Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I’m Jealous of My Sister’s Baby”

stork

I’m 32, and my sister, who is my only sibling, is due with her first baby at the end of the month. I don’t have children, and I’m very excited to have a nephew. This is our parents’ first grandbaby, so I understand completely that they are very excited, especially my mother, as she loves babies.

My parents, who are divorced, live within twenty and forty minutes of me, respectively, but my sister lives several states away in Florida. My mother is going to see my sister next week and, other than a one-week visit at Christmas, she isn’t coming back for good until next May. I feel like she doesn’t care that she has another daughter (me) that she won’t be with for Thanksgiving, and also she doesn’t even care that she’s going to miss my birthday in January. I’m very close with my mom, we talk everyday and always do things together, but I feel like she’s going to completely forget about me after the baby is born. I mean, she’s already showing signs of it and the baby isn’t even here yet.

My mom was supposed to buy me a new furnace because the one I had was over twenty years old and was shot. Well, I found out she spent the money on a dresser and crib for the baby. So, now my mom will be in Florida this winter with no care if my furnace completely blows and I will be without heat. I feel like I’m not going to have a mother who gives a shit about me anymore; she’s going to forget she has another daughter after her grandbaby is born. I do not want to feel like this!!! Why do I? Please help!! Thank you. — Jealous Aunt-to-Be

Why do you feel this way, you ask. I suspect because you are spoiled, have a serious case of entitlement, and have trouble thinking beyond yourself and your needs. You don’t want to feel like this? Great! I suggest you start fostering some independence, for starters. That furnace of yours you were hoping your mother would replace? Buy a new one for yourself. Can’t afford one? Better figure out some ways to earn more money or cut back on expenses so you can. And if you live in a home that you can’t afford maintaining, perhaps you aren’t ready for homeownership and ought to sell your house and rent something until you are more financially independent. Renters don’t typically have to worry about replacing 20-year-old furnaces.

One way to feel better about not being with your mother for Thanksgiving is to consider volunteering somewhere. Volunteering for people who are less fortunate than you is a great way to expand your thoughts beyond your own needs and wants and to gain a little perspective. You could also organize a “friendsgiving” and invite friends, who are also away from their parents, to your home for a potluck meal. Or you could spend the day with your other parent — your father — who lives forty minutes away from you. Or you could fly down to Florida and spend the holiday with your mother and sister and newborn nephew, whom you might want to, you know, meet. Same goes for your birthday, if you really can’t stand the idea of not being with your mother.

Your mom is never going to stop loving you. But, yes, for a while, she’s probably going to feel a lot more excited about spending time with her brand new grandbaby and helping your sister adjust to new motherhood than buying a new furnace for her 32-year-old daughter. You are not going to be the center of her world or the sole focus of her attention, obviously. And while you are clearly uncomfortable with this notion — and uncomfortable with your discomfort — the time on your own that you’ll be forced to fill with something other than your mother’s unending devotion — is ultimately going to be good for you and will, hopefully, make you a better person. I encourage you to spend the next six months thinking about what you can do to make others feel loved and appreciated and how YOU can take care of yourself, make special occasions celebratory, and address financial needs without the immediate support of your parents, which you’ve, apparently, come to depend on.

Not everything is about you. Your sister’s baby-to-be isn’t about you. (Other than it making you an aunt). You will never be able to count on anyone giving you 100% of their attention. I hope you don’t even give yourself 100% of your attention, because there is more in this world to think about than simply you, and the more you begin to appreciate that — and appreciate the joy and enrichment focusing some of your attention on people and things outside yourself can bring, the happier you will ultimately be.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

36 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Adrienne October 13, 2016, 8:07 am

    1- WWS
    2- Is there a reason you can’t travel to Florida for Thanksgiving?
    3- I can’t even. Most of the time I try to find something to be nice about. Figure out what you’re insecure about. We’re the same age. I have one child and am thinking about #2. Your fears ands jealousy are literally what most parents worry about a toddler experiencing when the next baby comes along. Be an adult about this, not a toddler.

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  • avatar

    TheRascal October 13, 2016, 8:10 am

    WWS and also–Holy shit. Grow up, LW.

