I'm either insulted or over reacting
August 22, 2014 5:32 PM   Subscribe

I have been friends with Becky since the 90's. Ever since I met my husband, then had a kid, it feels like she just keeps insulting my life. Or not?

Becky and I became bffs in college. In our 20's our lives were similar. In or 30's our lives started diverging, just as I was ending an 11 year relationship, she was getting married. A few years later I met my now husband. She was happy for me then, but I am feeling as though she views him, and my new life with child, with disdain.

We live many miles apart now so I don't have to deal with this on a regular basis, but it still bothers me. When kiddo was first born we lived in the same town. I am a stay at home mom and after the birth she would constantly say 'hey let's hang out, leave kiddo with husband.' I would say no citing it just doesn't work like that, kiddo is 2 weeks old and needs to be fed every couple of hours. She would get this terse tone and say fine. This was a regular occurrence. I would invite her over on occasion, but she would usually seem annoyed by baby.

Kiddo is 19 months old now. We moved away several months ago. When we talk she asks me if I'm ready to pull my hair out yet. I confide, yes there are days like that, but it's fine, just comes with the territory. She again says, just leave kiddo with husband and go do something (that is completely plausible now, but it is the next phrase that cuts to my core) It's the least he can do.

That pisses me off to no end! I can't decide if I should launch in to a 'how dare you, you have no idea' tirade or just let it go. At that moment I simply said that he works a very stressful job and that this is the role I signed on for. This is just the normal frustration level for a stay at home mom. She went off on how him having a job isn't good enough. I ended the call shortly after.
She and her husband don't want kids ever. I don't care. We just have different priorities now. She is still free to be free. Our family comes first and foremost.

Next time I speak to her, do I tell her how much her comments about my husband bother me? Do I rail off all the great things he does other than 'earning money? Should I just not be so insulted?
posted by MayNicholas to Human Relations (55 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It sounds like you need to set a boundary with Becky. "Becky, when you say those things about my husband, it is upsetting to me. I do not want to talk about this topic with you anymore." When she asks things like "Don't you want to pull out your hair?" you say "I am so happy with my life. Have you seen the new Brad Pitt movie?" When she pushes and says, "The least your husband can do is watch the kid for a few hours," you say, "Becky, we talked about this. I am not talking about that with you anymore." And if she pushes, you say, "I have to go, bye" and you let her say "bye" and then you hang up.

You do not have to be less insulted. Feel what you feel. And you don't have to justify your life to her. Don't talk about how great your husband is. You know it, you're happy with him, and this is your life. You don't have to prove anything to her.

Set the boundary, enforce it, and see how it goes. I think that will be very helpful for your relationship with Becky. If she can't handle the boundary, and she gets upset with you for not wanting to talk about your husband and whether or not he "does enough" to help with the kid - well, that just shows you that she is exactly the type of person with whom you need firm boundaries if you're going to maintain a relationship with her.
posted by sockermom at 5:41 PM on August 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

I think it's really hard for non-parents to grok exactly how time consuming parenting is. Is it really not possible to leave a 19 month old with dad while you go do something else? I don't know and I'm not second guessing your parenting, the point is I don't know and to me, it might seem a totally reasonable option and like your husband was being unreasonable.

So, if you have some patience left, I think you should explain that actually it's not the best thing to leave Junior with Dad because ... whatever ... and that sometimes you feel overwhelmed but here's how you have some me-time. Because I wonder if that's where this is coming from - she is concerned you're not taking care of yourself.

This may be an unbridgeable gap. I have drifted away from my best friend because everything is about her kid now (as it should be, but it still hampers our friendship). But like I said, I'd try to be patient and figure out if she is coming from a place of concern or if she's contemptuous.
posted by desjardins at 5:42 PM on August 22, 2014 [20 favorites]

I'm totally confused what you're even insulted BY. The fact that she implied that your husband should be helping with the baby? Ummmm. He should. Any decent friend would be implying this because they care about you.

If you don't want to go out with her, just say you can't. If your husband is working say "Joe is working tonight, sorry, can't." You really do not need to "rail off all the great things he does other than 'earning money.'" What the heck. No. There is some crazy high levels of defensiveness here that seem to be indicative of something else besides a totally inane comment.
posted by celtalitha at 5:44 PM on August 22, 2014 [79 favorites]

I'm on Becky's side. Go spend a day with your friend. As a SAHM, it is the least your husband an do.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:46 PM on August 22, 2014 [40 favorites]

She's not insulting your life. She's self-absorbed and clueless about the commitment it takes to a raise a kid. This is her trying to explain why it is you can never hang out, because she's disappointed, not because of some desire to belittle you.

She wants to hang out with you, you site a reason why, and she responds essentially "can't you just not do that?" Friends have been saying that sort of thing about work, family and other social obligations forever.

"The least he could do" just seems like riffing off the popular conception that women do all the domestic work, and that you had to do the pregnancy/labor aspect. Unless there's a lot more to what she says that you didn't share, I don't think it's a seriously thought out criticism of your husband. It's obnoxious, but it's not an insult to your life.

