No, I'm sorry, but I don't have time.
April 23, 2013 9:07 AM   Subscribe

I have had a best friend since college. We are now both married and in our mid/ late 30's. I feel like we have nothing in common anymore and talking to her is always a downer. She also made some comments in the past that really offended me, but she has no idea. I recently had a baby and now have absolutely no desire to speak to her, because baby is my whole world and takes up every waking moment of my time and what isn't taken up by baby is taken up by husband and household work (I now stay home full time). Did you let your only friend slip away after you had kids and later regret it?

I will say it: I am a bad friend.
She calls, but I usually don't pick up because I can't. When I do get around to calling her back I can hear the tension in her voice that she is pissed. I don't talk to her about the baby at all because I don't think she really wants to hear me go on and on- I just don't have anything else to talk about so I never say much. She goes on about the same downer things she has always done. My world is our little family. It is all I need.

I have said to her the easiest way for me to chat is via text so I don't wake the baby & so she doesn't have to listen to me 'talking' to the baby. She continues to call- but when we do talk she always has this tone that I never used to hear from her. She wants to come over, but last time she did she was obviously high (I haven't done that since college, but I don't care if she still wants to- just not when you are coming to hold the baby) & trying to hide the resentment she felt because I have been so out of touch.
I have flat out said- Hey look, I'm sorry I am so out of touch, but between baby/ husband/ house when I do get a free moment I just want to relax. She usually just says ok in a tone that implies it's not ok.
I feel badly because we have been friends for so long and I know I am hurting her feelings by not reaching out, but a big part of me doesn't care. We have nothing in common any more except our past. I started feeling this way before the baby, but now it seems the gap has widened even more.

Over the last year she has made some comments that make me see her differently and for some reason I just can't shake them. The first was when we had a miscarriage and instead of letting me vent it became about how my pregnancy affected her life and made her realize she never wanted children. Then, when we found out our natural birth plans were out the window because of severe pre eclampsia, she commented about how she though they were a bad idea to begin with- knowing full well how much they meant to me and how I was really struggling to accept I wasn't going to have the experience that I had been looking forward to for years. Then, when she came to visit us in the hospital after baby was born, it became all about how much research she had done on my condition and how much it worried her and how it (again) affected her. She then said she was worried about me but not so much the baby because she didn't know the baby. For some reason that comment was the straw. The way she seemed so dismissive as to what could have been the fate of our baby really hurt me. I didn't say anything because I figured I was just hormonal. Months later it still bothers me.

Is it time to let this friendship go? Will I regret it? Will there come a time that I'm really missing adult time and wish I had her?
I know only I can make this decision, but I would love to hear anecdotes about how you may have handled a similar situation after having children.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (64 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is it time to let this friendship go?

This isn't a friendship. You don't like her. You frame it as being about having a new baby but you didn't like her before you had your baby. People grow apart. It's ok to move on. Just be kind.

Will I regret it? Will there come a time that I'm really missing adult time and wish I had her?

If so, then find new friends whose company you enjoy and with whom you have things in common.

You don't need to be around people who bring you down, and she doesn't need to be around people who really don't like her.
posted by headnsouth at 9:13 AM on April 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


Let the friendship go. Honestly, I wouldn't want YOU as a friend. You sound like you resent her for having differing opinions and being sometimes self-absorbed when you are 100% self-absorbed and expect her to tell you only what you want to hear and be available only when you want her to available. Which is fine, so be it, that's the choice you've made. But I mean, ICK, I'd be quick to dump you as a friend if I were her. But it might benefit you to remember that some day when your husband and child don't need you as much as you need them, you might want to have a friend.
posted by greta simone at 9:14 AM on April 23, 2013 [122 favorites]


It's one thing if you have a good friend who you don't have time for with a new baby. This isn't a good friend. You won't regret letting her go, I think quite the opposite - let her go as soon as you can so that she can't hurt you anymore.

I think it's a good idea for you to go meet some other new moms and make new friends who will be better listeners and better with sympathy when you are having a hard time. Your experiences with your not-so-good longtime friend may have caused you to forget that it is really nice to have a true friend outside your little family. New moms need a lot of support.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:17 AM on April 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


Sometimes two people just don't click. It doesn't make you a bad friend or her a bad friend or either of you a bad person. You just aren't good together.

Let her fall away while you take care of your child and yourself, and be open to letting yourself form new friendships organically.
posted by payoto at 9:17 AM on April 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


You don't seem like you really like this woman at all, and you both deserve better than faking a friendship that will only lead to anger and resentment.

The comment she made about your baby was unnecessary, yes. But you also cannot expect anyone to love your baby the way you love your baby. And she had literally never met that baby - it was just an abstract concept to her. Of course she would be more worried about you, one of her oldest friends, than the idea of a baby she hasn't even seen.
posted by fireandthud at 9:19 AM on April 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


This sucks, but in my experience, it's totally normal. Having a kid is a huge change and it can affect every part of your life.

I think it's time to let the friendship go. It doesn't sound like you like each other any more. Regretting it is definitely a possibility, though. I lost a lot of friends when I had my daughter, which was surprising and made me sad. One friend I dumped while I was pregnant, because she was just awful to me and it made me realize that she'd always been kind of toxic, but I'd never seen it before. I haven't talked to her since (10 years) and I don't regret it at all. It was a good decision. Another friend dumped me, explicitly saying she couldn't handle having to deal with a baby all the time. That one hurt, a lot, but eventually I got over that, too.

With other close friends, things were different. For a long time I felt like my friends abandoned me, because I never saw them any more, I couldn't go out at night and do the things they were doing and I felt really lonely. Especially those first two years. With the benefit of hindsight, however, I can see that they probably also felt like I had abandoned them, because they never saw me anymore and I couldn't go out at night and do the things they were doing, you know? The good news is, I'm still friends with all those people. My kid got older, I hired babysitters and got out more, and then--and this was the big change--they started having kids and suddenly they got it.

This woman, though? I don't think you will regret letting her go. You will have lots of opportunity to meet new people with kids, and there's going to be someone in there that you'll really like.
posted by looli at 9:23 AM on April 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think you would be doing this woman a favor if you friend dumped her. You aren't being very charitable of her position at all. Maybe you should try to make some Mom friends, who will have more in common with you?
posted by SkylitDrawl at 9:24 AM on April 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


If you're going to be offended by anyone who has an opinion different from yours on your baby and family life, you're going to have a very limited pool of potential friends anyway.

Are you sure you aren't self-sabotaging by convincing yourself you don't need a life outside your family? I would rethink it as the baby gets older. In any case, it sounds to me like you just don't want to talk to this particular person. So, don't.
posted by daisystomper at 9:24 AM on April 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


There are two things here. One: You don't like her and don't want to be friends with her any longer -- then don't. Two: My world is our little family. It is all I need. This is true now, but may not be forever, especially as your child gets older -- so be open to new friendships in the future that do make you happy.
posted by Lescha at 9:25 AM on April 23, 2013 [33 favorites]


You might want to try looking at this from a different perspective - rather than what do I do about the friendship, try what do I need now.

The reason for this is that, in my experience, lasting friendships will weather time apart, personality divergences, huge life changes - but not always without a bit of drama around the time that change happens.

