We had a baby, but lost our friends! What do we do?
Q: We recently became the parents of a wonderful baby girl. We are the first of our group of friends to have a child, and it’s changing the way our friends treat us. Nobody ever seems to call us anymore to go out. Is there some way we can be parents and stay close to our childless friends?
A: Does your “new heaven” make them blue?
Blue Heaven was released in 1927, but great artists like Frank Sinatra and Fats Domino kept George Whiting’s lyrics alive generation after generation: “A smiling face, a fireplace, a cosy room, A little nest that nestles where roses bloom. Just Molly and me, and baby makes three. We’re happy in my blue heaven.” Your newborn will graduate from high school a century after those words captured the contentment parents feel when they look at a life that exists because of their love for one another. But the world goes on outside the nest! It’s possible that you may have changed the way that you treat your friends, too.
What can you do to strengthen your friendships?
• Hold back on the latest baby milestones as conversation starters.
• Concentrate on the topics that helped strengthen your friendships in the “pre-baby” days.
• Have friends come over; hire a young adolescent as a “mother’s helper” to watch over your daughter so that you are relaxed.
• Arrange child care and then invite your friends to events that you enjoyed together before the birth.
Open up to your friends about your feelings and then listen to their responses. It may be that they assume that you can’t find a baby-sitter or that you’ve lost interest in other activities now that you have the baby. Perhaps, they’ve been trying to have a baby for a while and need to work through some of their own feelings before they can be around your daughter on a frequent basis.
Could this be a time to expand your friendship network?
By the time children go to school, their parents are used to being introduced as “Shannon’s mom” or “Ryan’s dad.” Just as the children journey as a cohort (Class of 2027!), parents do, too!
• If your church has a nursery, ask other parents that you meet there to go for coffee or bagels after Mass.
• Ask if the parish will sponsor a faith-sharing potluck for new parents.
• See if the local community education center, parks and recreation or expectant parent organization has a parent-infant program. Search online for local programs.
Many of your childless friends will be glad that they can tap into your expertise once they become new parents! Just think – you’ll be able to give them the heads-up on the teen years, too!