If you’ve had a baby recently, chances are you’ve probably not put wild socialising at the top of your to-do list. No doubt you’ve become more acquainted with your dressing gown than before. The thought of going out the way you used to, dressed up, ready for a late night, is like another world. In your current state, you can’t imagine it ever happening again and this might make you feel like your social life, as you knew it, is over for good. It isn’t. There will be nights out again in time and you will enjoy them all the more because they are more of a treat than the norm.
Unless you’re very lucky, it is unlikely that all of your close circle of friends living conveniently nearby will have had babies at the same time. It is therefore vital that you find people who you can talk to about what you’re going through. Quite often the new mums you will meet will be from all walks of life, backgrounds, and cultures. You might not normally choose to be in each others’ company, but you have a baby as common ground and these women will be a great sounding board for all your thoughts, anxieties, and feelings. The new mothers you meet at this time could become great friends or you might eventually drift away from each other, but they will have got you through this turbulent time.
As your child grows, you will be only too delighted to engage in other matters, but at the beginning your baby will be all absorbing. A mother I spoke to commented that if she had started a very busy, time-consuming, exciting new job, those around her would be quite happy to let her talk about it at great length, so why was it she felt eye-rolling going on when she wanted to talk about her baby? Yes, the world is full of people who have given birth, but your experience is unique and important to you, so seek out those with whom you can share it. If it’s initially hard to find people you can share with in depth, then online forums, chatrooms and help networks are great places to share experiences.
I have a childless friend I’ve known since childhood who has consistently ignored suggestions to meet in the last few years. This is one of the harder things to deal with. If you have stepped into the brave new world of motherhood, you may leave behind some friends who do not have children and may feel regretful or angry. Hopefully the friendship can withstand it, but it may be too painful for them to see you and you have to respect that. It is often wrongly assumed that it’s the mothers who have withdrawn from the childless woman. In fact, becoming a mother can be incredibly isolating and many feel it is they who have been sidelined. In a workshop I ran, a participant recalled looking at pictures on Facebook of events she’d not been invited to. She felt ‘conveniently cropped.’ When you see pictures of former friends gadding about at parties, remember that this is a carefully edited snapshot of their life.
The people to be with at this time are those that you can be yourself with and lean on for help, not those with whom you have to wear a mask of coping. Hopefully this will include old friends, family members, and new acquaintances, who will be a wonderful support system. It is important not to retreat completely from the world. If the thought of a night out is too overwhelming, start slowly. Arrange a lunch or afternoon tea meet with some friends without your baby. Do something that it would be hard to do with a baby, such as a long walk, the theatre, or pampering yourself at a spa. Once you’ve done it once, it will become easier. The biggest obstacle is granting yourself permission to be out and enjoying yourself as a solo person.