So, she's being a jerk, but not in the way you seem to think she is.

I would suggest you think of this not as an attack on you, but of a clueless and bored friend trying to reconnect. It's actually not that crazy for you to carve out a little time for yourself and friends, but, she certainly needs to back off.

Next time this happens, remind her that she doesn't see all the things your husband does. Her apparent view that your husband doesn't do enough work is based on just her disappointment that you can't hang out. Again, self-absorption, she doesn't understand what your husband does and thinks she knows more than she does. Tell her it just really takes that much work to raise a kid. She'll buy that, as it's probably fits into her childfree worldview.

If that doesn't take, just drop her as a friend. You don't owe her an explanation, a fight or goodbye.
posted by spaltavian at 5:48 PM on August 22, 2014 [12 favorites]

Response by poster: Not to thread sit but...

We no longer live near each other.

Daddy Nicholas is happy to spend one on one time with kiddo. I enjoy our unit so when he says ' is there any thing you want to go do on your own?' my answer is usually no. I am free to go do what I want, my want is our family.
posted by MayNicholas at 5:55 PM on August 22, 2014

Best answer: It seems that Becky has disdain for your lifestyle out of latent misogyny.

It's in the same vein as "Courtney Milan had an odd career path. Double major in math & chemistry, MS in physical chemistry, law school, clerk for supreme court justices, law professor, then........quit to become a historical romance writer?"

You could address this with her. Your lifestyle is by choice, not oppression, and if she respects your humanity, she would accept that your choice ("my want is our family") is valid.
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:59 PM on August 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

Maybe she just doesn't like kids and wants to see her old friend without seeing the baby.

I've read your question several times and I can't figure out where the insult is.
posted by 26.2 at 6:05 PM on August 22, 2014 [30 favorites]

I am free to go do what I want, my want is our family.

Well, that's fine, but that's not her problem. Obviously, you and Becky do not have compatible lives anymore.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:05 PM on August 22, 2014 [20 favorites]

I am free to go do what I want, my want is our family.

Maybe you should just tell her that so she stops wasting time trying to maintain a friendship that you no longer want.
posted by Mavri at 6:11 PM on August 22, 2014 [100 favorites]

She just wants to see her old friend without a kid around demanding your attention. Obviously if you+kid are now an inseparable unit, it's only fair to let her know.
posted by superfish at 6:13 PM on August 22, 2014 [20 favorites]

It really sounds like your friend misses you, doesn't really know how to talk to you about your new life, and is being incredibly clumsy in her attempts to be there for you. Honestly, most moms I know do a bit of griping about being busy, or stressed, or not having enough help... my SAHM best friend has two little ones (4 years old and 1 year old), and yes, her husband works his ass off to support them all and it's not all bad, but there are days when all I hear from her is how stressed she is and how she can't wait until the kids are in bed and she has a minute to herself. It's great that you seemingly have little stress and never really want a moment to yourself, but as someone who has more friends with kids than without, you are a distinct rarity, and I can easily see how your friend is not sure how to talk to you about this.

As a childless person, I guarantee that this is how parenting is presented to us -- it is simultaneously the most rewarding thing a person can do with their lives AND the most stressful, tear-your-hair-out job on the planet.

She is really not insulting your husband when she says "it's the least he can do." I'll go back to using my own best friend as an example -- yes, her husband works his ass off. He also gets to leave the house every day, talk to other adults, use his brain for more than teaching a 1 year old how to say "doggie" or a 4 year old how to process anger without lashing out at others. He gets to eat a meal without having two little humans crawling all over him. He gets to use the restroom without anyone barging in to stare at him and ask for a snack. He gets outside stimulation, and his wife depends on stealing a few moments on Facebook or sending a text message to have any adult interaction at all. And the best thing about him is that he knows that, and when he gets home from a long day at work and the kids are fed and in bed, sometimes he says, "Hey, hon, why don't you take a bottle of wine over to palomar's house? Go have some girl time. It's the least I can do." He recognizes that her job is just as hard as his, and that she deserves some free time now and then, just as he does. (He gets his nights out, too. More than she does, but she's an introvert who's content to stay home and chill after the kids are in bed while he goes out to play Magic with his nerds.)

TL;DR: yes, you are overreacting. Try cutting your friend some slack. Or, cut her loose, because upon second reading you don't really sound like you like her at all or want her in your life. And that's a shame... down the road you might realize that having friends outside your family is actually a really great thing.
posted by palomar at 6:20 PM on August 22, 2014 [50 favorites]

Best answer: I think people are missing that the poster and her friend no longer live anywhere near each other, so the problem is not that they can't get enough/any in-person friend time. Rather, when the poster takes time to chat with the friend on the phone, the conversation is full of judgey comments about being a SAHM.