So rather than writing off your friendship with her, why not concentrate on what you need right now which is, by the sound of it, time and space for just you and your family. You can tell her that if you like, but do it in a kind way because it sounds like she's struggling at the moment, from the way you describe her behaviour.

Then - who knows? Maybe she has some growing up to do, and in a while when you are craving company again she will have come to be the friend you need. Maybe you guys drift apart. You can get in touch or not, as you wish, and if the friendship has weathered time, she will still be there for you.
posted by greenish at 9:25 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


You already let this friendship go. You're just doing it in a half-assed way that is cruel because it makes everyone feel bad (you resent her, she resents you). I really doubt that once the new-baby energy suck passes that you'll keep thinking you only need your family; I don't really think that's healthy, but I understand that's where you are right now. Can you just tell her that you're not really emotionally capable of hanging with friends right now? It doesn't mean you'll be able to recover things later, but it is actually less damaging than the slow cold death you're creating now.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 9:26 AM on April 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


A friendship is not a legal contract, and you don't "owe" this woman your friendship. You have grown in very different directions (you "up", her apparently not). She doesn't sound like someone who brings any benefit to you in terms of learning, growing, enjoying, etc. (in fact she sounds like a real drag - who needs all that negative stuff!). You will find as your baby grows, there will be tons of opportunities for you (and your husband) to make friends with other parents who may share more in common with you at this stage of your life (and whom you may also like better than this negative friend in general). Do yourself and your family a favor and be rid of this person who gives you nothing but bad feelings.
posted by Dansaman at 9:29 AM on April 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Full disclosure: I don't have kids, but one of my closest friends has two kids. I'm not married, but I have married friends.

Your friend sounds like she puts her foot in her mouth a lot, but it doesn't sound like she was trying to hurt you. It sounds like she was genuinely, clumsily concerned about your well-being. Did you let her know in the moment that you were bothered by her comments? Or did you seethe in silence and hold onto her (fairly innocuous) comments as evidence that she's a bad person?

You sound like a lot of people I know who get married and/or have kids and suddenly "outgrow" their friends. As if a switch flipped at the altar/with an engagement ring and they are now so much better than the rest of us unmarried losers. I agree with Greta Simone - you sound incredibly self-absorbed and more interested in your new role as mother and housewife than in being a person. Having a baby and a husband doesn't make you a real grown-up. Being a self-aware, self-actualized and well-developed person makes you a grown-up - is that you?

Your baby is your whole world and takes up every living moment right now, but your baby won't be a baby forever. And you will need a break from the baby every now and then. Leave the baby with your husband or - gasp! - a babysitter. It will be good for you. Really. Leaving your baby for an afternoon, when you're ready for it, doesn't make you a bad mom. It will make you a better mom.

That having been said, it doesn't sound like you and your friend have much in common. So let the friendship go, and try to make friends with new mothers. Or people that you meet at the gym. Or wherever. But she's already your only friend, so maybe you have a hard time making friends. It's hard as an adult, but friends are important.

You don't have to make the friendship ending a big thing, by the way. Unless you're a drama llama.

But please, examine your "I am a mommy and that is all" attitude. People are people. Some have kids. Some don't.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:29 AM on April 23, 2013 [42 favorites]


Did you let your only friend slip away after you had kids and later regret it?

My world is our little family. It is all I need.

Is this, literally, the only friend you have? If so, you should try to make other friends. When you have at least a few other people to whom you can talk, confide in, hang out with, shoot the shit, whatever, not talking to someone you don't want to talk to won't feel as potentially isolating as it does now. If your family was all you needed, socially, this wouldn't be a problem. It would just be a story about a friend you had once. That doesn't seem to be the case.

Don't hang out with a person and resent them because you don't really like them but there's no one else - stop hanging out with them and find someone else.
posted by griphus at 9:29 AM on April 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


If you were my friend, I would have dumped you long before this.

Your friend is trying, in an incredibly bumbling way, to continue to be a part of your life. She may have been very clumsy in her efforts, and she's hurt your feelings, but a true friend would explain this to her and give her the benefit of the doubt.

You're stringing her along and if the only reason you don't want to break up with her is because you might want her for something later...sheesh, that's selfish.

Clearly you don't see how she fits into your life now. Now that you're married and now that you have a baby. I will point out that many new moms are deseprate for other folks to come help them, or just to have an adult conversation. You're not that kind of new mom. You want to be in "Me and Baby" world all by yourself. Which is fine, but ultimately I think you'll find it unfulfilling.

It seems that you've had a rough time with pregnancy and birth, and I sympathize, but the world continued to revolve in this time. Your friend has news. Your friend has things going on in her life and as pleased as she may be for you and your husband and your new baby, sometimes people don't want to talk only about you and your family.

Since she keeps reaching out, the kind thing to do is to let her know that you no longer feel like you want to be in the friendship.

"Dear Sue,

I know that you've become increasingly frustrated with our relationship, as I have. We seem to be on different paths in life. While I treasure the friendship we shared in the past, I don't think that it benefits us to continue on, when we're so clearly going in such different directions.

Have a nice life,

Anon
"

You say this is your only friend. That seems indicative of how insulated you seem to be. You may regret this tack later, when your child is off with his/her friends, your husband is off to work, and you're alone in the house...and have no one to talk to.

Sure, your family may consume you now, but you're more than a mother and a wife are you not?

I suspect that you'll rue the day you were so profligate with this woman's friendship, but she'll move on and have many more friends who love and enjoy her. And to me, that would be the happy ending here.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:30 AM on April 23, 2013 [25 favorites]


I think you've been straightforward with her and she hasn't paid attention. I doubt that you will regret letting this friendship die. However, on the very slim chance that you do regret it, you can very likely pick it back up. Babies and children consume all your energy, and she's not willing to hear that. It's a pretty typical situation. Be matter-of-fact, and tell her you don't have the time or energy for phone calls and visits, and even texts and email will be terribly limited because your life has changed so very much.
posted by theora55 at 9:30 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had a best friend in high school and college. I got married young, dropped out of college and had a baby. I am terrified of dogs and don't get along well with animals. She stayed in college and was training to become a vetrinarian. Her house was filled with multiple dogs, fish, a turtle, the squirrel she was nursing back to health, yadda. But we really were good friends for some years even after I left school. I even managed to visit with her for a few days when I was living in Germany and she was there for a month or whatever visiting relatives.

Our different life choices did ultimately prove to be too much and we lost touch. I don't regret it. She used to say she wanted four kids but the life choices she was making were all about her career and she rarely even had a boyfriend. For that and other reasons, I felt she was pretty delusional about some things. She perhaps had similar unflattering opinions of me given my mommy-track life. No one needs to be "best friends" with someone they no longer really respect. And, no, neither of us really had time for a long distance friendship that really did not fit with our lives. The cost-benefit ratio just stopped making sense. It quietly died of neglect without any drama.
posted by Michele in California at 9:32 AM on April 23, 2013


There's a lot going on in this post. As far as the friend: let her go, you don't like her, you feel you have nothing in common.

