With Family Far Away, Friends Can Step in With Advice

Leaning on friends for support

My wife grew up in Philly and her good friends from childhood threw her a baby shower in Pennsylvania a month or so ago. Since she has been in Atlanta for quite some time, she has made some great friends and they threw her a second shower here last weekend. And since this was a couple’s shower, where her girlfriends bring their husbands, I invited some of my male friends to the “South of the Border”-themed party.

Her friends went above and beyond for this event. They ordered a huge spread of Mexican food, hung a piñata and brought enough margaritas to get my whole neighborhood drunk.  The party also had beer pong and good music so it was not your typical baby shower.  I really appreciated the ladies’ efforts and could not thank them enough.

While the party exceeded my expectations, what really blew my mind was the love and support that my wife and I received from our friends in Atlanta. I was originally somewhat nervous about raising a child so far away from our families. I grew up in a large family in New Jersey where most of my 17 cousins lived within a half an hour from each other. There was always someone available to look after us or my cousins in a jam.  There would always be someone around your age with whom you could spend time at a holiday party.

From a parenting perspective, I was worried that I would not have anyone to fall back on. I remember my mother constantly reaching out to my aunts and grandmothers if someone was sick. Also, when my cousins would get in trouble, their mothers would try to figure out their next move by discussing it with my mother and aunts. Also, up North, my cousins leave their children with their mothers while they work or go to overnight events. My brothers do the same with my mother. Grandparents seem to love this more than anyone. I was worried that my family would not have any of this support.

However, at this party on Saturday, our friends in Atlanta showed a ton of support. While my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the gifts that were given, what we enjoyed most was great advice and well wishes. A lot of people really made me feel confident that my wife and I would do just fine and they advised that they were anxious for their first children, too. They also offered time with their families when our baby arrived.

The gifts that people gave also showed that people really cared about us. Some people went off the registry because they knew exactly what was necessary to raise a child. I appreciate this kind of thing because they have been down this road and probably do know better than we do. That is not saying much, but I do appreciate them teaching us from their trials and tribulations as first-time parents.

Now that our parents have finally begun to master the art of cell phone use, we can still regularly reach out to them for any advice outside of our local circles, too. While it is not the same relationship that my nieces and nephews will have with my family, it will still be great. When I was young, it would have been a lot harder to actually speak with my grandparents on the phone because nobody ever picked the damn thing up when you called. It is a lot harder to come up with an excuse to miss a call on your cell. But my wife’s mother and my parents will speak to their grandchild enough to shower him with love.

While I know it is not the family with whom I grew up, my Atlanta family will be really helpful in this journey that my wife and I are about to begin. They have been very helpful to my wife and really showed a lot of support to me this past weekend.

Besides, if they throw parties like this for baby showers, they are already pretty similar to my blood relatives.


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