For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to have a baby. The idea of being pregnant and bringing life into this world always sounded magical. I literally dreamed of what it would be like to have life inside me. I spent more time than I care to admit imagining the moment I would find out I was pregnant.
Once it finally happened and I overcame my disbelief (which was pretty intense – ask Bill), I had a relatively easy pregnancy. As new moms do, I spent months reading, researching and learning about childbirth and how to care for my new little snug.
While there were certainly bumps along the way, including an unexpected stay in the NICU, I’ve been blessed to have a relatively easy time compared to some others. Our baby girl is a healthy, thriving kid. I’ve been able to breastfeed well past my goal of 12 months. Mara is consistently in the 90+ percentile on the growth curve. We’re doing it.
Yes, all of the horror stories you read about are true. Weird things happen to your body. You skip more showers than you can ever dream. You live a life generally ok with weird fluids and crumbs everywhere. And it’s somehow ok.
However, when we picked up our life and moved more than 1,000 miles across the country with a four month old, I suddenly realized I wasn’t prepared for the one thing no one ever told me about having kids.
You will never again be just you. I was basically giving up being just Rachael.
Forevermore, I will be known as Rachael the mom. Mara’s mother. And that can be terrifying.
Let me explain. When we moved to St. Louis I was unsure of how I would meet new people in a brand new town. I even read books on how to make friends. I was so lucky to meet amazing, lifelong friends through church and through a strong community of bloggers. I even made a friend randomly on Twitter.
If I’m being honest with myself, making friends was a part-time job. Most of my coworkers would be extremely surprised by this but I’m probably an extreme introvert. Only my closest friends and Bill know how much I hate small talk – and as an extension, networking events. Why do I want to recount the basics of my life at a very superficial level with someone just because society says that’s how you meet people? When we moved to St. Louis, in the goal of making friends, I forced myself to get out, go beyond my comfort zone and attend events.
When we moved to New Haven, that wasn’t an option. Even just going to the gym requires scheduling, planning and pumping schedules. I signed up for Bumble BFF but found all of the women that seemed interesting mentioned they were looking for happy hour buddies. Going to happy hour on the regular is nearly impossible for a mom of a young child. Add in the fact that my partner is attending law school and you can forget about it.
When I mention to non-moms that I have a baby the reaction I get is something between “oh that’s cute!” to “uhh cool.” But most of the time it’s clear that befriending a mom is more trouble that it’s worth.
One year since our move, I can say I’ve met some great people. I certainly haven’t found a new best friend, but I’m slowly settling into what it means to make friends when you have children. You befriend people at your gym, but accept you’re unlikely to do more than workout with them. You schedule play dates for your toddler based on the fact that you get along with the parents more than your kids play together. (Here’s a secret no one tells you: kids don’t really ‘play together’ until well after two years old. Before that they’re just occupying the same space.)
But more than anything, you come to appreciate the quiet moments you can find for yourself. I relish a quiet Saturday afternoon when Bill is at the library and Mara naps for two hours after lunch. I find that little bit of ‘me time’ fills me up and gives me space to think and refill my energy stores. Spoken like a true introvert.