Having a child changes everything. How you sleep, how you spend your money, how you feel about the world around you – nothing is the same as it was before you became a mom or a dad, and that includes friendships.
After the birth of my daughter, I was prepared for my body to be different but I really had no idea how my friendships would change. And change they did. Some for better, some for worse.
Some friendships just ended.
Not all friendships last forever, and that is the subject of “My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends,” an anthology of essays from the editors of The Herstories Project.
The essays are powerful. Some are hopeful, others are sad, and all of them are heartfelt.
I am honored to have an essay in this anthology and to share page space with amazing writers. The Jim Valvano quote that to have a really great day you need to laugh, cry and think is one of my favorites. I think it’s true of not just days, but also of books. Reading the essays in “My Other Ex” made me do all three. The essays that stuck with me the most, though, were the ones where motherhood played a role in the friendship.
The Motherhood section of “My Other Ex” is where I felt the most. My heart broke reading the piece by Alexandra Rosas. The part of her essay that really affected me was when she was on bed rest with a high risk pregnancy and called a friend and asked her to come visit as she was facing a long five months. The friend didn’t return her call.
The struggle just to have a child, and the pain of miscarriage, creates a huge strain on friendships, which Elline Lipkin details in a way that makes sense whether you have been there or not.
I don’t know a mom who hasn’t felt at some point that her pre-baby self is someone she doesn’t know any longer. Jennifer Simon’s beautiful piece about losing her pre-baby friends as well as her pre-baby self is beautiful and wrenching. It is followed by Sue Fagalde Lick’s “From Happy Hour to Happy Meal,” which may be the best and most true title ever.
One of my favorites is an essay entitled “Sometimes It’s Your Children Who Teach You” by Alyson Herzig, about a friendship that began as new moms and suffered when the children were in school. The wise words of Alyson’s eight year-old helped her recognize the power of true friendship and heal the rift.
She concluded, “Sometimes life delivers you that perfect person, and through the highs and lows, you need to make an effort to continue to water the garden or it will become filled with weeds.” So very true, and while it may be something we know, it is also a welcome reminder.
Like romantic break-ups, some are gradual, and some come as a surprise. Some are only temporary, but others are not. And all hurt.
That hurt is something that women don’t often discuss. Until now, until “My Other Ex.” In talking about the book with friends, every single one of them has related to it on some level. They have friendship breakups that they wanted to share or examine.