closer to live life more together.
Are you in my head?? You expressed perfectly exactly how I have felt within the past few years…beautifully written, Allie!
Thanks, Ann. It’s good to know others feel the same way.
I love your insight. I agree with everything that you wrote. This was one thing I think both Andy and I struggled with when I found out I was pregnant. We were not planning on having kids for a while and I felt that I would lose (I guess I still struggle with this now that I stay at home) my identity. Don’t get me wrong I am so thankful and feel so blessed to have Lilly in my life and can’t imagine my life without her but once people find out your are pregnant your life for some reason is no longer about you. YOU tend to get lost in everything baby and that is a challenge in itself. The challenge is continuing to remain true to yourself, the person God created you to be, and to not stop living for you just because you now have someone else to live for. Thank you so much for writing this. It really spoke to me. I know we haven’t kept in touch but you mean a lot to me. You have a special place in my heart and a such a wonderful person.
Haley, thank you so much for your honesty. As a non mom, it’s been so good for me to hear from moms about where your head’s at! I loved the line you wrote, “The chappenge is continuing to remain true to yourself, the person God created you to be, and not to stop living for you just because you now have someone else to live for”. I’m guessing many other moms can resonate with that. You will always mean a lot to me too! I love you! (And Lilly is an absolute Doll, I’m glad she’s here, too!)
Allison, I enjoyed reading this post and it certainly gave me a lot of think about. Now I’m obviously on the “mom” side of this story but I had some of these same feelings toward another mom friend of mine. This friend was pregnant the same time I was and gave birth only a month before me. After she had her little girl we would hang out and all she talked about was her daughter and I found this odd even after I had my little one. I had to specifically ask her direct questions, “How are things going with you and the Lord?” “What can I be praying about?” It’s odd because when you become a mom, at least for me there was a sort of identity crisis. An infant requires so much attention and even now that my little one is 19 months old there are days all I feel like is a mom and wife whose only concern is laundry, dishes, dinner, etc. There were (and are) days I felt less like an actual person. So often I have to put my own feelings, and desires on the back burner as I have to address the needs of my son and husband (which I’m sure as a wife you can relate to). However…I would LOVE for a friend to sit down and ask me direct questions concerning my walk with God, struggles and life in general. I wanna laugh, and talk about the crazy ways God is showing up, even in the midst of motherhood. I crave that intimacy. So please as a friend who is not yet in the throws of motherhood, remind us of our humanity. This post is a great start! Ask us the hard questions. Please keep reaching out and as we see that concern we will quickly latch back on to that important friendship. My response is coming out of a place of loneliness because I don’t currently have anyone asking me these questions and I miss it. Great post and some wonderful food for thought. Thanks for sharing and starting this dialogue.
Wow, Kristen, thanks so much for your honesty. I’ve had other friends email me a really really similar response to yours. Which leads me to the conlcusion that regardless of our marital status or child status, we all still crave that deep community and deep vulnerability. I pray that you can find that where you’re at. Thank you for the encouragement to ask my other friends who have little ones the hard questions. I love when you said that moms need reminded of their humanity. I’ll work to be more intentional about that.
Allison, what a beautiful post and thoughtful responses. It takes insight and courage to figure out what we’re feeling. Even more courage is required to intimately share those in any forum, let alone one that is public. Thank you. Balancing life’s changes is difficult for most of us and I am no exception. As a mother of three teenagers, (yes Donny turned 13 last week) my life has ebbed and flowed along with my focus. It was overwhelming at times to have three little ones and I’m sure the content of my conversations reflected that intensity. As they became older, I was better able to balance their needs with mine. My focus was able to broaden again. I began to allow myself emotional breaks to care for me as an individual and not be so consumed on my job as Mom. For me, that took maturity (there’s and mine), experience (good enough REALLY is good enough), exhaustion (sleep deprivation is one powerful motivator) and really fabulous women in my life to help. Thank GOD I have such wonderful woman to help me learn how it’s done. Thank you for instigating such a provocative and loving conversation with such a fabulous group of women (and men).
