Dear Friends, I’m Sorry For Being A Sh*tty Friend Since Becoming a Parent

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Dear friends, I’m sorry.

Sorry for not being there for you anymore since my baby was born. Sorry for the fact that I’ve basically ignored you the last year. For only talking about baby-related things. For being such a shitty friend.

I’m especially sorry for all those times I didn’t show up, couldn’t make it, or had to cancel, whether it was last-minute or well in advance.

My responses varied from ‘Are you out of your mind? My baby sleeps at 9.30pm!’ (which actually meant: ‘Are you out of your mind? Do you seriously think I’ll manage to stay awake after 9pm?!) to ‘I’m so sorry, but my baby has a fever so I won’t take her. Leave her at home? There’s no way I’ll leave her when she’s feeling ill!’

Actually, they all came down to the same thing: I can’t because I have a baby.

It may sound like a lame excuse, but it’s not. It’s the truth.

I also think it sucks I can’t join you guys anymore on crazy outings since I became a parent. I’d have loved to go along to that festival, just like in the old days. That wild water rafting trip sounded amazing and I’m absolutely gutted that I couldn’t be at your bachelorette party in Vegas.

But how would I have combined these things with taking care of my baby daughter?

Apologies for the phone calls that get interrupted. Every freaking time.

Because my daughter grabs the dog’s bone, tries to steal my coffee, or almost chokes on a piece of bread, which is why I don’t answer my phone anymore. Sorry, but when my baby finally sleeps, all noise is forbidden.

Apologies for video-calls that don’t show my face, but instead a blurred close-up of a baby hand that’s trying to smear mashed banana all over the screen.

Calls that suddenly end mid-conversation, because my daughter has figured out how to press the red button.

And also sorry for the fact that, when we finally manage to talk longer than five minutes at a time, it’s always to the background music of a crying baby.

I still haven’t managed to find my child’s ‘mute’-button.

Sorry that we always turn up half an hour late.

At least. With a bottle of wine and a chocolate bar, both bought last-minute, instead of the home-baked apple pie/chocolate brownies/carrot cake, that I used to bring along before I had a baby.

Nowadays, we come packed with 10 kilos of diapers, wet wipes, cuddly toys and extra baby clothes just in case, but nearly forget the fact it was your birthday.

Instead of a sweet and thoughtful personal gift, you get some flowers we bought at the petrol station on the way to your home. I’m sorry.

Normally I remember your wedding anniversary, Christmas and your child’s birthday. Now I’m so damn exhausted I’m already happy if I can remember to brush my teeth every night.

Long conversations about life, love and laughter have been replaced by ‘Yes, fine, busy, how about you? No, I can’t make it then.’

We used to dance until the early hours. Now we sit on the couch, chat and leave before 6pm because the baby needs to eat.

Sorry. I’m also a bit sad that I’ve become such a boring person.

Sorry that even when I’m there, I’m not really present. Not the way I was before.

Yes, I listen to your stories. I might even try to give some useful answers, but you’re right: I’m actually somewhere else with my thoughts. Because I have a child now. And she’s always on my mind.

When she’s with me, I permanently have at least one eye on my baby.

Because I don’t trust your cat, that evil creature with its razor-sharp claws. Because I don’t trust my daughter, who stands way too close to your brand new TV, clutching her sippy cup that she currently likes to smash into things.

I am listening, really.

The reason I’m not looking at you is that I want to prevent my baby burning her hands on your fireplace – which is indeed very cosy, but perhaps not so safe for a crawling rugrat.

Because my daughter is about to wipe her dirty snot-covered fingers on your white curtains. Or because I’m afraid she’ll try to insert the pencil she just found into your wall outlet.

Even if the surroundings are completely baby-proof, I’m still not present. Sorry. But you see, my daughter is currently clinging to my leg while screaming ‘Mummymummymummymummy!!’ so I have some trouble concentrating.

She wants attention, right now.

Needs to be comforted.

She wants to nurse.

One more cuddle.

And another one.

She needs a clean diaper.

Wants the blue pacifier instead of the pink one (and of course we only took the pink one and left the blue one back home).

Sometimes I’m not paying any attention to you, the person who has been my friend for over a decade, because all my attention has already taken up by a tiny person who hasn’t even been in my life for a full year.

Because she does something that’s so extraordinary special and amazing (anti-climax alert: like waving or clapping her hands) that I can’t help watching.

I know it’s not nice and perhaps it makes me a crappy friend, but she’s my baby, so for me she’s the most important person in the entire world.

Even if I’m there and my daughter isn’t (something that has happened only three times in the last year), then I’m still not entirely present. Because I worry. Non-stop. I know it’s silly, but I can’t help it.

Would my partner remember to change her diaper regularly? What if he doesn’t? Even worse: what if he forgets to feed her? Oh no, perhaps my daughter is hungry right now! Or unhappy? Maybe she’s missing her mum? Or something terrible happens and I’m not there. Help!

“Oh, I’m sorry. Yes, you were saying..?”

To all my friends who also have children: I hope you can understand me a bit.

To all my childless friends: I hope you can forgive me. I promise, sometime in the future the normal me will be there again.

Maybe not soon, as my baby will soon start walking, but please stick with me. Trust me: I’ll be back.

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