Having no friends after baby? That's a massive mistake. Everyone needs friends outside of their spouse. And being a SAHM, specifically, can be a very lonely proposition as you have no other grown-ups to talk to all day. If all you want to do is talk about your baby, then I agree with the suggestions above to join a moms' group.
posted by amro at 9:33 AM on April 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am very quick to dump friends who make it clear they can only care about their newborn children. Adios, goodbye.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:40 AM on April 23, 2013 [32 favorites]


I'm on the other side of your scenario: my best friend got married and had a baby. All of a sudden, her world shrank to the size of a peanut and I was left outside. I tried to keep in touch with her, but I wasn't a priority. I felt like I was being shut out. I was sad and upset...mostly sad. The relationship sort of petered out. I got a new job, moved away, and moved on. Still missed her, though.

A couple of years went by. A few months ago I contacted her out of nowhere to see how she was doing. She wrote back, and now we're back in contact. It won't be like the crazy post-college days again, but we both missed our friendship. Her world is bigger now and I'm a bit less demanding of "the way we used to be". Taking time off to grow up in our different ways turned out to be a really good thing.

You obviously have a tiny, tiny world right now. I'd suggest taking a break, but not writing her off. Who knows? In a couple years your world may get bigger and you'll want her in it. She may be game for rekindling the friendship.

Also: it seems like all of this demonizing of her (she calls me instead of texting, I'm pretty sure she was high, she has a "tone" and is "pissed" when we talk) is a way for you to not feel bad about the prospect of writing her off. You're looking for reasons why it's HER fault. Well, as others have said above - you're not being a real peach either.
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:42 AM on April 23, 2013 [24 favorites]


I think you're getting pretty good, and pretty consistent, advice, which is: This particular friendship seems to have run its course, and you don't seem to like her, so letting this particular friendship go seems like the thing to do.

But wow, I think some of what you've said here betrays an attitude I think you will regret -- maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, etc. etc. Everybody needs friends. Everybody needs support. Things happen. Deciding that you now have nothing to talk about except your baby sells yourself short, and deciding that it's her fault that she doesn't want to talk about your baby all the time sells her short. There is still a you, and you call her your "only friend," and it really concerns me that if you let yourself retreat into this home-baby-husband "world," you will wind up unhappy.

Again, this situation sounds like it's run its course, but if you decide to end this friendship, please remain open to meeting other people, to making other friends, and to getting outside that bubble. My experience with my baby-having friends is that after a certain period of time, they discover that it's critically important to still have a self that isn't only about those things. Your little family is your whole world right now, and that's totally okay. But please, please don't decide now that for the rest of your life, it's just the three of you. That, I think you will regret.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:47 AM on April 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you recently had a baby, there is a not-insignificant chance you might not be thinking straight, between the sleep deprivation and the hormones.*

Holding off on any major life decisions for a while and letting some clarity come back would probably be a good idea.


*This is not to disparage those who recently had a baby and are thinking clear-eyed, orderly thoughts. I did not have clear-eyed, orderly thoughts after having a baby, myself, but didn't really know that until much later.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 9:53 AM on April 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sometimes people grow apart. I think this is one of those times. Before I go on, I will also say that I think this is not a situation of an angel and a demon. You and your friend are both mishandling things. Frankly, I think you both like drama and the emotional roller coaster. Otherwise, you both wouldn't be feeding it like this.

I think the comments saying that you are being mean to your friend for not liking your baby as much as you are uncharitable. I am the father of two young children with a wife who stays home as you do. I can tell you that while I have a few friends that do not have children in my social circle, they are rare. Luckily, while they may not have children of their own, I have never heard comments from them about how mine and my wife's lives are somehow less fulfilling. By the same token, I don't presume to tell my unmarried or childless friends that rearing a human being who will live forever is more fulfilling than being head of HR. I answer the question of "you're more than a mother and a wife are you not?" by saying yes, what I am is a father and a husband - it is ontological. Everything else is incidental and merely something that I do. That doesn't mean the rest of the world can burn, though.

Please forgive me, but while I know comments to the effect of, "whoa, this makes me glad I don't have/want kids!" are common, I think they are pretty vile. I am sure someone can tell me how it is different than wisecracking, "that's why I am glad I'm not [black/gay/whatever you are]", but I don't think so.

I cannot imagine that you are so distasteful a person that this is the only friend you will ever had. You are not the only person with your interests. As your child grows, you will meet other parents. Everyone of my wife's friends is a married parent, and so are just about all of my friends. It's normal for our friends to be in similar stations to us - I think a lot of comments have lost sight of how insular our social bubbles can be. There are certain friends for certain times. Maybe College Friend is not Married With Children Friend. Maybe she is. In either event, you two need to fish or cut bait.

On preview, I largely agree with Elly Vortex and Linda_Holmes, too.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:54 AM on April 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


Some people go off in different directions and meet different fates. Personality quirks that were easier to tolerate when you were younger might be impossible to deal with later on (interminably long phone calls, hanging out at your place while high, etc.) as you get older.
My world is our little family. It is all I need.
But this jumps out at me. Not only is it not true and self-absorbed (and keep in mind that your main critique of your old friends seems to be that she's self absorbed), but it is simply not acting as a good role model for your child. A child needs to see that an adult has friends and family and a social life and knows how to form friendships-- friendships that she does not end up venting about back to the rest of her family. The baby probably also needs an environment where the baby interacts with people outside the baby's "little family."
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 9:58 AM on April 23, 2013 [35 favorites]


I think major life changes can be a convenient time to dump friendships that don't work anymore. I don't have kids, but I have stayed friends with friends who have kids and I have "broken up" with friends when they had kids. It had nothing to do with the kids. It had a lot to do with the friendship.

But I think you are going to need SOME kind of friends. Probably soon. So dial it back with this friend, but please do try to get to know some new people, etc. (My parents, especially my mother, did not have close friends when I was growing up, and I think that is a big part of why I have had trouble establishing/maintaining adult friendships - I never saw it modeled.)
posted by mskyle at 10:00 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please forgive me, but while I know comments to the effect of, "whoa, this makes me glad I don't have/want kids!" are common, I think they are pretty vile. I am sure someone can tell me how it is different than wisecracking, "that's why I am glad I'm not [black/gay/whatever you are]", but I don't think so.

I think they are different, but regardless, if a good friend says something that upsets you, the mature thing is to call them out on it and have a discussion about why you were offended. I would only suffer in silence and then ignore forever if the person was just a casual acquaintance. Friends deserve chances to apologize and know why they fucked up.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 10:02 AM on April 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


As someone whose mom did decide that her kids could be her whole world, I don't know if you'll regret cutting your life down to only immediate family... but your baby sure as hell will.

There was a very strange dynamic when I moved out where my mom was looking around and realizing just how empty that nest was, and some emotional weirdness where I felt like I was having to break up with her to start my own life. Have you thought about what is going to happen when your baby is an adult? I wish my mom had.

(Not that staying friends with this woman is a solution, but having adult friends in general, and a life outside babies and home, is going to be really essential when there are no babies.)
posted by Dynex at 10:07 AM on April 23, 2013 [23 favorites]


So your friend is self-absorbed not because she isn't talking about your baby - she is talking about your baby, and only about your baby, because that's the only topic of interest to you.