Cindy, I can’t believe Donny is a TEENAGER now! Thank you so much for giving the perspective of a mom who’s children are older than toddlers. It’s encouraging for me and I’m sure for my newer mom friends to read that the stress and exhaustion ebbs and flows. I’m glad that you had (and hopefully have) fabulous women in your life to help you. I hope this is encouragement for us all to keep talking to one another and loving one another well.
I totally can relate to this. I remember how hard it was for me to read nothing but birth annoucements and child talk on facebook before I got pregnant. So, I tried to make a concerted effort to NOT post only things about my baby on every facebook update. While I think I have done pretty well with that to protect people in my situation, I have failed at letting the world have updates on me. I guess I don’t think I’m all that interesting to post stuff about either. ;.)
Hope we didn’t do too much baby talk during our last visit….fortunately, I felt like our bodily functions talk has not yet transitioned to relating it to babies, but stayed on us gals still. Thanks for laughing with me.
p.s.- Just imagine a foot with toenails and all.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Natalie. I’ve had a few friends that have talked about social media boundaries with pregnancy and parenting updates for both their friends who are struggling to get pregnant and for those who just don’t care all that much. Thanks for adding insight to that. I always have a great time connecting with you when we’re together, and feel like it’s always balanced between adult and kiddo conversation. Keep updating close friends about you like you have been. It’s good for all of us to know you and your heart!
I read your post a couple of times yesterday and have been thinking about it since then. I have a whole lot of different thoughts, though, so I think I’ll need to send you an email. 🙂 One one side note, I do think that Facebook and the like are not at all conducive to sharing deeper things, since status updates, pictures, etc. are being seen by all kinds of people. But it’s easy to think since you see someone’s status updates you are “connected” to them. I think that relates to every area/stage of life, not just motherhood.
Thanks Ruthie for your perspective on this. Crystal had some good thoughts about social media, as well. I agree that Facebook status over-sharing the depths of one’s soul isn’t appropriate… I guess I just miss seeing pictures of my friends faces too on Facebook and hearing little moments that are about marriage, work… And other aspects of life from my friends even via social media post motherhood. I’m not calling for a ban on cute kid pictures (yeah I stalk my friends kids pictures) or a ban on all updates just maybe some balance with posting…
Also (warning I’m getting on a soapbox) as someone who hasn’t yet decided whether I will have kids or not, can I make a request to all parents? Can you sometimes post the things you love about parenting? Can you tell me about why it’s great? Why sleepless nights are worth it? Parenting is the most complained about profession on facebook. There are days when my newsfeed is filled with parenting woes… And I get it, I do… There’s solidarity… Other parents can tell you they’ve been there or you’ll be ok. But for us non-parents who are weighing our options still, it makes us fearful to take the plunge. Just some thoughts.
Thanks for sharing your heart Allison. I admire you for so many reasons…one of them being how you call it how you see it with passion, respect, and approachability. Your post has been a challenge for me to think about actually engaging with “these” moms – I have avoided all moms groups like the plague because I am afraid all they are only going to talk about is kids and parenting…which just the thought of stresses me out! I’ve probably missed out on opportunities to speak into someone’s life, encourage, and ask them questions that have nothing to do children…and I know I’ve missed out on opportunities to be humbled, challenged, and learn from someone else’s wisdom.
I think Molly nailed it in her post about the sacredness of doing everything as unto the Lord…and the people that are doing this well can be found anywhere – the stay at home mom to the corporate executive. But the only way to really tap into the good stuff in these relationships is through intentional and consistent community…of which social media is a great organizer but a horrible facilitator! But when that’s your primary connection with someone, it’s just going to always leave you wanting more…or less 😉
I love being a mom…but that is by no means my only identity. Thanks for being interested in and caring about the whole person…it means a lot! I loved the season in my life where you were just across the hall…miss you friend!
Jenn, I always have and always will love you. Your heart is beautiful, and I knew when you announced you were pregnant that your approach to parenting would be, too! Thank you for sharing your fears and your reservations. We all have them!
I love that statement “The only way to really tap into the good stuff in these relationships is through intentional and consistent community… of which social media is a great organizer but a horrible facilitator.” There is great truth to that.
Just across the hall friendships certainly made intentional community and relationships simpler. Love you friend. Love your heart and your mission and your marriage and your parenting!