I'm very lucky when it comes to friends. My best friend from college lives right down the street from me and we have children four months apart. It's amazing to have someone sharing this "new life" with me who also knows all about my "old life." I put those in quotes because times have certainly changed. We have been through dorm rooms, dating nightmares, broken hearts, drunken escapades, the death of my father, shared pets, weddings...you name it. We essentially were pushed out of the nest and grew up together.
There was a period of time where we didn't live close by. In our late twenties, my friend lived across the country. She met her husband while there, got married and had her first child. When her son Jack was two years old, they moved back and we have been a few miles apart ever since. Abby had her second child only four months before I had my first. They are so adorably close.
I absolutely loved being a new mother. My son was colicky at first and then became a precocious and independent baby but I loved every minute. He was a free-spirited and wild toddler but I continued to love it all. While I was reveling in the newness of motherhood and the cuteness of my son, my friend's son was going through the three's and four's. He drove her nuts! I remember her complaining about how much he talked and in my head I thought "How awful! She should just be glad that he is so smart and inquisitive!" When he acted out I thought "She needs to spend more quality time with him!" I hate to say it, but I judged her. And I judged her hard. We had lunch with a pregnant friend and this girl asked Abby and I how things were going. I gushed on and on about how wonderful and amazing my son was and Abby said her kids were making her crazy. Again, I judged and couldn't even imagine that she thought that.
Fast forward a few years. I bet you know what's coming, right? My rambunctious and hilarious toddler is now a sassy and willful three year old. He talks back and throws tantrums. Having two children has made me so exhausted that I rarely have time to play with him or spend "quality" time with him. I silently beg for him to stop talking for just one minute of the day so I can think clearly. On a regular basis he drives me insane. And through it all, I remember how I judged my dear friend. I think she knew at the time was I was thinking and was patiently waiting for me to learn that motherhood is hard and will push you to your limits. That mothering a baby is a challenge but that it's nothing compared to parenting a toddler and preschooler. I don't even want to think about the teen years to come!
I no longer judge, but instead learn from my friend who is three years ahead of me in parenting. I see her struggles and sympathize knowing that my time is coming. What I've learned is that we all do our best as mothers. It's a job that no-one can prepare us for. So please people, don't judge me and I won't judge you. We're in this crazy thing called motherhood together!