To my mama friend I called flakey: I’m so sorry I judged you

mom with toddler asleep on her lap
Nasos Zovoilis/Stocksy

Before having a baby, I didn’t understand. Yes, I knew that moms are more busy, more tired, more stressed. Moms have more responsibilities, more unmet needs, more unfinished tasks. They have less time, less energy, less sleep. Showers, seated meals and cute outfits become rare occurrences..

But I didn’t understand when my mom friends would bail last minute. Plans to go rock climbing a week out would fall through twenty minutes before our date, and I’d be left tied into a rope with no belayer. I’d make a dinner reservation, only to receive a “SORRY!!!!” text message and be left at the table hungry and alone. Countless unanswered phone calls and texts. I labeled the behavior and the people as flakey—sometimes they’d bail for a reason I understood, like a sick child, and other times, they’d bail without explanation or justification. I felt annoyed and perplexed.

After becoming a mom, I get it. I can’t make plans more than a few days out, or if I do, I certainly can’t promise I’ll stick to them. My energy, my son’s mood and my social capacity are all too variable. Please know that I so, so want to go out and be with my girlfriends. It makes me feel whole and human and like I have my own body and mind and soul separate from my child. But sometimes (often) I need more rest and family time to recharge and just make it through another night. Sometimes my baby’s nervous system needs me close and still and present. Sometimes my nervous system needs him close and still and present. It’s why the idea of any standing date is so intimidating. I won’t know what I’ll want to do tomorrow when nighttime parenting could be hard tonight.

And mama, I’m so, so sorry for my assumptions, my unkind thoughts and judgments. No one deserves that. Least of all, a mama working hard and doing her very best. I know our relationship has changed, and I’m watching my friendships and partnership change. My availability, energy and time is so limited, and sometimes that means my friends get less of me than they used to.

But the super solid, ride-or-die girlfriends haven’t gone anywhere, kids or not. They know that I’m still me even if I’ve changed. This season is short in the scheme of my life, even if it’s intense. Connection now might be sharing Instagram memes or a text that you’re doing great and I’m not sleeping either. It might be a catch-up phone call that’s interrupted ten minutes in by screams for “wawa!” It might be a quick hug through a fence or a borrowed food processor. Maybe a thirty-minute meal on your floor before he asks to go home and read his favorite “booh.” All of it matters. Every form of connection is meaningful and it’s helping to ground me right now.

Canceling is a superpower. Setting boundaries is a superpower. And you, mama, are a superhero. Let’s make tentative plans to go to the park, and when your baby’s nap goes sideways and you have spaghetti sticking to your wall, we can find another time. I’d love to try to go mountain biking this weekend, and when you see every hour on the clock throughout the night, you can simply text “can’t go” and need no further explanation. Let’s plan to talk at 10am tomorrow, and when you don’t pick up, I know it’s not about me and I’ll just keep calling until you do.

I love you. This season is short, sweet and intense. But I’m here for you every step of the way.