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  • avatar

    Elin October 13, 2016, 8:27 am

    Yikes, cut the cord. You can’t spend your birthday without your mommy? Don’t you have friends, a husband/boyfriend/partner you could go out with? It’s great to be close with your mom but holy crap, you don’t need to be the center of her world, you’re THIRTY TWO!

    And I was going to let it go, but I can’t. Your mom was going to buy you a furnace? Are you fucking kidding me? How spoiled and entitled can someone be? You’re THIRTY TWO! Buy your own god damned furnace. I mean are you serious? YOU’RE THIRTY FUCKING TWO.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 13, 2016, 8:35 am

    When you are 32 and you need a new furnace you buy it yourself. Twenty years isn’t very old for a furnace so maybe you should look into repairing it rather than replacing it.

    It sounds like your mom has been your best friend which has stunted you. You need to find your own friends. You need to be a good friend to make good friends. Friends won’t treat you like a baby like your mom has been doing. They won’t fork over the money for a furnace but they will treat you like an adult which your mom hasn’t been doing. See this as an opportunity to become the adult you should have been by now. It is an opportunity to assess your life and figure out what needs to change. You need to figure out how to be fully self-supporting because your mom won’t be able to buy you the big tickets items through your entire life, regardless of whether you have a nephew. It is time for your mom to let your grow up so thank your nephew for this opportunity. You have remained so dependent on your mom that it has stunted you both socially and financially.

    Your mom is spending one big holiday with your sister and one big holiday with you. That sounds fair. You’ve even gotten the bigger one. She will probably send you money or a gift for your birthday or you can celebrate early while she is visiting over Christmas.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom October 13, 2016, 8:38 am

    When you and your mom always do things together is your mom always the one paying?

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  • avatar

    dinoceros October 13, 2016, 8:57 am

    You sound like a 5-year-old when they have a hard time adapting to a new sibling. You also sound very selfish and entitled. FYI, most 30-somethings’ parents don’t buy them extremely expensive appliances or drop everything to see them on their birthday. Most adult children are expected to travel to see their parents for holidays. The relationship you are describing is one where your mother has been treating you like a child and you’ve been soaking it up.

    You are entirely accurate in that no one is going to care as much as you if your furnace stops working because it is YOUR furnace and YOUR responsibility to make sure you have heat. It’s called being an adult. There are people who started taking responsibility for their lives and homes when they were in their 20s.

    Frankly, you should be extremely embarrassed that you’ve never fully grown up and rely on your mother in this way.

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  • avatar

    RedRoverRedRover October 13, 2016, 9:05 am

    So you’re upset that your mom won’t be with you for Thanksgiving, but couldn’t care less that your mom won’t be with your sister for Christmas? Or with her new grandson, for the baby’s first Christmas? Are you really so selfish that you need every single holiday to yourself?

    And your birthday, come on. The last time I spent my birthday with my parents was when I was 17 and still living at home. The vast majority of adults don’t spend their birthdays with their parents, just FYI.

    It does suck that she told you she’d buy you a furnace and now she’s not. But like others have said, you shouldn’t have expected your mom to buy you a furnace in the first place. That’s something you need to be responsible for on your own.

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  • avatar

    Vathena October 13, 2016, 9:53 am

    LW, I have to give you some props for knowing that the way you’re feeling isn’t reasonable, enough to write into Wendy about it asking how to stop. And also to endure an earful from the commenters! The first step to fixing the problem is to recognize that it’s a problem. You seem to count on parental attention as your sole source of companionship and validation. Do you have friends in your area? Do you have hobbies? A job that will enable you to purchase your own furnace? I also can’t remember the last time I saw my mom on my birthday (I’m 36). I have to get on a plane if I want to see anyone in my family. Count yourself lucky that you have family nearby to see basically whenever you want. Thanksgiving and Christmas are just 2 out of 365 days. Your sister will not get to have her son’s grandma living nearby to just drop in for Sunday night dinners or help out with babysitting. It’s really hard to have a new baby, and it’s hard to raise children without family nearby to help. (I have a three-year-old daughter, and our nearest family is a 10-hour drive away. My daughter sees my mom maybe 3-4 times a year.) Your mom’s focus SHOULD be on the new baby, because you have been raised to adulthood already. Time to woman up.

