I had a host of friends before I became a mom. They swirled around me like insects fluttering around a table lamp. I had friends from high school who hunted me down years after our paths had spiraled in different directions.
I had friends from college who checked on me long after we had tossed our graduation caps in the air. At work, I easily forged new solid friendships. I spent my weekends hopping from one coffee date to another. There was never a dull moment in my heydays.
Then I met a wonderful gentleman who swept me off my feet. As we planned our wedding, my guest list was bursting at the seams while his was a decent size.
“How can one person have so many friends?” he often remarked.
“Congratulations, it’s a girl!” The nurse announced as she gingerly nestled my brand new baby on my chest. It was love at first sight for me. As I peered into her puffy doe eyes while knuckling away my tears, I knew that my life had changed forever.
I wanted to spend every waking moment nurturing her, nibbling on her cheeks, watching her trail off to the land of nod, sharing giggles with her, and fiercely protecting her.
I spent the next few days in hospital locking eyes with her, inspecting her brittle nails, nursing her, lulling her to sleep, changing her diaper, running my fingers gently over her newborn crusty skin.
Nothing else mattered. The world could wait.
All the while, my phone buzzed endlessly. My army of friends was calling and sending congratulatory messages. But I could not for the life of me grab my phone.
You see, before I became a mom, my hands were mostly free. But they were now tied down. I was busy tending to my little girl.
“I promise I will call Nancy and message Judy later,” I whispered to my sleeping 2-day-old tot. But that didn’t happen. In between changing diapers and wrestling with her for a proper latch, mounds of communication slipped through the cracks.
When we brought our daughter home from the hospital, my daily schedule became even more clogged up. There were no pleasant nurses at my beck and call. I gradually slipped into a cycle of nursing, burping, soothing, changing, and bathing her.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Besides, my daughter was colicky and barely slept at night. My husband and I took turns soothing her in between little spurts of sleep. We were always so hopelessly knackered. I spent any spare time I had during the day squeezing in some 40 winks.
As weeks peeled into months, the calls and messages began tapering off. Granted, I was neither surprised nor offended. I knew I sucked as a friend and deserved some form of punishment for it. I couldn’t have my cake and eat it.
Eventually, the calls and messages dwindled to a trickle. Only a handful of friends bothered to check on me.
The rest waved the white flag faster than I could say “I have a newborn.” But I was OK with that. I was smack dab in a new season, and I was ready to pay the price. I was OK being holed up at home as they sampled menus in new restaurants.
When my maternity leave elapsed, I resigned from my job to take care of my daughter. And that’s when the bottom actually dropped out of my friendships. Without scooting off to an actual office every day, I had very limited contact with adults.
My friend’s list that was already clutching at straws caved in. By God’s mercy, two friends who were also new moms stuck with me. I like to think that they understood the intricacies of having a newborn. They plowed through unanswered calls and un-replied messages and made it to the other side of the shore with me.
Two years later, another new baby was snuggled in my arms. I went full circle with her, falling in love with her and spending every waking moment tending to her myriad of needs.
As a stay-at-home mom, my daughters and I have stacked up precious memories and forged a beautiful friendship. I love listening to them say sneaky things while playing pretend with their dolls. I enjoy teaching them life skills. I relish the hugs, cuddles, fights, and tears.
Motherhood may have grossly trimmed down my friend’s list, but I gained two teeny weeny friends whose hearts beat for me. My phone may be lying dormant for days on end, but I have two little girls who say the word “mom” more times than I can count.
That makes my heart sing.