I’ve always known that parenthood changes people, but in the past year I’ve learned that it changes a lot more people than just the new parents. I recognize that it is not easy to know what is needed of you as a friend to a new parent when you’ve never had a child yourself. Hell, I’m guilty myself of being a pretty terrible new-parent friend in the past! So I’ve taken the liberty to reflect on the past year and compile a handy guide for everyone with BFFs who recently have, or may someday plan to procreate.
“How To Not Be A Crappy Friend To Your BFFs Who Just Had A Baby.”
1) Before the baby arrives: Find out what you can help with when the time comes. Can you come over to let their dogs out while they are at the hospital? Can you come to the hospital and be in charge of delivery room security to keep unsavory family members or acquaintances at bay? (Bonus points if you volunteer to be the delivery room HD photographer)
2) When they are still in the hospital: Ask what they want from you. Do they want you to come visit? Come visit! Do they want you to stay away and let them have their first few days together as a family alone? Stay the hell away. Do they want you to bring them Thai food for dinner instead of crappy hospital food? Show up with that goddamn Thai food! Remember that right now, and forever more (but especially now) this is not about you.
3) The first few days at home: Call mom. Ask her how she is. Remind her of her value as a human and as your friend. It is a harsh reality to be thrust into this world where your only conversations take place while half (or fully!) asleep and are about chapped nipples and colors of baby poop. Gossip with her. Tell her about what she is missing around the office. Remind her that there is life outside of the mombie reality that she is living in right now. Call dad. Ask him if he can come out for a drink. Get him out of the house and remind him that, even though his wife is a hormonal mess and makes him feel worthless most of the time, he is valuable! He has that charm, wit, and sense of humor that all other BFFs envy.
4) The first few weeks at home: With permission, show up with food. Don’t ask what they want- they are tired of making decisions (and thinking in general)- and you know them well enough to bring something they will willingly consume. That will be good enough. Hold their baby and don’t feel jilted when they say “Can you handle this for a little while? GREAT!!!!” then mom disappear into the bathroom for a shower and dad to the den to nap for an hour while you are left with a newborn baby, watching the moving that you brought over without them.
5) The first months (ok, and really forever): Make plans with your BFFs, and more importantly, KEEP plans with your BFFs. If you make plans with your new parent friends which requires them to schedule a babysitter, do not bail on them. It takes a lot to get new parents to leave their baby in the care of someone else. Know that. As much as they crave sanity and a social life, it is difficult to trust another human with your own flesh and blood baby. If you make plans with your new parent friends that INCLUDE their baby, honor the time frame that THEY set up. I don’t care if you are used to eating dinner at 9pm. If your new parent friends need to make restaurant reservations at 5pm so they can get their baby home for a 7pm bedtime, you do whatever you need to do to be there with fricking bells on. Call it “lunch” amongst yourselves, for all we care. Just be there and love it. Under no circumstances forget or reschedule these plans. Even though they may seem lame to you, you need to realize that this is the only shred of social plans that your BFFs have had all week and they have been looking forward to it as if it were the party of the year. Saying “Oops! I forgot I made other plans at the same time for [super fancy event] at [super not-baby-friendly location]- YOU SHOULD COME!” is not an option for your babtsitterless friends, and is a sure way to cause new mom to angry drink margaritas and talk shit about you all night. BONUS BFF POINTS: If you are looking to not only maintain BFF status, but catapult yourself to the next level of friend-love, volunteer to babysit while mom and dad go out. We had a friend do this for us and, to this day, I tell everyone I know about it. It was truly the most refreshing, generous gift that anyone gave me in the post-partum period (or maybe my life.) Sure, we just grabbed dinner then walked around Target, but the fact that someone loved me enough to put aside their own plans so that my husband and I could reconnect on our first date night in months still speaks volumes to me about that particular friendship.
6) For the rest of eternity: Care.. Or “care”. Even if you don’t, pretend you do. Your BFFs now live in a poopy, tantrum-infused reality. You are still their BFFs (if you’ve followed the steps above) but BFF means something different now. Be OK with that. More than that, be HAPPY about it. Be invested in their child’s life. Your BFFs don’t care if you go months without seeing them, but they won’t forgive you for going months without seeing their baby. If you want to stay BFFs, you’re now BFFs-by-association with their baby whether you like it or not. Live it. Love it. Own it.
This may all sound horrible now, but I assure you that when the tables have turned and you decide to create some minions of your own, you will regret ever not treating your BFFs as outlined above.