The problem is that she isn't talking about it in the way you want her to.

I find it hard to trust you as a narrator when you say "she only talked about the miscarriage in terms of how it would affect her life". But maybe this is exactly as you reported it and she was tactless there. Well, friends say tactless things all the time. I can't think of anybody I know who has never once put their foot in their mouth around me. It's only if they are consistently, grossly tactless that I reevaluate the friendship.

It doesn't sound like your friend has been consistently, grossly tactless; it sounds like she's trying to go to great lengths to support you, but you'll never be able to appreciate it, because she's not your baby and your baby is the only person on the planet that you'll ever value again, as long as you live.

She's being really patient with you, but you're not worth it.

Just stop returning her calls. It's kinder than telling her directly to go screw. Maybe, if she's as patient and willing to extend herself as you say, you'll be able to turn to her later in life when your youngest child goes to school, or perhaps college, and you feel the need for some adult companionship. And it's kinder than subjecting her to years of disdainful treatment in the meantime.
posted by tel3path at 10:09 AM on April 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


I moved away (out of state) from my best friend more than a decade ago, but we still communicate regularly via email, text, facebook and phone. A little more than two years ago she and her partner had a lovely little boy and I knew that it would mean that our communication would be even less frequent. I made a concerted effort to change to more passive communication for most of the time, but I made specific trips to be there with her and her family and as it turned out I was a big help on several really stressful occasions like his first birthday party. What neither of us knew was that she just needed someone around her, who wasn't her equally stressed out partner, who she could not only rely on but silently communicate with.

People need friends. Especially when there are kids involved. The need just morphs over time.

Right now, you're being a bit self-absorbed. Your friend hasn't adjusted or realized there needs to be an adjustment. If you full on shut her down you may well regret it later - but if you don't get your head out of your ass about what you're doing she'd be an idiot not to friend dump you.
posted by FlamingBore at 10:09 AM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, you have a right for your family to be your whole world right now if you want it to be ("Let's see...do I want to spend time with my dope-smoking loser friend or with my baby? Hard choice."). To you that's not a tiny world, that's a huge world. If people who don't have a baby don't understand how time consuming, exhausting, and joyful it is for you to have a baby, or if they don't understand the way you want to go about parenting, then all that means is your lives have, at least temporarily, moved in different directions and that's OK (there's no right or wrong, you are just in different places or have different points of view). Find friends who have babies - you'll be happy interacting with people who know, understand, and are currently experiencing the same things you are. Or if you don't feel a need to have friends right now, then just don't. There's no law that you have to have friends, and you are not a lesser person for not having friends. And good for you for being a devoted mom in the way you feel comfortable doing that.
posted by Dansaman at 10:10 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wouldn't cling on to this friend just because she's your only friend, as it seems you don't like her very much and you've grown apart. But I highly recommend you make an effort to make new friends instead. A mother and baby group might be perfect for you.
posted by hazyjane at 10:30 AM on April 23, 2013


If you don't want to be her friend anymore, don't be her friend anymore. You're entitled to do that. But you seem to think that if you don't want to be her friend anymore, it has to be because it's her fault for being so immature or insensitive or depressing or whatever. From an outside perspective, it sounds to me as though you're being equally immature and insensitive and depressing, dismissing anything she wants to talk about in her life as less important than your life, while insisting that she react exactly the way you want her to when you want to vent about bad things that have happened to you. I mean, your myopic focus on your baby and your belief that nothing else in the world matters is understandable because that's all you're doing right now, but it's also self-centered. Your statements that her problems are "depressing," but that she's insensitive and selfish for talking about her problems are, again, understandable in light of the big changes in your life, but self-centered.

Bottom line: if you don't want to be her friend, don't be her friend. But it's not really fair, nor is it helpful to your emotional growth as a person (especially as a person who is now responsible for guiding the emotional growth of another person) to paint it as a black-and-white, "I am right and she is wrong," "I am selfless and she is selfish," situation. That is neither mature nor fair. And it's not going to be good for your baby as s/he is learning how to deal with other people to have you set the example that when we are feeling hurt, it is someone else's fault and that person deserves to be made a villain.
posted by decathecting at 10:32 AM on April 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have grown apart from my best friend since preschool, so I do have some sympathy for your situation. My friend became increasingly difficult to deal with until I had to just cease interacting with her. Telling her the friendship was over would have just spurred more drama - although she wasn't the one constantly trying to make overtures of friendship towards me, so in your case it might be different.

I do want to say though, that from my experience with my friend, it helped me to try to forgive her, not for her sake, but for my own. I was carrying around a lot of anger towards her, and it expended continuous emotional energy that I didn't even realize I was expending until I had gotten past it.

Try to look at the situation from your friend's point of view. You are ditching her. You don't call, you only want to text - but yet she is trying so hard to continue to be friends with you, despite getting rejected at every turn. She must really value her relationship with you. As a person who doesn't plan to have children, she may have great difficulty understanding what your baby means to you, but she wants you to understand that baby or not, you are important to her. She did a lot of research on your medical condition and wanted to tell you about it to show you she cared. Instead of appreciating this gesture, you were angry with her for not being tactful about your child.

Although I haven't been through the grief of a miscarriage, I know that a lot of people who have not do not understand what a loss it is to the mother who experiences it. Hence many unthinking comments, like "well, at least you know you can get pregnant" or "maybe it's for the best, something was probably wrong with the baby" etc. etc. So your friend may have said something like "I am lonely since you had the miscarriage, you never want to come and hang out with me anymore." - yes, it's about her feelings, but it is not a cruel statement. These are teaching moments, and if you wanted to keep her as a friend, you could say something to explain to her your feelings - "I know I haven't wanted to go out at all lately, but losing my baby has left a hole in my heart. I am grieving." No, you aren't obligated to try to make her understand what your position is like, if she is being obtuse about it, maybe the effort isn't worthwhile. But there is no reason for you to carry anger over interactions like these.

Finally, I wonder... could there be difficult things going on in her life, things that are causing her to want your support so desperately, or to turn to drugs to self medicate? It doesn't sound like you know... maybe give her the benefit of the doubt.

Again, you don't have to be friends with her, but trying to see the positive side of where she is coming from in these situations, or at least the more sympathetic side, could be good for you. In regard to my situation with my own longtime friend, a wise MeFite here said something that really resonated with me. To roughly paraphrase, it was to the effect that if something is continually bothering and angering you about another person, it could be enlightening to consider what it is about YOU that the intrusive thoughts are indicating - it may mean that you have an unresolved issue or unresolved feelings that those thoughts are calling your attention to. Looking at that possibility about your anger towards your friend might be the way to avoid future upset and regret.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:36 AM on April 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


Is it time to let this friendship go? Will I regret it? Will there come a time that I'm really missing adult time and wish I had her?

Emphatic yes to all three of those questions.

It is very easy to become totally self-absorbed during the newborn phase, because it is a tremendous amount of work and very time-consuming and there isn't a lot of energy left over for other things. And it's very easy to lose touch with people who aren't in the same situation as you, and to become judgmental about them not understanding it.

But in less time than you think, baby isn't going to be so all-consuming anymore and you're going to have to build a life that isn't structured around diapers and developmental milestones. I absolutely guarantee that "My world is our little family. It is all I need." is not going to be true forever, or even for more than a couple of years.