I don't have a great solution for this, but I think part of it could be in responding to these comments not with trying to defend your husband on his behalf, but assuring your friend that you're happy with the current set up. For example, when she says it's the least he could do, you could say, "And of course he's very happy to, offers to often, and I am happy to take him up on it when I feel the need or desire to. I just don't happen to want to today because I would honestly rather spend time with kiddo." I think the idea of drawing a boundary around this and saying something like "Once and for all, I am really happy to have chosen this plan for how I want to parent, my husband is not slacking or forcing me into it, so can we please cut this out? Next time I am going to end the conversation." And then do.
posted by rainbowbrite at 6:22 PM on August 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

I don't quite see the insult either, possibly because I'm another person without kids, so my conception of what is do-able with a baby may be totally off. But it matters that you feel hurt, and if I were your friend, I'd want to know I was unintentionally hurting you. It sounds like you need to have some variant of sockermom's discussion, if you want to save the friendship, but maybe also try to cut her a little slack. It's not a bad thing that she wants what is best for you, although it's tonedeaf of her not to realize she's wrong about what that is at the moment.

It would also be okay to just decide your lives are incompatible now and cut her loose. But don't just seethe quietly every time this happens, that does neither of you any good.
posted by Stacey at 6:25 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

The problem is that there's nowhere in the OP where the friend is "full of judgey comments about being a SAHM." The given example isn't judgey at all, which is why so many of us are perplexed.

OP if you don't want to go out and the friend says "he can watch them, it's the least he can do!" you should simply say "oh I know, and he would, but I'm kind of a homebody and I just don't feel like leaving little Junior much these days." Or something like that. No need to overdramatize it.
posted by celtalitha at 6:27 PM on August 22, 2014 [31 favorites]

It sounds like she's getting the message that it's your husband's lack of willingness or ability to take the baby that is blocking your availability. That's why she's saying "It's the least he could do." If you were clearer about the fact that *you* have no interest in leaving the baby behind to meet up with her ("Yes he'd be fine with it but I don't want to.") then she'd get a better picture of what the real barrier is and she'd stop taking digs at your husband.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 6:27 PM on August 22, 2014 [72 favorites]

Is it possible she's just genuinely concerned that you aren't getting enough time to yourself? SAHM don't actually need to be responsible for parenting 100% of the time, and working partners should be doing a lot of parenting when they're home. If you've basically been telling her that you're having to be physically present with your child every moment of the day for the last almost-two years, she may be worried that you're neglecting your own physical, emotional, and psychological needs.

Of course a child is going to require shifting the parents' priorities, but it's not unusual for mothers to run themselves into the ground and not push to get any of their own needs met, and it's not unusual for such dynamics to end very very badly.

She's certainly expressing her views in unhelpful ways, but it may be worth examining (a) whether she has a point about your not taking care of yourself, and (b) if she doesn't, how you can share with her those ways in which what you are doing is fulfilling.

And if she's still cranky and anti-kid after that shift toward positivity, then I'd look at more explicit boundary-setting.
posted by jaguar at 6:29 PM on August 22, 2014 [8 favorites]

Another thought - if you lived close by and always made excuses not to go out and hang out with her, it's totally natural of her to assume maybe the reason was with your husband, since it would be kind of a bummer to realize that your own close friend actually plain doesn't want to hang out with you.
posted by celtalitha at 6:33 PM on August 22, 2014 [15 favorites]

Often, when I get bent out of shape by seemingly innocuous comments it is because, on some level, I either believe that the content of the comment is true or I worry that it might be true.

Perhaps you may want to take this as an opportunity to think more about your own feelings about how childcare responsibilities are being managed in your household.
posted by girl flaneur at 6:40 PM on August 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

If you're going to use your responsibility to your family as a reason to NOT hang out with this particular friend, then I think it's perfectly understandable that she will be even more adamant that you need a break. Particularly if she has the impression you're resentful of being forced to manage all the household duties and childcare and all your husband is doing is bringing home the money. And I don't think that's an unreasonable impression or assumption to make when a friend constantly bails, citing having to watch the kiddo. Personally, I don't see the insult in her comments - I see a friend eager to get alone time with her friend and who, apparently has not been told this:

"I am free to go do what I want, my want is our family."

So tell her precisely that. There's nothing more you really need to tell her.
posted by stubbehtail at 6:41 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I totally get the judginess of what Becky's saying.....but then, I was an absolutely miserable SAHM who should never in life have been a SAHM and would have given her washer, dryer, and left arm to not be a SAHM any more. In other words, your exact opposite. My reaction to someone telling me to "just dump kiddo on the husband" would have been "OMG I FREAKING WISH!!!"

However, that was then, and that was me, and this is now, and this is you. I think you just need to make it clear to her that this is your choice, this is what you want to be doing with your life, and that you are really freaking happy doing what you're doing. Because she's probably completely baffled by the whole SAHM gig. I have some friends who are childless by choice, and they've said, pretty universally, that they have absolutely no idea how people don't lose their freaking minds being full-time SAHparents. In her mind, her rocking friend MayNicholas is shackled to the stove while waiting hand and foot on this screeching poop factory, and then has to bring HusbNicholas a 7 course meal and brandy and a cigar while juggling BabyNicholas into the tub and jammies and crib, and then has to put on a red lace teddy for grownup time with HusbNicholas before BabyNicholas wakes up screaming because he's puked all over himself and painted the walls with it and ran out of vomit with which to paint and OMG I HAVE TO RESCUE MAYNICHOLAS FROM THIS TORMENT!