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  • Fabelle

    Fabelle October 13, 2016, 10:05 am

    Re: the furnace, if you live in the U.S. there’s probably a state program available that’ll partially fund your purchase if you upgrade to something energy efficient… (that’s all the advice I got on this)

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  • juliecatharine

    Juliecatharine October 13, 2016, 10:05 am

    WWS 1000%. One note about volunteering on Thanksgiving/major holidays. That time of year many organizations are flooded with people wanting to volunteer for one special day. While the support is certainly appreciated, it would be a good idea to explore that option now as many places won’t have time to wrangle new volunteers for only one day. FWIW volunteering on a regular basis is a great way to build a network so you won’t be reliant on your mother come holidays and birthdays. I’m not going to pile on but it seems like you really need to branch out.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star October 13, 2016, 10:11 am

    Try leeching off your dad for awhile. He’s still in town, right?

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    • othy

      othy October 13, 2016, 10:33 am

      Bwhahahahah!

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  • avatar

    Emily October 13, 2016, 10:45 am

    Good lord. WWS. and what everyone else said too. I’m pretty sure I still borrowed money at times from my parents at 32 because we all need help some times but seriously cut the cord!

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  • avatar

    MiMi October 13, 2016, 11:06 am

    LW, this next little while with your mother away would be a great opportunity for you to work on healing yourself, hopefully with input from an empathetic licensed counselor. Just being told to get over it/yourself is not particularly helpful – what it sounds like is that you require outside validation to be okay and that is definitely something that needs correction. Constantly comparing and measuring the actions of others in order to know if you are loved or important enough is a terrible way to live – people will always disappoint you because it is really not their job to bolster your self-worth and self-esteem at all times. No one can fill a cracked vessel; you must learn to fill those cracks for yourself. Jealousy has nowhere to live when you are good/enough on your own.
    Having this distance from your mother will also be an opportunity to see about building or strengthening other relationships. We all need support and friendship and Mom won’t/can’t be there forever. Good luck!

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  • avatar

    for_cutie October 13, 2016, 11:11 am

    Wait, this letter is not a fake. I was so hoping it was fake…

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  • avatar

    ele4phant October 13, 2016, 11:21 am

    Look, I don’t want to rip into you too hard. It sounds like you have three decades in which the relationship with your mother has been set. And now it’s changing rapidly, and I can emphasize with how you feel abandoned all of a sudden.

    That said, you in your thirties. Your relationship should (and should have changed a long time ago) be less supporting parent – dependent child, to more of a relationship between two independent adults. You need to start taking care of yourself. You need to be financially self-supporting. You need to be *emotionally* self-supporting.

    You don’t need your mother to be with you to celebrate every holiday, every birthday, every bump in the road you have. Surely you will still hear from your mother on Thanksgiving, and your birthday, but you don’t need her to be physically with you.

    Start being a grown-up. Buy your own furnace, make your own birthday plans (or don’t celebrate at all, 33 isn’t a big deal). You can do it.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph October 13, 2016, 11:28 am

    Yeah as someone who lives 1000 miles from my parents (and my husbands parents, in a completely different part of the country), everything in this letter was just ridiculous. Last thanksgiving, did your sister do Thanksgiving alone? Or did she fly in from Florida? What about your sister’s last bday? Did she spend it with her parents? I bet not.
    Moving away from family sucks. It sucks that I travel to visit family several times a year and that it pretty much costs $1000 each time, just for plane tickets. It sucks I told my parents and grandparents and siblings and in laws that I was pregnant over the phone (oh, surprise DWers, I’m pregnant!) because I wasn’t going to see them for months afterwards.
    You have been lucky enough to have your parents nearby, close enough to visit for a random dinner, a random bday, and everything thanksgiving and christmas (or whatever your holiday of choice) without costly, stressful, awful air travel. And now for the first time in your entire adult life you will have to experience just a small fragment of what your sister has dealt with for years and you’re upset about it?
    I can’t come up with sympathy. Just grow up.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover October 13, 2016, 11:46 am

      Congrats SpaceySteph!!!