Ours is four now, and I'm still trying to reconnect with some of the friends I drifted away from during the first year or so (and in my case it was just inattention, not the resentment and anger on both sides you've clearly built up here; you'll have a lot more rebuilding to do than I did.)

I'm pretty sure the first of those three questions is moot: you have already blown this friendship. But, yes, I expect in a year or two you will regret having so firmly pushed her away.
posted by ook at 10:45 AM on April 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm so glad that my mom didn't feel the way you do. I would never have had the experience of growing up around a strong group of friends, which is such an important part of being a successful, social adult. Her friends (some single, some with children) also helped me see that my (sometimes dysfunctional) family was not the ONLY family.

Good luck with that little world you're planning for yourself, husband and baby. It sounds pretty lonely, and god forbid something changes in it....
posted by cyndigo at 10:59 AM on April 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


My best friend from childhood and I are like this. We don't have a ton in common in terms of worldview beyond the fact that we have an almost familial similarity in the way we act. There were periods of time when she would get needy and I would brush her off. She's blunt and a little tactless, so she will occasionally say things that really hurt. She's kind of a downer to be around sometimes. That used to bother me a lot when I didn't have a ton of confidence in my weird little projects, so I avoided her.

When the partner who was my whole world left me, do you know who forced me to eat and walk around and act like a person when all I wanted to do was die because I thought I had nothing left? My best friend. She didn't leave my apartment for two days. Even though I'd mostly ignored her up until then and resented her in the way that you're resenting your friend now. After I got a little better she followed up and made sure I had people to be with and things to do. I didn't deserve it. She did it because she was my friend. At this point, she could spend all her time making fun of my hobbies and I would still help her through anything she is going through. She might not always say the right things but she always does the right things.

Friend dump her if you want, but this woman seems to really care about you. There aren't a lot of people out there who will go out of their way to research your health issues and advocate for your quality of life. She might be framing it in terms of what she wants, but she's really looking out for you here. Also, you might want to look into the fact that you never seem to tell her about the things she does that hurt you or offend you. This makes me really question the idea that she actually has any idea of how important anything is to you. Are you sure she's trying to offend you or deliberately stepping on your toes? I think she's probably a little tone-deaf and you're a little too subtle in the way you communicate.

Also, my mother was a stay at home mom whose life revolved around her family and housework. When we got older and she realized she was alone and had no friends, do you know who she leaned on to talk about her problems? Her children. My dad was too busy to listen to her, so we got to play therapist until we escaped the house. There were times when I desperately needed a parent and guidance and found myself parenting her instead. I wish she had looked out for her own life instead of absorbing herself in ours, because we grew up to have our own lives and needed to be able to feel like she'd be okay without us.
posted by rhythm and booze at 11:01 AM on April 23, 2013 [38 favorites]


You had a miscarriage and got pregnant again in the span of a year. That is a lot of personal trauma and life change to process in a short amount of time. I hate to be the standard mefi, but you really sound like someone who would benefit from therapy.

Your friend keeps trying to check in on you, despite you being a broken record of "The baby, the baby, the baby." I have a feeling at least some of her frustration is that she's really worried about you.

If you don't want her in your life, then let her go.

But:

I don't think your child will do well with a mother who has isolated herself from the world and sits around bitter and self absorbed. Remember that your kid is going to learn how to be social by your cues.....and you're really not bringing much to the table at this point.
posted by haplesschild at 11:06 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


The reason I felt the need to chime in is because at some point you are going to want to socialize again, and you really should develop the kinds of social skills that allow you to choose your friends wisely. It also might be useful to stay in touch with your old friends and rekindle those friendships sooner rather than later.

See, the thing is that my mom basically dropped her old friends. She had very good reasons for this (in her mind) -- the demanding careers of both hers and my father's that sent them back and forth across the country, two very difficult young boys to raise, a husband whose family was demanding in terms of social time, etc. But what became clear as I got older was that she didn't value her old friendships from college very much and exchanged those friendships for socializing with "whomever was nearby"-- these people turned out to be people who really didn't mesh well with her personality, and she would then in turn vent about them behind her back to us, her children. She didn't place a priority on developing and maintaining valuable friendships, and so she didn't get that.

As she's gotten older she's rekindled those friendships, and what made me sad was the realization that my mom's life and our family's lives would have been richer if she had maintained a vibrant social life full of friends she valued and got along with for more of her life, if only because it would have exposed me to more normal social interactions growing up rather than all of the various frenemies my mom seems to have collected via community social circles because they were convenient and close by. Plus, I would have seen a model for developing the kinds of skills necessary to choose friends (and significant others) more wisely.

Look, people grow apart. One of my best friends, who is still my best friend, grew up into a place that I don't really relate to in certain ways. But I'm not going to decide that I don't have time for him simply because my priorities might tilt towards a wife and children in the future. I'm not going to pull the "I've outgrown them and come to a different place in life" card because, honestly, I haven't, and it's important to maintain these kinds of relationships.
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 11:11 AM on April 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Friendships change and evolve as people do. More often than not, friends grow apart and it's just a part of life. It doesn't have to mean that anyone was "bad," but it can feel like it when one friend starts rubbing the other the wrong way because they've lost the common ground and understanding that they used to share. This may or may not have been the case with your friendship. It does sound like your friend may be lacking in some social graces, and really hurt you with her insensitivity about your miscarriage. After that, I can see how everything else she said about your pregnancy and baby would be negatively colored. If you're truly fed up and don't want her in your life anymore, that's fine. I'm a firm believer that no one owes anybody else a friendship. Even when someone's trying really, really hard to be a friend, that doesn't mean they're good for you.

The fact that she's your only friend is another issue. You shouldn't "keep" her just because there isn't anyone else, but it's worrying that you don't see any benefit to having other friends. It may seem noble to pour every ounce of yourself into taking care of your family, but you're actually doing them a disservice by cutting yourself off from the rest of the world. I totally agree with the above comments that it's unhealthy to rely on your spouse and child to satisfy all your emotional and social needs, and it's important for your child's development that you model healthy social behaviors, interactions, and relationships - this includes showing your child what a good network of friendships looks like, and how to maintain healthy friendships through hard times, busy times, and good times.

In summary, feel free to drop this friend but know that it's to your family's detriment to carry on like this: "My world is our little family. It is all I need." You need to have friends. Your child and spouse need you to have friends. If you don't like this friend, find better friends that you do like.
posted by keep it under cover at 11:37 AM on April 23, 2013


Mod note: A couple comments removed. Folks, you need to take it easy in here; direct, constructive criticism is fine, telling someone you think they're a jerk is not so great. Please focus on being helpful.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:41 AM on April 23, 2013


I can't speak about this particular friend, but it's not a good idea to jettison your adult friendships in general, just because they may not be speaking your particular language right now. When you return to the workplace (and you will, because your "world" will have driven you up the wall in no time,) your ability to relate to, and hold adult conversations will have atrophied.

Keep those skills sharp; not only for the workplace, but for your interestingness as a human being in general.
posted by BostonTerrier at 11:42 AM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm a little surprised at the extreme criticism here.