She just doesn't get it. That's all. Clue her in. And if she keeps being Judgey McJudgerson, then go with sockermom's script.
posted by The Almighty Mommy Goddess at 6:42 PM on August 22, 2014 [10 favorites]

Honestly it sounds like she's trying to take care of you in a clumsy way. I can see myself saying the "it's the least he can do" thing, and I was -- briefly -- a SAHM. Also, she wants to hang out.

If you let your adult friendships fall by the wayside now, you're going to have to do some damage control, or find new friends, when you are ready to surface.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:42 PM on August 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

Maybe your friend doesn't want to believe that your priorities have shifted so dramatically as to suddenly not include her at all - maybe it's easier for her to believe that your husband is really the one to blame. I will say as a childless person whose friends have almost all had babies in the past five years, it can be a real bummer that they have almost all suddenly become unpredictably unavailable. I'm being patient with my friends because I understand that this is a temporary period and that eventually the kids will get older and they'll be more social again, but this period of life is a hard thing to adjust to for everybody, whether you become a parent or not.
posted by something something at 6:43 PM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Thread sitting...

We live hours apart now and have for the last 8 months. It is not about her wanting one on one time.

I have stated to her that this is the life I want, albeit frustrating at times. I chose this and I am happy with it. Sometimes she calls at just that moment when I'm so worn out that I need an adult to talk to, but I just listen to her go on about how great everything is going for her, then decide against unloading about how rough potty training, lunch, the trip to Target, etc because she hasn't seemed to care (for quite some time) to just listen. She just remarks how my husband should do more. I have shut down and she seems to blame my husband.
posted by MayNicholas at 6:44 PM on August 22, 2014

Best answer: OP, I think you need to have a talk with your friend, one in which you both listen trying to figure out where she's coming from, and also deliver a message.

I do agree with people that there could be a real component of cluelessness here, and that even the comment about "the least he can do" might just be her being fiercely on your side and not meaning to hurt you by comments about your husband. This could all be misplaced empathy, her putting herself in your shoes and feeling like she'd be unhappy so you must be as well.

I also think it's possible that your friend is feeling sad and abandoned about losing you, the way you guys used to be, and that she is expressing resentment through these barbs. So I'd start with a statement but move toward a question: "it seems like you have a lot of negative comments about my life lately. I felt hurt and upset when you implied that Joe isn't doing enough. I'm really happy with my life. While I know you'd make different choices, I hope you can support me in the choices I've made. But I'm curious what's behind these comments for you. Maybe you don't even mean to come across as being critical? Or is something bothering you that you'd like to discuss? I don't mean to put you on the spot, if you need some time to think before we talk, that's okay."
posted by salvia at 6:46 PM on August 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: She might not be listening, but you're not telling her anything, either. If you need to vent but you won't vent to her and instead only tell her that you chose this and you're happy, how can she know that you need to vent? You said yourself that you've shut down. Maybe instead of blaming her for that and writing her off, you could try actually talking to her? If she's rambling on, interrupt and tell her you need to vent. Let her actually be a friend, instead of making her into the enemy.
posted by palomar at 6:55 PM on August 22, 2014 [24 favorites]

I accept that these are barbs, but I don't quite get how saying that your husband could help more is an insult. It might not be The Right Answer to whatever frustration you are having. But I am not sure how it ends up being a judgment on your choices. (It may be lost in translation. I did all the night parenting while I was home, and got similar comments. But I didn't have to be coherent at an office the next day. It wasn't a long-term issue with my friends.)

I'm mentioning this because women are continually judged on their childrearing choices from what they eat in pregnancy to whether they are being too helicopter-y when they inspect the dorms on the drop off to university. It creates a toxic atmosphere. I would consider whether you are really reacting to her, or whether you're reacting to the entire cultural script about SAHMs and distant dads through her.

When I went back to work full-time my son was sick a lot the first year in daycare due to all the germs. I had a coworker who was continually mentioning how he was never sick as a kid and I felt quite judged by him. One day I kind of lost it at him and he was visibly shocked...he had been sharing that he had been in daycare, and then later was never sick...so he was trying to reassure me. It was my own feeling of being trapped between commitments that was filtering my understanding of what he was saying.
posted by warriorqueen at 7:07 PM on August 22, 2014 [8 favorites]

I kind of get where she's coming from. Before I had a baby, I would see moms on maternity or SAHMs in my town pushing their strollers around. Knowing that these moms more likely than not had multiple advanced degrees, impressive work histories, and previously fully funded 401ks, I would feel kind of enraged to see them pushing strollers around. It seemed so obviously unfair, because it was always the MOMS. It wasn't about any one of them as individuals; it was the structural inequity.

