"To all my friends with babies, I apologise."
"I can't believe I showed up to meet your newborn without food, and I'll never refer to my dog as my fur baby again."
We do all sorts to prepare ourselves for becoming parents. For me, there was no stone unturned, no book unread and no episode of One Born unwatched. But it's often said that you have to experience it to truly 'get it'. There's a certain understanding between parents and caregivers — we see each other. We know the craic.
I've seen it happen many times with my friends, as we grew and they started their families. The ones who knew, really knew. The rest of us empathised, celebrated, listened and got on board as much as we could with our limited, outsider knowledge.
When I look back I wonder, was I invested enough? When my friends became parents, did I really recognise it for the world-changing phenomenon it is?
I can't blame youth, as we mostly started quite late. I'm one of the last at 39-years-old. But if I knew then what I know now, would I have done more? I hope so.
Writer Ainsley Doty had a similar enlightenment recently. She put pen to paper for Today's Parent to apologise to her friends with babies for transgressions past. Her words say it all.
Ever since you had a baby, our friendship has been in a bit of a rut. For a long time, I thought it was your fault, because as Faith Hill says, a baby changes everything. But recent events have made me realize that I’m actually the one to blame. I owe you an apology. Several, in fact.
"To start, I’m sorry I showed up to meet your baby empty handed. I figured I’d checked off the gift-giving box at your baby shower, but I’ve since learned that only an ass-hat comes to a newborn visit without food. Even worse, when you asked me if I’d eaten, I responded with “not really” and let you pay for pizza. I understand if you never want to speak to me again over this blatant exhibit of ass-hattery, and we both know that selfish moment wasn’t the only time I blew it.
"There was also my Mother’s Day post on Instagram, the one of Peanut and I wearing matching #furmama and #furbaby T-shirts. I now realize that having a dog is not like having a kid. You can’t put a baby in a cage and leave it alone for eight hours, and you can’t pay a stranger $20 to walk your baby around the block with a pack of other babies (OK, maybe you can, but you probably shouldn’t). Plus, a puppy won’t bite your nipple (or if it does, you’re doing something very wrong). I also promise to stop referring to my Kombucha SCOBY and half-finished novel as “my children,” because I want at least a few actual moms to continue being my friends.
"I’m sorry that when you referred to your nipples as “monkey thumbs,” I inwardly cringed and assumed it would never happen to me. I should have gone home, kissed both my nips gently on the forehead, thanked them for their continued loyalty, and emotionally prepared for the day that they, too, would be wrenched into a breast pump and instantly transformed into ape flanges.
"I’m sorry that I cancelled our day date at the last minute. I didn’t realize how badly you needed to get out of the house and make contact with the outside world. I didn’t get that you’d looked forward to the outing all week, promising yourself that everything would be OK if you could just make it to Sunday. I didn’t know that you’d spent all day getting the baby ready, that you’d felt guilty stealing a shower while she wailed, and that you’d put on mascara for the first time since giving birth. I didn’t know that my “Sry, gotta bail” text an hour before made you cry. I didn’t understand how lonely and abandoned you felt in that moment, but if I’d only taken the time to think about it, I probably could have figured it out.
"Bringing a baby into our friendship changed a lot of things, and I told myself that you were the one who became inaccessible, but that wasn’t the case. I always knew where to find you—at home with a tiny human using your body as a jungle gym—and I should have been there for you. Looking back, I wish I’d held the baby a little longer so you could take a moment for yourself. I should have dropped off groceries, or offered to babysit so you and your partner could go for a walk and hold hands. I should have called every few days to check in.
"I’m sorry it took me having my own baby to realize all of the things I’ve done wrong. As it turns out, I could really use a nap, a hot meal, a shoulder to cry on, and a good friend to share the joy with.
An apologetic and enlightened new mom"
When I eventually became a mother myself, I was wrapped in love. Those closest to me steadied me, fed me, reassured and guided me.
And not just the other mothers.
I vow to pay it forward, to make up in some small part for what's gone before. If you know me well and are planning to have a baby any time soon, prepare to be knee-deep in traybakes and grocery doorstep drops.
To the ones who carried me, thank you. I'll never forget it.