This is a difficult post for me to write; partly because of the truth behind it and partly because of the sadness that truth sometimes brings.
A close friend and I were talking the other day about our post-partum friendships and how all of them have changed. Some for the better, like hers and mine, and some for the worse. She and I rarely see each other. In fact, I rarely see any of my friends anymore, close or not. If my BFF’s and I average a get together once every few months, we’re doing well. What I found most interesting about our conversation though was that we weren’t complaining about our situations. We were embracing them and at peace with how our social lives have dwindled since having kids. That, my friends, is not an easy feat. Loneliness is a powerful emotion. Pair it with crippling self-doubt about your ability as a parent and what seems like an endless supply of shitty diapers, and you have a tough obstacle to overcome. But somehow, it seems, we have. It happened slowly. And quietly. But it happened.
I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about how moms have experienced friendships after having kids. Some I can totally get behind. Some, not so much. But regardless, all seem to describe a shift of sorts. My friendships are certainly no exception. Like most moms, I have gravitated to and bonded with my friends who also have kids. Common sense, really. You gotta have someone to turn to when the Internet has you confused about which swaddle method will kill your sleeping infant (sleeping infant…that’s funny). And most of my friendships with people who don’t have kids have started to fade. Not because either of us really wants them to but because we’re simply on different roads to different destinations. She’s on her way to Vegas while I’m making my way to The Magic Kingdom. The roads don’t cross. Maybe we’ll send each other a postcard when we get there. Or maybe not.
In my situation, I think having twins sent some of my friendships to the farm faster than if I had just pushed out one kid (for the record, I tried to quit after delivering one but was told I had no choice but to deliver the second; neither he nor I were thrilled about that). I read a post on the truth about being a twin mom on Nesting Story today that really resonated with me. I think I felt truly understood for the first time since having my own twins. Joanna makes a number of points that are well articulated but I’d like to address the two that spoke most to me.
The Pain. While this is in the past now, I know that some of my friendships suffered greatly before my kids even arrived because of how painful my pregnancy was. When people see a pregnant lady, they gush about how she glows and what a miracle it is to have created life. Sure. Got it. Thanks. That’s lovely and I’m just as in awe of it as you are. But you know what? It also fucking sucks. My kids were lying sideways in my 5’2″ frame. Which meant instead of stretching up, down and out, I stretched side to side. Turns out the ligaments in your abdomen are not meant to stretch this way. So at 26 weeks, I was taken off work because my back hurt, my sides ached and there was not one position that gave me any relief. I could barely stand from sitting, let alone get out of bed. My husband used to say that it sounded like I was dying in my sleep. Let me tell you, I wasn’t sleeping and it felt like I was dying. Eventually I couldn’t fit behind the steering wheel of my car or lift my leg high enough to get into the shower. I rested (not slept) in a recliner and can remember having almost daily panic attacks because I felt like I couldn’t breath. I’m sorry if I wasn’t in the mood to hear about your day or go for coffee. I was busy trying not to suffocate or pee my pants. Very few, if any people in my life understood how painful my pregnancy was because if I complained, I sounded “winey” and I didn’t want to be that person. That’s not how I wanted my pregnancy to go. But I was winey. And I had every right to be so looking back, I don’t apologize for it.
The Frustration. So much frustration. As a mom of multiples, frustration is something we battle daily. Whether it comes from being constantly outnumbered or having to explain to a friend why we can’t move nap time, frustration is our number one struggle. I know that I have friends who think I am responsible for too much. That my husband doesn’t take care of the kids enough or that I don’t get ample adult time. What they don’t understand is that we would agree with them but that our circumstances simply don’t allow our lives to change at the moment. I know when my kids are older I will have more opportunity to go out and have a social life. But right now I’m alone with the kids most weeks which means even once they go to bed, I can’t leave. And weekends are so precious. So very precious. Owning a home comes with a lot of responsibility so on weekends, we can often be found repairing something or improving something, running errands that we can’t with kids or, god forbid, spending time together as a family. My spare time is sparse. Very sparse. And it’s frustrating. For you and I both. I get it. But unfortunately, some friends don’t. In a few years things will change and I will have more time for you, I promise. So hang in there. Keep texting and emailing. I really do want to hear all about you life, just via email for now. Please don’t give up on me if we can’t get together face-to-face. Most days my face is covered in dirty handprints and yesterday’s mascara. It’s not all the pretty to look at anyhow.
That being said, to those friends who have stuck by me, visited when I was unable to get out of the house, sent encouraging texts when they sensed my frustration, and brought me a slurpee when I most needed one, I love you to the moon and back. You are the lot what will be in my life forever. I never have to worry about your love for me and that, dear friends, means more to me than anything right now. I have enough shit to worry about like where my son hid the car keys or where my diaperless kid just pooped. Not having to worry about whether you’re mad at me or if I did something to offend you is a huge relief. And one I very much need at this time in my life. I love my friends so much. I don’t think any of them would doubt that. And I miss you all. But please understand that my family has to come first because if I don’t take good care of them now, they will put me in a dumpy nursing home when I’m older and only visit at Christmas. They might do that anyhow but I’ve got to try.Tags: emotional, friendships, frustration, love, Parenthood, pregnancy, relationships, twins, understanding