Now that I have a baby, I totally would have been one of those SAHMs with a JD and a stroller if I could swing it financially, at least for a while. So my views have changed. But at the same time, it's still clear that the preponderance of JD stroller moms represents a structural inequity, even though I understand now how you end up there with a JD and a stroller and perfectly happy. You're perfectly happy, but the structural inequity is still there.

None of this is to say that she's being a good friend. If she does not have the connection with you to understand the dual fact that being a SAHM is unfair and also great, then she's probably not worth trying to keep in your life.
posted by yarly at 7:09 PM on August 22, 2014 [7 favorites]

It's sounds like you're over-reacting, honestly. Nothing that you wrote here, taken on its own, sounds particularly insulting.

Are you projecting some of your own thoughts onto Becky?

Really and truly, it sounds like your using your friend as a scapegoat. Maybe she's kind of abrasive, but this is more a you problem than a Becky problem.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 7:17 PM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm so worn out that I need an adult to talk to, but I just listen to her go on about how great everything is going for her, then decide against unloading about how rough potty training, lunch, the trip to Target, etc because she hasn't seemed to care (for quite some time) to just listen. She just remarks how my husband should do more. I have shut down and she seems to blame my husband.

A few things:

1) I totally agree this is venting, not a conversation.
2) If you need someone to vent to, try someone WITH kids or even wants kids.

3) Tough love: Husband and I don't want kids. We actually kinda can't stand kids. If my friend had a kid and her side of the conversation was only talking about how crappy (pun) potty training was, I honestly wouldn't really want to be her friend. Honestly my response to your potty training stories would be "And that's why we don't want kids." (Not that you are a bad person or a bad friend inherently, but it's not what I want to talk about.)

4) Therefore, maybe put yourself in her position. Your lifestyle is not the lifestyle she wants. She probably doesn't want to hear about your kid problems. She wants a friend. It's not a mommy support group. Keep the conversation lighter and cut her some slack and just drop those topics.
posted by Crystalinne at 7:22 PM on August 22, 2014 [17 favorites]

It seems to me your life has gotten too busy, and too small, to include Becky. I think Becky is desperately trying to hold on to the friendship, calling out on your husband for a lifeline to give you two the time to be together. It's the least he can do...try to save this fragile friendship for his dear wife.
I'm not sure you even want this friendship any more. I think you should think long on this, and be purposeful about your interactions with Becky in the coming months.

I am free to go do what I want, my want is our family.
Do you want your family to the point you alienate one of your oldest friends? How does Becky feel about that statement? I imagine it stings. It seems you want your family to the exclusion of your friendships.
What is the status of your other adult friendships?

This seems like a good time to examine what you want and need now and what you will want and need in the future. Perhaps you will decide you need your old friends, or perhaps casting them off is what you really want.

Becky is trying to keep your friendship. I hope you can thank her for hanging in there in the future. I think she is also mourning the loss of your friendship. It's a difficult thing; to see a close relationship dissolve and try to fight to keep it.

I hope you can find your way here, and that your decisions bring you comfort and joy.
posted by littlewater at 7:25 PM on August 22, 2014 [11 favorites]

I can understand Becky being annoyed because you won't go out the way you used to, but she's a grown adult. She should be able to roll with this. What's wrong with coming over and hanging out at the house with you and the baby?

Maybe we're odd, but it seems very normal to me to visit and spend time at someone's house if they have a new baby. It also seems normal to take a baby or toddler out with you when you go out. At some point you will want time out by yourself, but you decide that, other people don't decide that for you.

Once you have kids, I think it does get harder to be friends with people that don't have them. It's a huge fork in the road, it's a different way of looking at life, and it doesn't get narrower. That said, we have friends that don't have kids, some quite dear.

Saw your update. I think it will be very hard to repair this friendship over the phone. Maybe you can let in some distance, talk less, don't expect too much, without an actual break? I don't know how important this friendship is to you, but if you want to keep it, that's what I'd try. I have a friend that I don't connect with all that well any more, but I still value the friendship and we've stayed friends for many many years on loose terms.

You've gotten a lot of comments with veiled and not so veiled hostility here. I don't think you're being an asshole, at all.
posted by mattu at 7:32 PM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Crystalline your comment #4 just hit a nerve. You may be right. I feel like she doesn't want to hear about my kid problems, that is why I don't talk about them. But I listen to her when things aren't going great for her and her husband. I have no complaints about my husband. I don't know how to balance because I really want equal venting time with no hold over judgment. I don't make comments about her husband when he isn't towing the line she would like. I would prefer she not make comments I feel have a negative tone about my husband because I answered the phone at a particularly frustrating time. Aka tantrum five minutes ago.
posted by MayNicholas at 7:38 PM on August 22, 2014

I'm with jaguar - does your friend have any reason to worry about you? You're saying she usually hears from you when you're frustrated. If her sample of exchanges with you is biased, call her when you're feeling good, and want to share that. If her sample fairly represents how you feel most of the time, maybe she's got a point.

