I was a younger mom. I got pregnant at 24 and gave birth less than a week after my 25th birthday. My son was a beautiful surprise but not part of my meticulously planned 20s. I was overjoyed when he came into this world and haven’t regretted the decision to become a young, single mom once.
It was lonely, though.
Living and working in New York City, very few of my friends had children. Soon after my son was born I moved in with a single, male friend from college to save money, and my mom came to stay with us to help out. I tried to balance all the wants of a 20 something in the Big Apple with the demands of motherhood. I wanted to go to Brooklyn rooftop parties on Saturday and boozy brunches on Sundays with him and his boyfriend. Instead, I usually fell asleep to Daniel Tiger on Saturdays and cleaned blueberries off every surface on Sundays.
Still, I was happy.
Only recently when a good friend had a son and we were all trying to meet for Happy Hour did I realize what I truly missed out on during those years: Compassion. Our group of friends was willing to travel hours if needed, to make sure we were close to both work and home for her. We wanted to make sure, as the mom of an infant, that this outing was convenient and allowed her to have fun but get home to baby ASAP.
I didn’t have that.
And, I was jealous. I think I had been for a long time. When we moved to Westchester a new acquaintance gave birth. Her friends (all moms) organized a potluck delivery service for the first month of motherhood. Everyone picked a day or two that month that they would deliver homemade food. Someone asked if I’d be willing to make something because I love to cook. I said no, lied that I was too busy. Really, I was green with envy. No one did that for me, I thought.
I was wrong.
Of course, when a woman has friends who have had children or are having children, they know what to say and do. They understand that you don’t want to be asked out to an open bar (because you can’t afford to spend the next day recovering from that kind of hangover, even if you did get a babysitter). That you’d much rather have friends come over with a bottle of wine and a casserole so you don’t have to cook the next day.
My friends didn’t know that.
I can’t hold a grudge because of that. I can only be grateful that they were loving and kind when I had my son. They remained friends even though we had less time together and I bailed more than once on important events. It wasn’t their fault that they didn’t know what a mother needed – they weren’t moms. And now, as a mother, I know it takes a village to get through it all. They were my village and I would now be theirs.