I became a parent more than 10 years ago.
Everyone tells you that your life is going to change in an instant, and boy, does it. But what I didn't expect was how my relationships with my friends would change.
Sure, I knew I'd have less time overall (I’d have another human to take care of, after all) but I didn't fully realize how little time I'd have. The spare time I did have became a precious commodity, with what felt like a million things competing for priority. I spent more time than I’d care to admit deciding just how to spend it.
Yes, parenthood comes with a price—sometimes it’s your sanity, other times it's lost friendships. The hard truth is it’s a permanent balancing act, and it’s anything but easy—worth it, of course—but never easy.
If I wrote a note to my non-parent friends, it would look something like this:
1. I'm tired.
I know I'm past the newborn stage, and the toddler stage, too, but I've come to realize the stage doesn't matter—it's all exhausting. The exhaustion is both physical and mental, so forgive me if I forgot your birthday, or didn't call you back when I said I would. I'm not a bad friend, I just have a lot on my plate.
2. I would love to do _________, but I can't.
I love going out just as much as I did in college. In fact, thinking of those college nights sometimes keeps me entertained when I am up in the middle of the night with a sick kid, but that's not my life anymore. I'm responsible for raising these children, and I need to be able to function enough to take care of them. It doesn’t mean I’m judging you because you can, but don’t judge me because I can’t.
3. I have to take care of myself.
I've learned that saying no to something doesn't always mean I don't want to do it, it just means that I can't do it and still manage to fit in enough time to make my health and happiness a priority.
4. I can't afford _________ anymore.
Kids are expensive, and it's not just the diapers and wipes that cost money. I worry about their future. I started saving for their college education when I was still paying off my student loans. I contribute to their savings accounts monthly so they have a little something for when they start their adult life. While I'd love to have a money tree in my backyard (still waiting for Home Depot to stock those!), but I don't, so I have to be wise about when and where I spend my money.