I sit amid their company. I try to wrap my head around their conversations. I ask questions to understand. Are they speaking a foreign language? There’s a heavy emphasis on motherhood affecting marriage, career, and freedom but what gets lost in the chaos is friendship. A woman will find her motherhood tribe (we’re like magnets, I tell you) but the friendships with those who knew pre-mom me, with those who aren’t on the same path yet tend to shake a bit.
The days are just too different. They see the ends of the world; as a stay-at-home mom, I see the same four corners of the house. They engage with adults, thinkers, movers; I read Runaway Bunny, practice animal sounds, make play dough. Their days start when the sun sets while I look forward to my bed and silence. They are updated with the events, trends, news of today while all I can contribute is what formula to buy, what parenting blog to read (or avoid), what play school to go to — is anyone really interested in such ordinary things? It can be an odd thing seeing both in the same table. We’re living parallel lives. We’re both alive but we’re worlds apart.
It’s my first time to admit it but it hurts a lot, too. Loneliness is an often feeling. As an introvert, I thrive on deep connection, on sharing experiences. It’s like magic when I can unburden and the other person just… gets it. Yet I hold back because I am afraid no one will understand, I am afraid my opinions are not enough anymore. And as they regale me with their exotic stories and adventures, I cannot help but think, in choosing this life, have I fallen behind?Am I missing out? Pair this fear and insecurity with distance and difference and you’ve got someone who is just completely lost in translation.
There are two truths to be found here, two truths every one must know: One is the above, that motherhood changes friendships (not totally but significantly). And two - the one that I still need to accept and embrace - is as we grow older, our lives move at different paces. Some go slower, some go quicker; some move, some stay, some are still deciding whether to move or stay. I was so used to sharing the same things, same emotions, same experiences with my friends but when I became a mother, it jarred me. We are so different now; we’re basically black and white.
And yet we can still be friends, the best of them if we do it right.
It is no one’s fault that we are on different planes. This is the life each of us has chosen to live. If friendships revolved around sameness, would there still be friendships? Can they be as rich as they can be? Yes, it is magic when two people can share the same thoughts and experiences but how wonderful it would be if we embraced the differences and really listened to each other. Now I know why they say peace starts within our own circle.
I still dream of the day when I can share these moments with the people I grew up with but for now, I shall listen to their personal stories with awe and amazement and hope that they are equally regaled by my tales of marriage and motherhood. It won’t be easy. Let’s face it: friendships require much more as we add years to our age. But let’s add to the narrative, too: there’s a motherhood tribe, a single girls’ night out, and there’s also a beautiful mix of all kinds of women in one table, breaking bread and sharing lives.