Some of your nesting / hiding urge might be coming from feeling like you've got all this responsibility and stress on your shoulders, and you just cannot deal with one more expectation. In this case, you can't really jettison your job, baby, husband or daily needs, so it becomes easier to put that 'get outta here!' emotions on someone else. Is that a possibility at all?

Have you tried having a heart to heart with her? Tell her that things aren't the same as they used to be, you are having a really hard time dealing with all the expectations and stress in your life, and can't be a great friend at the moment. And then suggest something you WANT to do with her: come over and watch a movie with pizza? Keep you company as you fold laundry?

I have the feeling that you're feeling really overburdened right now, and have started to shut out others in an attempt to deal with it, but it's only going to make things worse.
posted by barnone at 11:59 AM on April 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


I recently had a baby and now have absolutely no desire to speak to her, because baby is my whole world and takes up every waking moment of my time

This isn't only unhealthy for you, but as your kid gets older, it's not great for him to be the centerpoint of your whole world. That's a tremendous amount of pressure to put on one little person.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:02 PM on April 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, I think people are being seriously overly harsh.

If you've recently had a baby, sorry childless people, but the new baby -like it or not- IS your entire world.
Changing, feeding, walking around bouncing the thing so that it stops screaming for a half a second is more than a full time job and is a stress that you can't even begin to imagine.
My god, even getting to shower is a damn luxury if you haven't a support system other than hubby.
And personally, nothing defeated me more mentally than FINALLY getting a colicky baby down for a nap, arms aching, emotionally spent, only to have it woken again by the ringer.
The bonding between new child and father/mother as a family unit? Incredibly important.

A friend coming over high to see the new baby? Are you kidding me guys? That is NOT ok at ALL!

With that being said, I think its entirely appropriate to drift away from friends in a babies first year of life, and if they don't care enough to give you some space and understanding and throw a bunch of ME ME ME tantrums your way, then F-em. Adjusting to being a first time parent is HUGE change and your friends should support that, not hinder it.

Look into some playgroups. Make some new friends with kids that understand that partying doesnt mesh with parenting and who would be totally down with emailing rather than calling... or who would be excited to meet up every week or two for a daytime coffee rather than razzing you to come out for a late night drink session every Friday night.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 12:22 PM on April 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I understand. You're not getting anything out of this friendship anymore. It just feels draining whenever you talk. You resent her for it.
I think it will be difficult for you to cut her off, but you won't regret having done it.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


or who would be excited to meet up every week or two for a daytime coffee rather than razzing you to come out for a late night drink session every Friday night.

Yo, tenaciousmoon, I appreciate your insight into being a new parent - I really do - but I'm pretty sure the OP's friend would be delighted with a phone call, never mind coffee. I doubt she's asking for wild Friday nights. (If I'm wrong, OP, lemme know).

I think it's this kind of "You want me to go partying with you?!? UGH!" response from new parents to totally innocuous requests to, like, go out for lunch that has raised a lot of the ire in this thread. Having contempt for your friends - or anyone, really - is not so great.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:41 PM on April 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think it is fine that baby is your whole world right now. Some baby's need more than others. Sitting here at our computers, none of us is in a position to tell how much time THIS baby genuinely needs. But as others are suggesting, yes, please plan on getting a bigger world than that at some point when baby is older.

I did the full-time mom thing for nearly two decades. Women I have known who needed their kids more than the kids needed them, especially as the kids hit adulthood, have done some extremely unhealthy things because of that. When women used to have 8 or 10 kids pretty routinely and didn't necessarily live all that long, you could realistically just be a mom and wife your whole life. These days, with life expectancy up in the 70's and average family size in the U.S. below 2 children, that isn't a realistic way to arrange your life. You will be an adult for 50+ years and probably not spend over 20 years realistically able to pour all your time and energy into the one or two children you are statistically likely to have. That leaves at least 30 years in which you really need to find another way to occupy your time.

When my kids were both under 8 years old, I read some book by the guy that wrote "Flow". They studied the psychological relationship people have to time. They had people do a timeline of their lives. Women were extremely prone to filling their imagined future with nothing but endings, often involving immediate relatives (instead of themselves), such as "kids will graduate high school, hubby wil retire, one by one everyone dies." Men were much more likely to imagine a future where endings were followed by new beginnings, such as "I will retire -- and finally buy that boat I have always wanted and spend all my time fishing!" The timelines where the future was perceived as nothing but endings were correlated with depression.

I read that and thought about the women I knew who needed their kids more than the kids needed them, who, in some cases, had done things I viewed as really bad rather than just neurotic. I decided to start planning my post-empty-nest future life right then and there so that when my kids grew up I would be happily busy going to college, launching a career and pursuing hobbies I never had time for while they were little instead of bellyaching about my personal loss over them growing up like I knew they would all along. I recommend you plan on making similar plans at some point in order to not turn into someone with a really unhealthy relationship to your child. For now, it is fine to focus on baby. But that won't always be a healthy thing to be consumed with.
posted by Michele in California at 12:55 PM on April 23, 2013 [19 favorites]


I've had my best friend since we were thirteen years old, 45 years now. We were so close during high school and college years, but when the kids came along the friendship fell apart. We had very different ideas about raising our kids and lived 300 miles apart. During those fifteen years, we had very sporadic contact, maybe a card at Christmas and a phone call once a year, if that. The few times we did see each other weren't fun. We had grown apart, had nothing in common, and didn't respect each other's choices. BUT, after those fifteen years, I made a phone call on New Years Day and we rekindled our relationship. Ten years later we are best friends again, talk every week, and travel to see each other three or four times a year. My point is, you don't have to END the friendship because you're too busy or your priorities have changed or whatever other reason. You can put it on hold for a while, and maybe later in life it will come back to you. You could just tell her. "I'm a terrible friend right now and I'm sorry. But I have to do this my own way and for me, that's focusing on my little family for a while. I know it sucks for you, and again, I'm sorry, but it's where I need to be right now."
posted by raisingsand at 1:00 PM on April 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't get most of the other answers in this thread.

If someone dropped a comment to me AFTER I LOST A PREGNANCY that my miscarriage made them realize they did not ever want children themselves, I would be flabbergasted. OP, that's a selfish and unhelpful "take-away" for your friend to have shared with you in the midst of your grief. It really seems like your friend has baggage, which is not your fault.

After a successful pregnancy, she then shows up HIGH to visit with me and hold my new infant?

OH, HELL's NO!!!!!

OP, ditch this person. You guys are not on the same page. I don't understand all of the advice you are getting saying you are at fault. Showing up high to hang our with new mom and new baby? Really? That's so many shades of wrong. Wow.

All I can think OP is that these very relevant details (along with the one about how you specifically asked friend to text and she pointedly ignored you) got lost in your narrative in the AskMe. Normally, these are DTMFA-level transgressions around here.

Anyway

Of course you are going to make other friends! You and this person have grown MILES apart.

Please back away from this person gently, and soon, and do it before this gets any worse between the two of you.

