I'll never forget the first time I felt like I was missing out on time with my friends as a new mother. It was at 8:30pm on a Tuesday when I received a text, "Hey! We're grabbing a drink around your apartment. Meet us there?" At the time that I read this text, I was feeding my newborn son, Mason, who'd been home for under a month. With a sigh, I replied, "So sorry, feeding Mason right now, staying in tonight. Let's get together soon!" At this point in my new motherhood journey, I didn't know when "soon" would be.  

I was the first person to have a baby in my circle of friends. When my husband and I decided to start a family, I was in my late 20s, living in New York City and working in daytime television. Other than switching from cocktails to mocktails and occasionally staying home on a Friday night to rest, social life didn’t change much during my pregnancy. Living and working in the city kept me active throughout my pregnancy as I often walked from place to place or took the subway. I worked until the end of the production season, which would also be my last season, as I decided to take some time off and be a stay-at-home mom. I went into labor two days later and boom: I officially entered motherhood and everything changed.

While I heard that motherhood brings all kinds of challenges, I wasn't aware that this also included adjustments with my current group of friends. I wasn't prepared for how much I'd miss out on being with friends after I became a mama. Being at home with my son and recovering from childbirth, I would scroll on social media and watch my friends' stories as they enjoyed themselves at a rooftop lounge, hung out in Central Park and walked around the city. 

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As I sat at my kitchen table, pumping breastmilk with Mason napping nearby, I couldn't help feeling left out, forgotten and isolated. I would wonder, Is this it? Am I just the mom-friend now? The one who people presume doesn't want to go anywhere? I do! I just can't. In addition to these thoughts and feelings, I felt guilty and selfish for wanting to go out with them in the first place. I didn't want to leave my baby's side, but I also was yearning for some me-time with my friends.   

I would have to remind myself to check in with my friends—something that once came to me so naturally suddenly became exhausting and I often felt that I was failing them. My life revolved around pumping, cleaning bottles and infant clothes and Mason's feeding and sleep times, so any visits would have to be scheduled. Even during a friend's visit, I couldn't be completely present. While prepping Mason's bottle and checking that it wasn't too hot or cold for him, I would miss a chunk of our conversation and need my friend to repeat it once I was settled and feeding him. 

I realized I'm not a bad mom for missing my pre-mom life, for wanting to hang out with my friends at my leisure, grabbing a coffee with them and taking a walk.

I didn't know what to expect from my friends when I became a mother. I didn't think they would be upset or frustrated with me and I ended up putting that on myself as both a friend and a new mama. I have to say, my friends were incredible at adapting to me being a mother and I'm grateful to have them in my life. They respected my new schedule, would send me "Hi mama, just thinking of you" texts and would surprise me with coffee, meals and sweets (my favorite) during their visits. I remember when one of my oldest friends came to meet Mason for the first time. I greeted her at our front door and as I walked towards our living room, assuming she followed, I heard the kitchen sink running. I turned around and she was doing my dishes and asking me if I needed laundry done, too. No matter how often I told her to stop cleaning my apartment, she kept on. After she left that day, I cried in appreciation for our friendship and how much I had missed seeing her.

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As life moves forward, of course, I have times of missing my friends, but I don't feel as if I'm being left behind. As Mason gets older, I continue to adapt to finding that stability in being present for family and friends. I realized I'm not a bad mom for missing my pre-mom life, for wanting to hang out with my friends at my leisure, grabbing a coffee with them and taking a walk. I also learned that I'm not a bad friend for taking the time to care for my son and collect my thoughts. In honoring this time, I can be my best self for my family, friends and me.