I mean, family is family, sure, and I'm not judging here, but how many times have you left the house in the past 18 months?
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:42 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is going to suck, but I'll be the honest one. When I listen to my friends with kids go on about them..it bores me to tears. While I care about your child, and I may even love him or her, ganug already! What do you think about Ferguson? Will there ever be peace in the middle east? What's it like in your new city? Gone to any cool museums or events there?

Your life as a SAHM has narrowed considerably. You haven't any interest in your friend's life, you don't want to leave your home and you don't want to leave your baby and have a 100% adult conversation with anyone who isn't your family. Your only topic of conversation is the baby. That's a problem! Just because you're now a mother, it doesn't mean that you aren't an adult, a woman, a person with opinions about things OTHER than diapers and laundry.

Having one-on-one time with female friends is a special thing. Those of us who are childless appreciate an hour of uninterrupted discourse with someone who knows us from way back when. It's a real drag when all our companion can talk about is something I have no experience with and can't really relate to.

Friendships are about commonality and history. You have cut your friend off completely from the history of your friendship and because you are so family focused, you're erasing your commonality.

Being a SAHM is awesome, but being a mother doesn't define you as a person 100% any more than being a father defines your husband 100%.

I get that you're happy as is, but soon the kiddo will be independent and in school, and then what?

I agree that your friend is being obnoxious. For sure you can tell her, "Becky, I'm very happy in my new role as a SAHM, and sometimes it seems like you're trying to diminish my role and that of my husband. Please don't do that."

But, you really CAN let your husband watch the baby while you go out and have lunch. Sure, she's not in the neighborhood anymore, but figuratively. I also recommend that you join a book club, volunteer somewhere and mix and mingle with adults.

Don't be one of those women whose world is the exact size of her house.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:46 PM on August 22, 2014 [70 favorites]

This is a complicated issue. You obviously are coming from different perspectives now. I think she is being rude, and should definitely not criticize your husband or arrangements, but she also may have some valid points, she is just not phrasing it in a respectful way, and obviously does not understand what it is like to have a child. On the other hand, it would not be unreasonable at all for your husband to watch the baby so you can go out with a friend alone once in a while. He has a job, but you have a job that last 24 hours a day with no time off.

I can see how she may be frustrated with how your friendship has changed, and now you seem to have no time for her. From her outside view, certain things may seem unreasonable. But it's not her place to judge or criticize. She shouldn't talk to you like that, but maybe she is somewhat hurt and frustrated and doesn't understand how what she says is affecting you. From previous posts, I know you have a lot of anxiety and may tend to overthink things. I think before cutting her off or anything, you should sit down and talk to her. She may feel that you are close enough that she can bring her concerns to you in a blunt way, and not realize that she comes across as insulting. Tell her the way she talks about this is upsetting to you. You'd like her to be more understanding and that she comes off as critical. Tell her you don't want to hear any more about how you choose to balance your life and childcare, you shouldn't have to defend your choices. At the same time, if you value this friendship, you should make an effort to have a girls only night with her occasionally. You need a break from husband and baby sometimes too. If she is receptive to what you are saying, and stops the critical talk, try to meet her halfway.
posted by catatethebird at 7:57 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I hadn't thought to look, but catatethebird has a good point; a month ago, you were having a very hard time. If those issues, and those feelings, are what your friend's been hearing about (or sensing, if you aren't explicitly talking about them and she knows you well), concern for you is where she's fundamentally coming from, even if she's been a bit rude on the surface, from lack of experience and knowledge about what parenthood involves.

You set up this question by talking about your friend being the first to marry, your breakup, then being a SAHM while you describe your friend as 'free'-- I think you're the one comparing your life to your friend's, and anticipating judgements (whether she's made her own or not, and of course she may have). I think there's some defensiveness going on, and I agree with catatethebird, Ruthless Bunny and others that it would be a good idea to try to get past it and accept your friend's efforts to reach out.
posted by cotton dress sock at 8:13 PM on August 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

It sounds like you just don't want or need her around as a friend any more and all you care about is the baby and/or husband. And on her side, she's not interested in kidtalk and all you have to offer is kidtalk, so she thinks the same thing we foolish childfree folks think: "Does it have to be all you, all the time? Maybe if you spent a few hours on your own, you'd have other interests." Except the answer is "yes, it DOES have to be the mom, all the time, the dad can't nurse."

Honestly, just break up with her as a friend already. You sound so done with her and her petty little non-child concerns.

Okay, so I'm kind of feeling snitty while reading this, but this kind of thing is why I'm convinced that you can't maintain a friendship with a mother (unless you are also a mother) until the youngest child hits five. I get it, I get it, you have no room or interests for the likes of me. Becky doesn't get it yet, so it's time for you to drop the clue anvil on her and move on.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:20 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, Becky is basically like, "You used to be cool, man." Let her go be cool, and enjoy the rest of your life.
posted by ignignokt at 8:32 PM on August 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: One of the things I've learned that's helpful in situations like this is just acknowledging that you hear the other person - especially with people you've known a long time like family and long time friends. I think people pick these battle stances against other people they've known a while, sometimes without even knowing it, because everyone has outdated ideas of each other but still care really deeply about each other. So sometimes people want to defend who they've become and validate their own choices, while the other person is insisting that they really know who they are and what's best for them. To me what they're really trying to say is that they still care.

