Life shifts or as I like to call them ‘chapter changes’ exist for most women sometime between the age of 25 and 35. Are you single, dating, engaged, married, pregnant, a new mom? Each new chapter you enter will inevitably cause a shift in how you spend your time and who you spend it with; furthermore, as you enter new stages the things you care about and talk about will follow suit. How many of you have ever had a friend who won’t stop talking about her new boyfriend? Or her wedding? What about the girl who posts everything about her new baby on social media? Chances are the conversation change will bother you if you are in a different stage. Your close friend you once shared so much with has gone through a chapter change making it harder for the two of you to relate. Her new obsession with her wedding is your biggest annoyance. While you may nod along as she discusses flowers and linens, you are actually collecting stories to share with your non-engaged friends who will agree that the wedding subject is over the top; ultimately, you’ll create a little distance in your relationship to keep yourself from becoming friendzilla.
I believe we are all creatures of comfort. I am drawn to the people I relate to, the people who I can carry on meaningful conversation with, the people who can offer me support, reassurance, and companionship. As a new mom, this last chapter change has been more radical than the previous. I’ve been automatically accepted into some kind of secret mom club where every mom receives an understanding nod. With Channing in tow, I have a commonality with strangers everywhere. That’s the thing about motherhood: there are mothers everywhere, which means there are people I can relate to everywhere. If Channing gets a little fussy at church, it’s no big deal; after all, there’s a mama at the end of the pew smiling at me and her face says it all, “she understands.” How many of us feel misunderstood? How many of us long for belonging? The mom club says, “I hear you, I feel you, and you are going to be okay.” It’s as though I joined a sorority of supporters. Yes, drama still exists, and mamas feel strongly about the choices they make (myself included), but without going down that rabbit hole - on a basic level, there is understanding.
In the lives of young women, chapter changes create opportunities to make new friends. If you are single and become engaged, it will be easier for you to rekindle relationships with other engaged and married friends. Now that you are two, you will establish stronger bonds with other married couples as you start shaping your future together. Your single friends, especially those friends who have played a prominent role in your social life, might feel neglected, or worse, unworthy. As you move into a new stage, your single friends who want to be part of your duo may feel left behind. You’ll find these friends hoping to be included in your new life and also feeling misunderstood. Whether you are the single friend or the one who has found her match, the disconnect in the friendship is a loss for both. For me the exception to this rule, includes the relationships that are the strongest; for example, the people we chose as Channing's Godparents and our families.
The need for women to relate and feel understood is integral to their nature. If you, like me, are one of the first to join the motherhood chapter in your friend group, tap into the opportunities at the tips of your fingers. Resources such as Facebook mom groups, local breastfeeding support groups, and bible study have all played a role in my development as a new mom. Through all the chapter changes, I try to focus on the positive relationships in my life, new and old, and keep a token of hope that one day when my friends from various stages become parents that our bond will be renewed.