What to Do When Your Kids Come Between Friendships
When I had one kid I could take him everywhere and be friends with everyone. We would take long strolls down the boardwalk when my husband was deployed, sip coffee together and enjoy sunsets by the beach. I would even take him to sleepovers with the girl friends.
When I had two kids, we still enjoyed the long walks. I had found my favorite double stroller and I was determined to keep us out. We would mingle with neighbors outside our house, host neighborhood playdates and hop in the car for day trips to see our friends in other cities.
When I had three kids, I saw things start to change. I was leading MOPS where we lived, doing photography here and there, and my husband’s job demanded a lot. My personality hadn’t changed one bit — I was still as social as ever. However, my life circumstances had changed and I realized that I needed to face reality.
Reality was that three kids under 3 couldn’t just jump and go. Traveling itself was now an event that had to be factored into planning. The logistics necessary to travel with three kids, the loading and unloading, and not to mention the tantrum that has the potential to throw off all timelines. Therefore, meeting for a play date and running one errand was technically 5 events – travel to park, playdate, travel to errand, errand, travel home. I had to figure out how to use my energy well and conserve enough for myself, my husband and the handful of other relationships that I had.
I was no longer the Mom who could coordinate playdates. I could barely get myself somewhere on time so I wasn’t going to get 5 other Moms and their babies to the same place on time. If I did get somewhere on time, I was usually tired from all the effort it took to get to the place and just wanted to sit there quietly.
It was hard to accept that I wasn’t “that friend” to a lot of people anymore. I wanted all my friends to still come and meet me in my changing season. Some did and some didn’t. I prayed for clarity about what friendships during a season of little babies would look like.
In the midst of those changes, God sent me a friend with no kids. I stayed home, she worked full time, but it didn’t matter. She wanted to love my kids like hers, grow deeper in her faith and we shared common loves that transcended our life seasons. I started to realize that healthy friendships need to flex with our families. We can’t guilt ourselves over not being the same friend we were in high school. People change and that’s ok.
After being a military family, I have dear friends all over the world. Many of those relationships have been tested. It hurt when I couldn’t make it to a special event because my husband was deployed or I had just had a baby. But it also hurt when they didn’t understand. Friendships have to work through issues because life is full of issues. 1 kid brings issues, but 6 kids — I have a lot of issues. 😉
Kids will come between your friendships and that is inevitable. Don’t be afraid to leave room for another Mom to grow in her understanding of friendships. You might not be what she needs right now. Don’t take that burden upon yourself and don’t feel like you have to be everyone’s friend. Pursue the people who will make you a better Mom, a more faithful friend and a more loving wife or daughter. Good friendships come in all sizes so start thinking outside the box and you might be surprised.