I think saying things like "I understand that you're saying this because you care about me. I'm doing okay with my choices, but I understand that you care and I really appreciate that. I want you to know that" can really help relax the tension here and help you guys move past this a bit. Saying that you understand doesn't mean you have to change anything, explain your choices or defend your husband, or criticize your friend.
posted by sweetkid at 8:42 PM on August 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm not a parent and don't want to be one, but I thought Becky sounded pretty judgey. Whatever is the most or least your husband can do, that's between you and him.

It reminds me of a situation, though - I once vented about a family member to my friend Zelda, and she then said things like "good grief what's WRONG with your loved one" (note: nothing criminal or overly dysfunctional was discussed). I realized then that I have an unwritten rule that I never criticize my friends' loved ones. If they complain about mom/husb/sis/whatever I try to be sympathetic without judging the loved one. Zelda does not have that rule and Becky may not either. My solution has been to vent to others, not Zelda.

You could however just say "why do you say that?" next time she does it. And see if she has some sort of explanation that makes sense. And maybe gently let her know how it makes you feel.
posted by bunderful at 8:49 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Another vote that she's probably just worried about you.

Lots of people change dramatically when they pair off and start families. And that's to be expected: it's a huge change! But I've had close girlfriends who've paired up or started families and eventually become unrecognizable to an almost Stepford degree. They're meek around their husbands, they get really really protective about their home lives... Sometimes there's even a complete CIA-level redaction of their wild and wonderful pasts -- the pasts that made them who they are. (This has happened to me when I've just been partnered up. I just get so focused on it that I'm not quite the same, socially.)

OP, this may not apply to you at all, but if there's even a chance that your friend feels this is happening, perhaps she's unsure how to act around you, so she's acting weird, and that's starting to tingle your spidey senses, and she's picking up on that. It's just a crazy circle.

Is it possible to start this conversation with her by saying, "You're someone I love and I want us to be friends always, but with this new baby, I feel the dynamic has changed. Are we ok?"

And then listen. Listen more than you talk. Let her be your friend.
posted by mochapickle at 8:57 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I would give Becky the benefit of the doubt that she is missing her friend and trying to be your advocate. I know it is hard sometimes, but that is usually the best policy when dealing with people who have mostly always had your back. I became a mostly SAHM at the age of 40 and I even sometimes wish my friends--some of whom I met through 5 year old Little Murrey's school--would get out more without the kids. It is hellish trying to maintain any sort of reasonably meaningful conversation with little ones constantly needing something. I was also old enough before I had my own kid to be utterly bored by kid talk. Honestly, it is some seriously boring stuff. Heck, I still zone out for some conversations and I am in the thick of it!

One other thing...I met up for a long weekend away with my best girlfriend when Little Murrey was 10 months old. At the time she was childless. She lived 8 hours away but she agreed to meet closer to my house just in case I needed a Little Murrey fix since I had never left him alone before. Best 3 nights ever!! Didn't see Little Murrey once. I simply didn't realize how much I needed alone time for just me and my friend until I took it. And I must admit that since she became a parent, I have sometimes wished that she would leave her daughter with her dad so that we could do that again. I would even travel to her this time since I know 3 nights away will do me a world of good.

Trust that your friend is not trying to hurt you. She just wants uninterrupted time with her friend.
posted by murrey at 9:10 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

When you say,
"...this is the life I want, albeit frustrating at times. I chose this and I am happy with it."
To me, it could sound like, "I put myself in this position, so I have to deal with the consequences." In other words, the tone might seem like you are really unhappy.

If your friend is hearing it this way, she's naturally going to feel a desire to protect you, or to somehow encourage you to be empowered to do what really makes you happy. It's common to hear that mothers are overworked and very underappreciated. Based on the little information she has, she wants your life to be better than this.

If you really are happy -- and it sounds like you might be -- make sure your communicating that in a purer way than just words.
posted by amtho at 9:21 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

You're venting but your friend sounds like she's trying to problem solve, possibly in the hopes that you'll vent less, but also probably because she's your friend and she cares and wants to help. So level with her. "Becky, I promise I really am just venting and that I'm just not telling you about the good stuff. It would be really great to have you just listen and sympathize (or say sympathetic things. I know it's not the most fascinating topic of conversation for you, so let me know if it's happening too often. I could even agree that I'll stop after X minutes and we'll talk about puppies/celebrity gossip/mutual hobby we used to have instead"
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 9:28 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm guessing somehow that vague but insidious sense of competition that sometimes creeps into friendships for whatever reason has crept into yours, at least in Beckys mind. Some people just don't know how to say to themselves "our lives are different now because we've made different choices, and that's ok". Especially friendships that start during the part of our lives when we're still just trying to figure things out, like in high school or college. So Becky is trying to paint your husband as the bad guy to score points on the "my life is better" scale. She wants to make out your life is worse than it is in order to make herself feel better. That is totally one of the games people say and I for one believe you that it's happening. I think this is much more likely than that she's bored talking about kid stuff as her reaction to that would likely manifest itself differently.

