Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Guest Post: Mom Friends October 27, 2011

By Iris

Coming to terms with childlessness can be a very lonely process, especially when most of our friends, those we’ve reached out to over the years for support over things little and big, become difficult to be around.  Women who are consumed by motherhood and their children, and women who are preoccupied by the inability to have them, can sometimes make for a painful combination.

The bond of love between a mother and her child must and should be amazingly strong. I have been known to brag about my niece and nephew and to smother them each with hugs and kisses, probably more than their own mother does. So, I do not resent my mom friends for being less available to me than they were before having children, and I don’t mind listening to their concerns and stories about their kids, some of which I’m pretty fond of myself. It’s a different story, however, when a friend’s appreciation of her new role as a mother seems to translate into a devaluation of your own life’s worth because you have not given birth.

Much of what I read on childlessness and motherhood seems to enhance rather than reduce this divide between Moms and non-Moms, which made me really happy to come across Lisa Rankin’s tribute to her childless friends on that most difficult day for many of us, Mother’s Day.

And that got me feeling very grateful to those mom friends who help me hold on to perspective. The ones who remind me that there is more to life than motherhood, who know of my circumstances and encourage me to stay positive and enjoy my life, who remind me that happiness comes from within and that the grass is not always greener.  I’m grateful for their words and the sentiments of love and friendship they express.

Iris lives in Florida with her husband and best friend of many years. Five years ago infertility and other life stressors really messed with her head, but she’s gradually regaining her Self and her passion for life.


10 Responses to “Guest Post: Mom Friends”

  1. Dorothy Says:

    Great post because it is so uplifting and positive! Thanks for directing our collective gaze to all the wonderful mom friends we have.

    Lissa makes an interesting point in her article about having “only one” child. Some of my mom friends were surprised, too, when people asked if they planned to have more than one or two children.

    • Iris D Says:

      Hi Dorothy,

      When one of my friends became a mother at 41, he told me that the pressure to have kids did not end when you had one. That people always pressure you in one way or another and that for her the pressure was now on having another child. Her daughter now tells her that she wants a little brother or sister (but my friend is now 47). I have another friend who is now 40 that is stressed over secondary infertility.

      I don’t argue that all of my mom friends have been consistently supportive, but a few of those that have been, have really told me things that I needed to hear, things that have allowed me to regain some perspective.
      I think Lia’s post really does that nicely.

  2. Lynn Says:

    Great post. Forwarded it to my supportive mom friends and family.

  3. CiCi Says:

    Friends who “get you” during this process are gems. They are the ones that keep me from losing my sanity all together. Good post, good reminder to cherish the positive-ness.

  4. Iris D Says:

    @Lynn and @Cici, and others who might read this later. Wishing you all loads of positive energy and love.

  5. Jodykat Says:

    Mothers who ‘get’ our childlessness are precious. I wish there were more of them. I’m lucky to have a few.
    Mothers automatically ‘expect’ our understanding over the stresses in their lives, and they are often easier to appreciate because they are so ‘visible’.
    But the stress of childlessness is invisible. It’s all about what’s NOT there.
    It’s hard, because unless we talk about it, people forget. But by talking about it I worry about coming across as ungrateful for my life or self-obsessed. And sometimes I’m tired of talking about it. I want to get over it, get on with my life.
    I don’t know about you, but most days I’m fine with how things have turned out, and some days it breaks my heart. I suspect it will always be thus.

  6. queendame Says:

    A very unique and freeing view and the importance of having good friends. I enjoyed reading your post and will look forward to coming back.

  7. Rerah Says:

    My best friend and I have grown up together and been there for each other through many crises. Although she is a mother, she’s always been supportive and tactful. She continues to be a blessing!

  8. mccxxiii Says:

    Don’t let this sound as angry and awful as it’s going to, but I don’t understand how everyone can post such positive comments. Am I the only one who’s just freakin’ ANGRY?! The article that was linked to in this post … I know that lady meant well, but no, those are not ‘other ways to be a mom’ on Mother’s Day. I’m not a mom to my dogs … they’re dogs. I am the pack alpha and the caretaker, but that doesn’t make me a mom. I’m not a mom to my nephew … I’m an aunt, and the more time I spend with him the more it reinforces that I’m NOT his mom. All those things she mentioned just serve as reminders that I’m NOT anyone’s mom, and that society views me as ‘other’ and ‘lacking’ and ‘odd’ beccause I haven’t had that same formative female experience that is the norm.

    I don’t want to appreciate my female friends who have kids, I want to rage and scream and be pi**ed at the world that they all have something that I’ll never have. I don’t want their pity, and frankly don’t even want to be around them half the time because they serve as a reminder of what they have that I don’t. They may say that they “get” it, but they’re saying that while they’re holding their babies, so I really don’t think they do.

    And hell yes I do resent my mom friends for being less available to me. I used to have a bunch of friends who would have interesting, adult conversation over dinner. Now it takes an act of God to get together and either they bring the baby with them (gee, thanks) or they spend the whole time pre-occupied. Of course I resent that!!

    Maybe I just have exceptionally bad friends, or maybe everybody else is angry like me and they just won’t admit it … but I’m tired of pretending that I’m not angry and hurt just so I can “act nice” like a lady. I no longer have the energy to be positive and pleasant for show.

    • Iris D Says:

      With me it depends on the Mom friend. Some have made comments that have been very upsetting to me. (They probably didn’t mean anything by them. They were probably so absorbed in their own world and anxieties that they were completely unaware of who they were saying these things to.) As a consequence my relationship with them is not what it was, and I’m not all too sure it ever will.

      I’d love to get a dog, but I have allergies so I’m not sure if I ever will get one. Regardless, I don’t see pets as children or substitutes for children either… but I can see where a pet can bring a lot of joy into one’s life. I am an aunt. I am especially close to my niece, and I have to say that while I’m of course aware she’s not my daughter, I’m not sure I could have loved her more than I do. I call her my prozac. I have had two childless aunts, both of which have been/were always very, very close to me.

      I have a few friends who have been supportive. I think it is because they have gone through other life trials, so they are generally more empathetic. For whatever reason, it is those few friends who have helped me feel the most at peace in those all too often moments when I’ve felt utter despair. It is those friends who have known how to say the right things that I feel particularly grateful for.

      All that said, I’m pretty sure that we have all been or are angry at our circumstances, and there certainly are many mothers who do seriously Pi** me off, as you say, just not all, or not all the time. 🙂

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