This past weekend, I celebrated my second mother’s day with my little family. It was quiet and low key, and I spent it with the ones I love most. I had a lovely homemade breakfast, took a solo walk with the dog (he was my first baby, after all), did some gardening in the sunshine, and hosted a BBQ. This Mother’s Day has made me reflect on my relationships with those around me, about how sometimes there are strains and complications that are not easy to describe, or even talk about. I thought about how so much has changed in the last two years of being a mother, and not necessarily about the change of my physical self by growing a human with my body and giving birth to it (although, yes, that happened), but how my relationships started to change with loved ones and strangers alike. I started to see everyone around me in a different way—and in many cases, I didn’t even realize it was happening. As it crept up on me, I started to recognize it in my interactions with others.
I noticed it first with how my relationships with my family changed. I started to see my own parents in a different light, and some of their behaviours started to make sense. That excitement and pride in watching your little ones learn and grow is such an exciting thing to experience. If you’re lucky to have parents who are able to get to know their grandchildren, watching their interactions with one another are so special. I also recall having a heart to heart with my family when I started treatment for my postpartum anxiety, and this opened the door to a conversation with my mum about the anxiety she faced after my sister was born. These were some very raw conversations that we had never had before, and I am so grateful that she opened up and shared her experience with me.
I noticed it in my relationships with my friends. I didn’t have a lot of friends with kids before I had my son, but to those that did have children before me, I totally get it now. I understand what it means to sacrifice my own schedule for that of my son. Naps need to happen so I can avoid his absolute meltdowns and sleepless nights, which can throw off our routine completely. It does mean there are some limitations to our schedule now, but not completely.
I noticed it in my friends without children, how there started to creep in a divide that didn’t exist before, and people I thought I was close with suddenly weren’t that interested in my reasoning or explanations. I was saddened by how these people that I could spend all day with suddenly had no interest in my life anymore, as harsh at that sounds, and seemed to just move on with their own lives, completely uninterested in ours. I now believe that friendships do serve a purpose, and as people grow, we sometimes do grow apart. It felt so confusing and upsetting, but I recognized that sometimes it’s healthy to acknowledge the end of a friendship and move on.
I also developed some really close new friendships with those who also had children around the same time as me, and to them I am so incredibly grateful for their patience and understanding. Being able to discuss those day-to-day things, the mundane, the ordinary, but the common and familiar, has really helped me in my transition into motherhood, helped build my confidence and ease my anxiety as well.
I noticed it in my relationships with strangers. With the check-out clerk at the grocery store. With the teenager teaching us swimming lessons. With the mom and her brand new infant in line at the coffee shop, the one I so awkwardly asked, “How are you feeling? Are you okay?” and she looked at me strangely and nodded. I probably sounded creepy and too personal, but it was a genuine question from my heart that I still think about to this day. Oh how I desperately want to promise you it gets better, and that those sleepless nights and constant crying really do come to an end, eventually.
Most importantly, I noticed it in my relationship with my husband. He had always been a caring and affectionate person, but to see him have so much love for his son was an incredible thing to watch and share with him. How at the end of a hard, trying day, we can sit down and look at one another, laugh, cry, and try to wrap our heads around the whole parenting thing. I see how my love for him has grown, it’s changed and evolved, but it’s still so strong. And oh that special bond my husband has with our son—it warms my heart that there is nothing that can make my son laugh more than his dad.
Lastly, my relationship with my son has grown and evolved. I can already see his fiery independence and personality shine now that he is almost two. He is no longer my little baby, and although he certainly is busy and learning about this world around him, I still sneak in those “mama-love” snuggles once and a while.
Tell me, how did your relationships change when you became a parent?