The only way to "win" at the competition game is to end the game and get your friendship back. The only way to do that is bring it out into the open. Talk about how you feel, tell her you think there is some competitiveness but don't blame her, tell her how much you love her and value your friendship, and explain how it feels when she makes out your husband is doing something wrong. Basically, have an honest conversation and clear the air. Hopefully it will work. If not, time to distance yourself from her, but try this first.
posted by hazyjane at 10:47 PM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Mother of two, here. I think it's impossible to stay bff while ayour life interests are both so incompatible AND so brain consuming. It sounds like talking about life stuff is a main part of your friendship. As you rightly say, what mutual things can you talk about?
Luckily my childfree friends understand this. We talk less frequently but remain in contact warmly and I feel this makes it easier for us to hear the other person go on about stuff we are not intrinsically interested in.
posted by Omnomnom at 11:48 PM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

So much projection on your friend's motivations. The first comment you favorited was that she's clearly a misogynist? Geez...

Consider: you've been crying out for help lately, including stuff about your husband. Your friend has been trying to draw you out, however clumsily. You resent her both for doing that and for talking about her own life. You two aren't connecting and it's a two-way street. If you don't want her in your life right now, level with her. Don't burn that bridge completely if you don't have to. You might want her friendship later.
posted by SakuraK at 12:55 AM on August 23, 2014 [11 favorites]

I wonder of sometimes you are interpreting things as judgement that really aren't intended that way.

I am the Becky in a friendship like yours and my friend has pulled me up on attitudes that she thought were coming through on what I say on the phone with her that honestly weren't intended. In fact, I find myself second guessing what I say a lot now.

If I talk about good things in my life, she takes it as boasting about how much better my life has worked out than hers. (Which I don't think is actually true, either.) If I vent about stuff, she complains that I don't know how hard things REALLY are, in the "real world" where you have to keep a small human alive. If I sympathise with her when she is venting, apparently it comes across as condescending. I think in her mind we are in some sort of competition now, and/or she feels a need to prove to me that she has made the right life choices. I find that sad and it makes interactions hard.

I think it sounds like something similar might be going on with you guys.
posted by lollusc at 2:09 AM on August 23, 2014 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Is Becky the same friend from this earlier question? If she, it sounds pretty self absorbed.

Next time I speak to her, do I tell her how much her comments about my husband bother me?

Yes, absolutely. It doesn't mean you have to go into a tirade, but definitely let her know that it bothers you. Because whether she knows it or not, she's being insulting. It sounds like she doesn't value the choice you made to be a stay at home mom and is actively trying to "save" you from the downsides of that freely made decision.

If she really cared, she'd offer suggestions or just listen, instead of going off about your husband. But she doesn't care, not really. She doesn't understand your decisions and feels the need to tear it down to make herself and her life decisions feel good. She's not being a good friend and you should call her out on that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:18 AM on August 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes, same friend.
posted by MayNicholas at 5:20 AM on August 23, 2014

Not a parent, don't think I have any really great advice, but I just wanted to say that even though many above don't seem to get it.. I totally do. Who is she to say "that's the least he could do".... seriously??? How is that NOT utterly insulting to your husband and your family arrangement, which she is not anywhere near qualified to comment on.

Anyway, if you're keeping tally, you can mark me down under the "Becky sucks" heading, and proceed how you will.
posted by wats at 11:10 AM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you keep making excuses not to see her, she's going to try to solve problems you don't have. To her, the problem is that you can't get away from baby. However, the problem actually is that YOU DON'T WANT TO get away from baby. Be honest and, if nothing else, she'll stop telling you to ask your husband for help.
posted by lydhre at 11:44 AM on August 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

With that other question as context I'm going to say that you just don't like this person any longer. It's not about what she says, you simply do not like this person.

You don't have to maintain a relationship with someone when you no longer enjoy their company. You also don't have to give it the power of a big drama. Stop taking her calls and fade away. At most send her a birthday card each year with a note and a photo of your family.

None of us need to stay in relationships which no longer serve our needs.
posted by 26.2 at 1:52 PM on August 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

She gets a rude tone when you didn't want to go out and you had a baby two weeks ago... That's definitely clueless.
Then comes over and seems annoyed by baby?
That's rude.
I am surprised people don't see "its the least he could do" as overtly rude.
Thus phrase is only polite when said of ones own humble contribution (I.e. it's the least I could do). Said about others, it definitely sounds judgmental, and implying person does absolutely nothing now.

So, no, you are not overreacting.

I'd tell her how you feel clearly. If she continues to be unable to listen to you, she isn't really a great friend.
posted by chapps at 12:35 AM on August 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

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