Good luck.
posted by jbenben at 1:39 PM on April 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Jbenben and the others here who said people are being overly harsh and critical got it right. People are reading into what you said. I don't see that you are being anti-social or are saying you don't need or want friends ever again, or that you will be sheltering your baby from social interaction, etc. You are simply saying 1) you need this particular dysfunctional friend like a hole in the head, and 2) right now your focus is on your baby. People are injecting way too much of their own experience into their answers and are veering far away from the original content and intent of your question. I know what it feels like to be a devoted parent and have other people criticize you for that. Don't let them get you down. You are wonderful for focusing on your baby now.
posted by Dansaman at 2:36 PM on April 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


"People are reading into what you said. I don't see that you are being anti-social or are saying you don't need or want friends ever again, or that you will be sheltering your baby from social interaction, etc. You are simply saying 1) you need this particular dysfunctional friend like a hole in the head"

The OP states it's her only friend:
"Did you let your only friend slip away after you had kids and later regret it?"
posted by Room 641-A at 2:51 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


After a successful pregnancy, she then shows up HIGH to visit with me and hold my new infant?

If the OP was part of a social circle that regularly smoked pot, I can see why someone would make this mistake. I don't smoke anymore, but I can see one of my very sweet stoner friends making this mistake and NEVER DOING IT AGAIN if someone asked them not to.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:58 PM on April 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Having friends and being a mom are not mutually exclusive. If you don't like this person, you don't have to continue dealing with her. But I think having friends will improve the quality of life for you and your child. You can reach out to her if you miss her down the road. She might not want to reconnect but that sounds like a risk that you are willing to take. I would discourage you from thinking of your decision in terms of value judgments ("I grew up, she didn't") because that can keep you from making new friends who just make different choices than you did. It is really easy for married people to fall into a pattern of only hanging out with other couples but if that's how I rolled, I would never see my two best friends who are amazing people.

One of my best friends is a single mom. After she had her daughter, we were catching up over the phone when I mentioned that I had been in a lot of pain because I had a tooth get infected and taken out. She made a comment suggesting that toothache pain is nothing compared to having had a baby pain. It rubbed me the wrong way because I don't think I had suggested that - it was just something that had gone on in my life recently that I was sharing because that's what friends do.

This same friend was kind of aloof after my mother died. It hurt because I wanted her to be there for me but she had never had someone close to her die. I think she has still never been to a funeral. And she's very close with her mom so I think part of her realized that her mom is mortal too.

This friend and I don't have a lot in common besides history but it's a rich history and we both love each other so we want to build on it. I think my husband and I, in some ways, are very different people, but we have a shared history and future and we love each other so we're making it work.

Your friend's comments remind me of my aunt. I love this aunt but a few months ago, my sister had to deliver her twins prematurely and they died. The day that my sister went to the hospital was the day of my aunt's birthday party. My aunt wasn't expecting my sister at her party but since the twins died, my aunt has asked repeatedly whether my family knew that my sister was in the hospital when they went to her birthday party. My aunt also mentioned how sad it is that the twins died when we had a baby shower for them about a week earlier.

I know my aunt is a good person and loves those babies to pieces so I'm not upset about her comments. That's just how she sees a situation - in terms of how it affects her. My sister doesn't want to talk to my aunt and I'm sure other members of our family sometimes would prefer that they were not related to my aunt but I know her and love her and she's family so we're stuck with her. You are not similarly stuck with your friend.

I'm one of four kids. My mom didn't have friends when we were growing up, though she had sisters who also had kids. When I was about 15, she started teaching at the school my sisters, brother and I had all attended and she became friends with several of the teachers. It always felt so weird to me that she didn't have friends so I was thrilled when she started spending time with them, even though it was the mean gym teacher. Before then, I kind of thought that having friends was something only kids did so to some extent, I didn't look forward to being an adult because I didn't want to lose my friends. Seeing her with friends made me happy because it showed me that adults have friends and it was just really wonderful to see her happy and having fun.

My mother in law was in a group for new moms when my husband was born. She made one of her best friends there and her son is my husband's best friend. I think you should try to find a group for new moms. It will make the world bigger for both you and your baby.
posted by kat518 at 3:16 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
Thank you all for the at times brutally honest thoughts.
My best friend is a good hearted person. She isn't a bad person at all. I am being a jerk in making her sound like a villian. However, I would like to clarify some things that I didn't make clear in my original post.

No, I am not anti-social. She is my only friend in this city. I have friends who don't live here. She is however my longest term friend.

Right now my only focus is family bonding and learning to navigate this new territory. I do feel resentment towards her because I feel as though she isn't giving me the space to do so. I would like to remain friends, but perhaps not on the BFF level. I have apologised for not being a good friend right now. It isn't that I don't like her, I just don't like her constant complaining about everything in her life every time we speak for more than 10 minutes. I don't have the energy right now to navigate that.

It isn't that I never want other friends either. I would love to make Mommy friends here. It would be great to get baby socializing! That is a great idea.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:27 PM on April 23, 2013


If the OP was part of a social circle that regularly smoked pot, I can see why someone would make this mistake. I don't smoke anymore, but I can see one of my very sweet stoner friends making this mistake and NEVER DOING IT AGAIN if someone asked them not to.

I've been thinking about the pot thing more, and maybe this is just projecting, but I see in every misstep here something that suggests that your friend is scared shitless about your motherhood. Clearly, your miscarriage rattled her. And your medical state. And oy veh, those cringe-worthy comments about not really caring about the baby but caring about you. Which might explain why she came over stoned to hold the baby--she's rattled and anxious because this child has threatened your health, and then driven a wedge between the two of you. I'd take a step back from your mama bear reaction, if you can, and just try to consider how she might feel, afraid for you (and by extension, herself!) and missing you, too. Sounds like she's in a wee bit of pain, emotionally.

If she's the kind of friend who can weather this kind of thing, I might try clearing the air, with the framework that though everything she's done is stupid and weird and alienating, it very likely comes out of a place of love for you and fear about the future of your friendship. Instead of tip-toeing around the issue of your child, you might invite her over to spend casual, low-pressure time with the two of you. It doesn't need to be all the time--in fact, I think some distance might be good. But I think that it's not beyond hope, not yet.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:43 PM on April 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


OP, after your follow-up, I have a small suggestion for you. I think you should start writing your friend letters. Actual, honest-to-god handwritten letters that you can put in the mail. Not about friendship drama, but just about things you want to talk about. This removes the phone conversation aspect that wakes the baby, and allows you (and she, if she responds) to carry on a monologue without the dialogue aspects that are currently problematic between you. And because it's a more formal method of communication you tend to remember to say, "I can't wait to hear about your work thing" and so forth.

But letters are also more personal and thoughtful than most other aspects of communication, because they're old-fashioned and take time, and I think that might be a way you can maintain and maybe even strengthen your friendship at a time when immediacy and dialogue is pushing you apart. If she writes back with all her complaining, it will be more like reading a novel and carry less emotional stress for you. It allows you to teach respond in your own time, in a more leisurely fashion.

When I was a new mom I could never manage to sync up phone conversation times with my best friend who lives far away, and I felt rotten about it (and she is not a texter or e-mailer), so I finally wrote her a letter in the style of the notes we used to pass in high school, and we've continued doing this sporadically over the last few years even though now we can talk on the phone reasonably often. It's just makes each of us feel special and cherished when we get a letter, and it helped me keep up my side of the friendship in a way that I could manage when I was struggling with a new baby.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:03 PM on April 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


I also thought the friend was reacting to the OP's motherhood with fear, and possibly jealousy.

