I have lost touch with so many friends these past few years. Having a child and being present for your family does that to you, and while I wouldn’t say motherhood is isolating, it’s insular.
My best buddy is my 20-month-old daughter. My childless friends find it difficult to relate, to understand why I no longer have the freedom to run out of the house, to have dinner, go for a hike, have a getaway weekend. Everything has to be planned, and it’s a choice to be at home with my daughter and have my energy swallowed up by her.
I used to be one of those people who didn’t understand what parenting was like. I was single and had all the freedom in the world. I am sure I neglected the mothers my friends became; I didn’t understand what they were going through, how much they needed me or a knock at the door and some companionship even with a toddler in tow.
Now, I understand.
My life is broken up into parts: before nap and after nap; before snack and after snack; before and after; before and after, like my life. Before, I had nothing to cater to but myself; after, I am a third wheel in my own life.
Do I miss the old me, the old friends, the old way of life? I’m glad I lived it–glad for all the travels, meals out, movies seen, plane rides, love affairs, and books read on lazy weekends. It makes it easier to be still and present in this new life.
My house used to be organized; now it’s lived in. Toys scattered everywhere, a baby breakfast chucked off the high chair, endless dishes, cooking and cleaning, chasing little legs and busy hands. I finally understand why people say life goes by so fast when you have kids, because when it’s so full, when your energy is so completely consumed and all senses are burning and churning, time flies by. Being alone means so much to me now when it once felt like such a burden.
But even after a few stolen hours alone, I look forward to seeing my daughter, smelling her hair, watching her sleep so soundly after a morning of playing her heart out. Then I get her bottle and we walk and soak up the outside. My daughter is running next to me no longer crawling or helpless. She’s a little person who laughs from her belly and it makes me smile and tear up at the same time. She’s such a beautiful wild untamed creature. And it’s my little creature coming into her own as she flutters through the leaves, picking them up and crushing the gold dust in her tiny hands, cheeks red in the fall sun, blond streaks blowing on her forehead. We follow the walk with dinner, then play time, then bath time. Routine. I grew up with routine, and it’s been something to fall back upon instead of insanity.
I may have lost touch with friends along the way, but that’s the ebb and flow of life, what we understand about each other and what we don’t. I was so much more selfish before my daughter. I find myself more selfless with her in my life, more cognizant and compassionate of others’ struggles, what people may be going through behind a casual smile.
My daughter has made me a better friend.