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy October 13, 2016, 11:59 am

      Way to bury the lede — congrats on the happy news!

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph October 13, 2016, 1:21 pm

        Hah, sorry. I was rage typing about all the ways it sucks to live 1000 miles from home and then I realized that I hadn’t told people that part yet, so there you go.

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    • avatar

      Anonymousse October 13, 2016, 12:09 pm

      Woo woo! Congrats! This baby will be out of this world!
      Ha ha.

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    • Portia

      Portia October 13, 2016, 12:54 pm

      Congrats!!!

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    • avatar

      Vathena October 13, 2016, 1:13 pm

      Congrats! Now we’re focusing all our attention on the new baby instead of the LW… haha! 🙂

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      • avatar

        SpaceySteph October 13, 2016, 1:20 pm

        Haha thats right! Poor LW, always getting upstaged by wombfruits.

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      • avatar

        Rava October 14, 2016, 2:13 am

        Whahahahahaha!

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph October 13, 2016, 1:23 pm

      Thanks for the love, all!

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    • avatar

      keyblade October 13, 2016, 9:12 pm

      Well-wishes and happy acclaim to you, SpaceySteph.

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  • Amanda

    Amanda October 13, 2016, 11:42 am

    You know what sucks? I’ll never, ever have another holiday with my dad. I would kill to be able to say “Oh, I won’t see him at Thanksgiving because he’s visiting my sister”. You have both of your parents who live within an hour of where you are. And, apparently, at least one can help you out financially. Not everyone has that luxury.

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  • avatar

    Caitlin October 13, 2016, 12:10 pm

    Yeah, not much sympathy. My brothers wife recently had my parents first grandchild and believe me he is the end all be all right now. How lucky is that little baby to have people who love her just for being her? I’ll be honest it’s sometimes hard on me to see how excited they are and knowing that, because i’m not able to have children, they will never have that with my kids. And how much i want a family, it stings, a little. I’ve been wondering if maybe there are underlying issues i should talk to someone (such as a therapist) about to sort out my feelings. But to be jealous of a baby??….

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    • avatar

      Ale October 13, 2016, 2:01 pm

      Do it. It’s always a good thing to talk to a therapist about your feelings.

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  • Portia

    Portia October 13, 2016, 1:08 pm

    I think Wendy and everyone else have done a pretty good job here, but to add a little bit – I understand that if you and your mom are close and you’ve never taken the steps to independence you probably should have before this, it’s not going to feel great to be not the center of attention. Heck, I watched old videos from when I was 4 and cringed when I saw how little-me was trying to leverage attention my baby sister was getting. But, as you seem to somewhat realize, and as everyone else is saying loud and clear, it’s beyond time to grow out of that stage. If after reading Wendy’s words you still can’t deal with these feelings, it may be time for a therapist who can talk you through this and help you set up adult relationships with your family.
    .
    Hopefully this forced reflection will help you find your independence in other ways, because it is sorely needed.

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  • avatar

    Lovelygirl October 13, 2016, 6:59 pm

    My sister had a baby 5 months ago and it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to our family. My mom spends a lot of time/money/energy on my sister and her baby and I’m actually quite thrilled that she has the opportunity to do so. My mom tried to buy me something right before or right after the baby was born and I thought she was crazy…she was trying to be “fair”. I told her that the baby is what matters now, and the next generation is what matters most. My sister pushed out a baby and gave her a grandchild. Fair went out the window! I love that my mom can help my sister. I was always jealous of attention/money spent on my sister but now that has melted away. I truly hope you can enjoy your nephew as much as I enjoy mine. I love spending time with him and I love that I am fortunate enough to be included in the daily photos/videos/updates. It has truly made my life more full and meaningful by being able to let go of the jealousy that has always plagued my relationship with my sister. We have always been jealous of each other until she announced her pregnancy. You realize the little stuff doesn’t matter anymore because another human being will need constant care and love from everyone.