At best, in my most charitable reading, the friend sounds ambivalent and unsupportive of the OP's new role as a mother. Sadly, it's more likely that fear, resentment, and jealousy are combining to make the friend a drag and a liability to the OP as she navigates the first year of motherhood.

OP, maybe you don't have to drop this friend forever, but sideline her while you get your feet back underneath you and adjust to motherhood.

I've (at least temporarily) dumped friends that had/have issues about my new role as a mom. I also deepened bonds with friends that were/are childless, but not clueless(!), through my son's first years.

This isn't a time to feel guilty because someone is an adult that can't handle their personal baggage when faced with the fact you are caring for your infant.

A real friend worth keeping would work that shit out far away from your friendship and new child.

About cutting this person any further slack, my opinion is: Meh. Not really worth it giving her any more chances, but it's your call, OP.
posted by jbenben at 4:18 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


She has since elaborated, but just to be clear, "Did you let your only friend slip away after you had kids and later regret it?" does not logically imply necessarily that the OP is anti-social or does not want friends.
posted by Dansaman at 5:18 PM on April 23, 2013


It sounds like she made some really hurtful comments and was all but oblivious. Maybe she doesn't have much of a filter. I can think of some dumb, dumb things I've said to friends over the years.

She, however (and I definitely fall into this category) is totally allowed not to be too invested or interested in motherhood and domestic life.

You are 100% within your rights to put the friendship on ice for a while.

But as I get older (I'm about your age, not all that old, but not 25) I find that years spent together DO count for something. "Going back" with someone from ages 20-35, say, is more meaningful to me than it was, at age 20, to go back to kindergarten with a childhood friend. Your whole biological life with one friend is one thing...people aren't the same as adults as they were at age 5. But I am finding that a whole ADULT life together really means something.

So what I'd do is "be really busy" for as long as it takes your totally understandable hurt and anger to subside. A friendship this long can likely handle an off year or two.
posted by skbw at 5:40 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Your follow up changes a lot. I am glad you added to your original post, as now it seems to have much less drama and everything sounds more reasonable.

So, in that case, I would suggest simply being honest with her. Tell her you are swamped, overwhelmed, focused, etc. and just need some time (a month, six months, an unknown amount of time, whatever) to focus on your family. Speaking clearly to what you need will keep you from resenting her and will keep her from overstepping your boundaries.
posted by Vaike at 8:42 PM on April 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Changes in your friendships after having a baby are almost inevitable. I actually did fine for about the first six months -- it's really easy to take a quieter young baby to other people's houses in the evenings -- but once toddler time hit? We're home by 7 at the latest every night, working on bedtime, someplace where my child behaving like a two-year-old isn't embarrassing. The friends who are only available after 7 p.m. have kind of fallen by the wayside. We just have very different lives right now, and we see each other occasionally, but our friendships aren't what they were.

What makes it okay for me is my friends with kids. We can go over to their houses and let our kid run wild with theirs. They're delighted to go out for dinner at 5 p.m. or go on adventures before 10 a.m. on Saturdays. Many of the moms are also available in the middle of a weekday to do SOMETHING outside the house, even if that's just letting our children pull apart the house while we talk about parenting and not-parenting.

Some friendships aren't forever, even when they've existed for a long time already. I think it's really hard to acknowledge this when you can go on Facebook and see what your best friend from third grade ate for lunch. It sounds like you and this friend are doing different things with your lives right now, and that's fine. It really is. You don't have to write her off forever or burn the bridge, but it really really is okay to just let it go for now. Maybe you'll reconnect again; maybe not. It's okay.

If you live in a reasonably populous area, there are mom's groups. You're home all day with a baby; now is a fantastic time to go just try them out. Find one you like -- if you're in a city, different ones will have a different vibe. These are the places where you'll find mom friends. The only thing you may have in common is being moms, but it's still really nice to have someone you can text to say, "My kid is doing this thing. Is yours?" and have them say, "GOD YES, I'm so glad I"m not alone!"
posted by linettasky at 9:55 PM on April 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another thought--I have one friend in particular who lives across the country. If she lived here, I would HOPE that I'd make a point to hang out with her and her 3 kids in person, but you never know. I don't hate kids, but I can take or leave them. Probably, joking aside, we would both be too busy a lot of the time.

Parenthetically...we don't know each other from college...I think we met when I was 24 and she was 21...but a decade still counts. We were used to thinking of each other as "new post-college friend I don't know so well," until one day we realized that the years had gone by. Mostly in a positive way!

So. This friend. Without any advance planning on our parts, I have become the friend-who-embraces-her-adult-non-mommy-aspect. It's not that we refuse to talk about family...why would we? We just talk about everything else. She has said many times that I fill a need for her in that regard. She has plenty of mom friends, yes, but a lot (almost all?) of her friends from single life and college have written her off as "got married is now lame."

This is made easier by my being in a LTR and generally happy with my personal life. I genuinely would not trade places with her. BUT when I've had a rough time in my private life, she has psyched me up for dating or couples counseling or what have you. Like a friend does.

Think about making this friend your "grownup life" friend. After the dust settles over there, you may be glad for such an outlet...even if you don't talk every week.

Good luck! And congratulations on the new addition!
posted by skbw at 5:34 AM on April 24, 2013


Good friends take you out and buy you lunch and hold the baby so you can have a shower. They tell you you look beautiful and you haven't gained weight and find out nearby gyms that have a good creche. They send you books and bring round cake and wine (which they don't drink because they want to hold the baby.)

Sometimes people just can't keep up with changes. No need to keep this one close - if her life changes she may come to understand how to be good friends with a new mum, but you don't have to be her educator.
posted by glasseyes at 7:15 PM on April 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been thinking about this question a lot, so I hope the OP is still reading it. I'm probably more like your friend than you, but that doesn't mean I don't <3 my friends with new babies. I'm trying really hard to adjust to their life changes, but sometimes it's frustrating because when you're early thirties and you're NOT settling into "grown up life" -- with kids and all that -- your friends who ARE get really, really weird. Like, instead of being the same person who they KNOW hasn't gone boozing on a Tuesday in YEARS, they think you're your 21-yr-old self just with more money. It's really hurtful, particularly since they don't even seem to LIKE that 21-yr-old they're imagining you to be, even though that's the person they originally befriended.

There's not a script for this moment in your life, y'know?

So I'm going to ask you to be patient with your friend, much in the same way you're asking her to be patient and accommodating to you. Just because you can POINT to this momentous sea change in your life, baby and all, doesn't mean she's not going through a similar, deeply emotional transition. And, yeah, that might mean calling her back occassionally, even when you'd prefer to text. Or, yeah, having your partner watch your kid while you have an early dinner with your friend. Or even having her over for a movie night. Just something so that SHE knows that she's not the only one working on being your friend.

Or, you could ditch her. TBQH if you're not going to work on it too, ditching her is kinder. That way she doesn't have to watch something that's clearly important to her die.
posted by spunweb at 12:09 PM on April 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


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