After Fiona became pregnant, she quit her job and is now a stay-at-home mom. We used to hang out every couple of months before her pregnancy. Now that she is a mom, we have seen each other four or five times over the past year. I adore her daughter; however, for the past five times that Fiona and I have met, her daughter is with her every time, making it challenging for us to catch up. I feel for my friend – all her attention is on her baby, and our conversation is understandably, yet constantly, interrupted by the baby’s needs. I feel like even though we spend a few hours together to “catch up,” we never get to talk about each other and the conversation seems always about the baby.
I’ve suggested Fiona leave her daughter with her husband for a few hours and we go do something together. Apparently, her husband is not so much a hands-on dad and does not feel confident to spend time alone with the baby. I also do not initiate get-togethers with Fiona as I know how overwhelming her life must be. But Fiona is the one who initiates the meet-up/catch-up each time, and, obviously, she brings her daughter with her each time.
I’d like one-on-one time with her once in a while, but, since it is unlikely given her situation, do I tell her honestly how I feel or should I just suck it up and hang out with her and her daughter every single time or should I gently reject her invitation to hang out until her baby is a little older? — Missing One-on-One Time With My New Mom Friend
So many things that make me go “hmmm…” in this letter. Let’s go down the list, shall we?
1. You say you used to hang out every couple of months before your friend’s pregnancy, but in the last year you’ve seen each other five times, implying that there’s been a shift in the amount of times you see each other. “Every couple of months” is six times a year, which is practically the same as five times a year, so…
2. If you aren’t able to “catch up” over the few hours that you see your friend every couple of months, why don’t you keep in touch between visits with occasional phone calls, texts, emails, or whatever you have time and energy for?
3. Fiona’s husband does not feel “confident” enough to be alone with his one-year-old child? That’s one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever heard. Ever! But… who knows if it’s even true? Maybe he feels completely confident being alone with his child but his wife is such a neurotic control freak that she won’t hand him the reins, even for a couple of hours. Maybe he’s behaved in a way that troubles Fiona and now Fiona is afraid to leave the baby with him unsupervised. You have no idea what might really be going on — and, for the record, a close friend telling you that her husband cannot be left alone with their child is a serious red flag worthy of inspection — because you never actually talk with her anymore about anything other than maybe what the baby is eating and whatever new trick she’s just learned. As a friend, you need to probe a little and see how she truly is doing, because being married to someone you can’t leave your baby with is weird as fuck.
4. Can she leave the baby with him after the baby goes to sleep? Most babies who are over a year old sleep through the night pretty consistently — or at least for several hours at a time. She could get the baby down by, like, 7:30, and spend a few hours with you in peace. You could even come to her house after the baby is asleep. Why has that never happened? That seems like such an obvious way to re-connect with your friend without being disrupted constantly by baby, baby, baby. Hell, you could even go over on a Saturday afternoon while the baby is napping and have lunch together. You could bring the lunch on your way.
5. It kind of sucks of you that your friend had a baby and you 100% stopped inviting her to do stuff. Imagine how rejected she must feel. She’s gone through this huge life change and her friend sort of disappeared. Unless she reaches out to you, of course. And you’re not reaching out because you know how overwhelming her life must be? I don’t buy that. Really? She’s a stay-at-home mom to a single child. How overwhelming is that? Is she also working from home? Running a small business you didn’t mention? Going to night school? I mean, I don’t want to downplay how exhausting being a stay-at-home mom is; it’s a lot of work and can be very tedious and sometimes boring and isolating (all the more reason to maintain friendships!) but unless there’s something unusual going on — the baby has special needs, maybe? Or, you know, her husband is a nut job — being a stay-at-home mom to a 1-year-old isn’t really overwhelming. If anything, it might actually be a little underwhelming. Call your friend. Invite her out after she gets her baby to sleep. Or ask if you can bring her take-out and have dinner at her place after she gets her baby down (and preferably on a night her husband is working late or out avoiding his family, which I bet he does a lot).
6. Hell, no, don’t tell Fiona how you “honestly” feel — that you are sick of her baby always being around when you want to have some adult catch-up time. Be a damn friend and check in with her. See what’s really going on, because what you’ve described — all of it — is worrisome. If she’s giving you some indication that she’s so overwhelmed she can’t even handle a phone call from a friend, and she’s telling you she can’t leave her child alone with her husband, then something is really wrong here. Maybe it’s all in her head (in which case, there’s treatment!), or maybe her husband is abusive or something like that (in which case, she needs support!), or maybe there’s something else altogether. But you’re her friend — so probe a little and find out what that something might be. This is bigger than you just wanting to chill with your friend. This is about finding out why your friend doesn’t seem to be able to chill.
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