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  • avatar

    Clementine October 14, 2016, 10:34 am

    LW, I’m just going to go ahead and project here. It sounds like you’re having a “but we’ve always done it this way” panic. I get it. It’s almost embarrassingly hard to deal with, especially in your thirties when you’ve had a good run without grandkids mixing things up and have depended on your relationship with your mom for emotional and financial support. If you come from a family that has very set traditions and habits, it’s alarming and unsettling when they’re disrupted, especially if they’ve so far been highly beneficial to you. And then it sucks to realize that the very real panic and abandonment you’re feeling aren’t rational adult responses to normal family changes, and I think that’s what you’re struggling with. I don’t have any advice other than to try to reframe your perspective; I just wanted to put out a sympathetic voice.

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  • avatar

    Scarlet A October 14, 2016, 3:37 pm

    LW, it sounds like you’re feeling some fear around a major change in your family structure. When my best friend (who is like a sister to me) was pregnant with her first child, I was happy for her but I was also afraid. I was afraid it would change our dynamic, and that she would leave me behind. I was afraid she would make a bunch of new mom friends and not need me anymore. I was afraid she’d be too busy to see me.

    It sounds like you’re suffering from similar fears around losing your mother’s attention and love. I reacted to my fear by throwing myself into being that baby’s best friend too, as well as doing everything within my power to make new motherhood easier on my friend. Did I have to do that, really, to make her keep loving me or valuing me as a friend? Probably not. But a couple years later I have an adorable 2.5 year old niece who thinks I’m the bee’s knees, a new 3 month old nephew who stops crying when I dance him around and goopily smiles at me (BFF’s 2nd!), and my friend and I are closer than ever. One of my most treasured possessions is her daughter’s birth announcement with a handwritten note that says “Thank you so much for EVERYTHING. All your lovely baby gifts, all the Thursday lunches, the endless patience with my baby rants and just generally keeping me from being a harried baby hermit.”

    So LW, my advice to you is to throw yourself into the same whirlwind as your mother and sister right now. Yes, no one will be focused on you for a while, but there’s something bonding about coming together toward a mutual purpose – in this case in appreciation and love for your new nephew. Go to Florida, if you can. If you can’t, ask your mom for updates and pictures, ask to FaceTime with the baby, send a nice gift for both the new baby and your sister. Make the most of your mom time at Christmas, and try not to weary of the grandkid talk (think of all the times your mom has shared YOUR excitement about something). Focus all your energy on being an amazing sister, daughter and auntie during this time, and I promise you will reap what you sow a thousand-fold.

    It may feel a little creaky at first. When my friend handed me my new baby niece, I looked at this little stranger and didn’t feel much of anything. I remember looking into her thousand-yard, suspicious stare and thinking “Alright baby. I’m going to be your friend.” Now it’s time for you to be your mom, sister and nephew’s friend; believe me, they’ll need you. Good luck!

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  • avatar

    Boosker October 15, 2016, 9:30 am

    As a 32 year old who had to pay over 10 grand for an entirely new HVAC system, the entitlement of an adult getting her parents to pay for her home repairs does make me a little ragey (and also jealous, if I’m being honest. Like you certainly shouldn’t expect your parents to do that, but I doubt many of us would turn that kind of help down if offered and your parents had money to spare).
    *
    But I do get the totally unreasonable but real feeling of no longer having your mom’s attention anymore. I’m the one who had the babies, and when I’d show up to my mom’s with her grandchildren, she literally wouldn’t even acknowledge me, just grab the babies and start smooching. And I totally get it, I’m not as cute and smooshy (well, kinda but not adorably smooshy) as my babies are and my mom has always been a lover of littles. I did make a joke one time about her elbowing me out of the way to get to her grandbabies, and since then she’s made a point (sometimes a little sarcastically) to hug me too when she sees me.
    *
    This is all to say that expect to get pushed aside, be ready for it, joke about it if you need to, but also recognize that this is a big, big deal for your mom, and everyone in the family is gaining from having this new baby join it. Focus more on what you’re gaining (a new niece/nephew that you can give attention to) rather than the attention from your mom that you’ll have to share (which seems to be happening later than it should be, but it’s never too late to work on building those independence skillz).

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  • avatar

    greenapples January 13, 2017, 3:45 pm

    I *almost* have to wonder if this post could have been written by my sister?

    My daughter is 8 now and although it’s ‘better’, I still feel the same vibe. O.o

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