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“Fiona” and I have been friends since freshman year of college, and we have been close for more than a decade. About a year ago, Fiona got married and gave birth to a lovely baby girl, whom I adore. I am thrilled for her new life. However, as she transitions into a new mom, I’ve realized that our friendship has gone downhill.

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

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I’m a recent college graduate who, like the vast majority of my generation, has found herself living at home while trying to save up enough to move out. I live in a large house with my sister, her two young children, and my aging parents. I have three other siblings older than I am. My two brothers live in the area and my oldest sister lives out of state.

My problem is the somewhat “uneven” distribution of household chores. I find myself spending an upwards of four or more hours a day before and after work cleaning up after my sister’s children, taking care of her dogs, and trying to get as much yard work done as possible. Every morning before work I clean up after my nephews’ breakfast, walk the three dogs, water the yard and perform a number of other daily household chores. My sister never seems to be able to clean up after herself or her children. I understand that she is a single mother who has recently gone through a lot, and that can be a tremendous struggle in and of itself, but more often then not she has her friend come over and help her watch the kids or hang out with her as she watches me mop the floors or sweep up Cheerios her children leave around the house. I think that during the time she has another set of eyes on her children, she could at least bother with sharing some of the household’s burdens. It’s a sensitive matter because, every time I even try to mention it, she becomes upset and shouts that I’m calling her a bad mother.

My two brothers are always “offering” to help me out more, but, when push comes to shove, they never seem to be able to make it. On days when they’ve promised and failed to show up because “something came up,” I’ll often see that they’ve posted photos of themselves on Facebook of themselves relaxing at some lake or out with friends. A lot of the work I need help with requires heavy lifting and, strong as I may be, I’m not physically able to do it on my own and really could use their help. They both have good-paying jobs and the means and time to help, but they never seem to make the time. I mean, for shit’s sake, my one brother works in landscaping and has easy access to lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and all of the other tools I need to use to get the outside in order. I’ve been using an old rusted push mower for months now because we don’t have an automatic one at the house.

My parents are old and not in the best of health, so I know they won’t be able to help out — nor should they be expected to when they have five able-bodied children, two of whom live at home and two of whom live within a few minutes’ drive.

To make matters worse, my oldest brother, “Kevin,” stops around the house frequently to go jogging through the neighborhood, do laundry, or even just “borrow” food. I’ve begged him to take the larger of the three dogs running with him but he never has. I walk the larger of the three dogs twice a day, about two miles around the track each time and then I have to come back and walk the two smaller dogs. Rinse lather repeat twice a day every day. I pay for all of the dogs’ medical and daily expenses, and I’m the only one who walks the dogs even though they aren’t even mine! To make things even MORE irritating, often when Kevin comes over he jokes about how “neglected” the dogs and the house are. I do everything in my power and beyond to make sure these dogs are well taken care of! Even when I’m worn out from work, mopping, dusting, taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, changing the cat box (oh yeah, there are two cats involved here), sorting my nephews’ toys, and sweeping the floors, those dogs get walked and played with. I’m a big animal rights activist and I would never sit by and let the dogs or cats go unattended to. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night thinking the animals were left wanting. I know he’s only joking, but it still hurts. He gets to spend all of his free time doing what he enjoys and spending time with his girlfriend, but I can’t even find the time to see my boyfriend or practice my creative endeavors like music — which I went to college for.

I don’t make much money where I am now and I’m still willing to shell out as much as needed for cleaning supplies, dog supplies, and anything else. A few weeks ago I read something Kevin posted on Facebook about how “ridiculous” his parents home is, and I broke out in tears. It’s one thing to share a private joke with family, it’s another to post it on the internet for the world to see, and none of it was true anyway. My mother called him and tried to talk to him about it and he even left me a voicemail later with a half-hearted apology, but he and my other brother have yet to show up to help me with even some of the chores. Am I being taken advantage of here or am I being self-absorbed and jealous over my siblings’ freedom? What can I do to to elevate some of the strain? — “Tired of being Cinderella”

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breatheneon

The world seems to be falling apart, but instead of focusing on this week’s news — especially “Brexit” and what it means for all of us — I’m going to think instead of the ripples of positivity set in motion over the past few days. We got to see Jackson graduate from pre-k earlier this week in the sweetest little heart-warming ceremony at his school. I was prepared to cry, but I actually didn’t shed a tear. Instead, I’m mostly excited to see him growing more independent and looking forward to summer camp and kindergarten and all the new friends he’ll make at both and the new things he’ll learn. It’s true what they say about parenthood — the days are so, so long (so long!), but the years are short — and watching Jackson reach such a big milestone is a nice reward for the hard work we’ve put in thus far. And it was heartening to share that moment with lots of other families we’ve come to know over the last couple years. The sense of community that comes along with raising kids in a small, tight-knit neighborhood is really nice (I know it seems weird to think of a NYC neighborhood that way if you don’t live here yourself, but the neighborhoods really do feel small-townish, like Sesame Street), especially when the rest of the world — and life, really — can seem so unstable and a little frightening.

Anyway, before I sign off for the weekend, I wanted to alert you to the the annual Summer tag sale at Athropologie. Here are a few of my picks of the sale items (some marked up to 50% off):

Ruffle-Neck Tank

I love this pretty spoon rest.

Curved Crescent Hoop Earrings.

Embroidered Gauze Jumpsuit

This mix-and-match bikini (so many colors and patterns!).

These are the dishes we’ve had for a couple years and always get compliments on.

Merewen Peasant Top

and I ordered this cute top for myself (I hope it fits!).

(These are all affiliate links, so I make a commission on click-through and purchases. Thanks for your support, and happy shopping!).

That’s all from here. I hope wherever you are and however your week went, that you have a wonderful weekend with at least pockets of peace and moments of feeling part of a community. It’s those things that keep us sane in the midst of so much chaos around us…

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Sophia Foster-Dimino for The New York Times

Here are a few things from around the web that may interest you:

Sheryl Sandberg on the Myth of the Catty Woman

And here’s a different take on the same topic: Why Women (Sometimes) Don’t Help Other Women

Everyone’s talking about this most insufferable wedding announcement in The New York Times this week.

The Brock Turner Family Support Facebook Page is probably the most disturbing thing you’ll read all week.

How Fighting With Your Spouse Affects Your Body

Ugh: The Disturbing, Everyday Encounters Women Face On Public Transportation. Nine women share their stories of #CommutingWhileFemale.

Study shows that women’s level of body confidence is depressingly low.

Related, sort of: Mom Hair: It Exists. Now What to Do About It.

Related: No, I’m Not Ashamed That I Have Mom Hair

Thank you to those who submitted links for me to include. If you see something around the web you think DW readers would appreciate, please send me a link to wendy@dearwendy.com and, if it’s a fit, I’ll include it in Friday’s round-up. Thanks!

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

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I am a gay Irish man and have been dating my Mexican boyfriend for the last five months. He is twentyyears my junior at 31 and it is going really really well — the age difference isn’t a problem, the intimacy is perfect, and we are so comfortable in each other’s company. He even told me recently that he is falling in love with me. But a couple of days ago I went to the cinema with him and his female best friend. He was sitting in the middle seat with her sitting to the left and me to the right. During the film he started rubbing my knee which he usually does in the cinema and then I glanced to his left and saw that he was doing the exact same thing to her knee, too. I immediately froze and pulled away slightly. He asked me what was wrong, and I just said I was watching the movie.

He brought the subject up the following day and said she was like a sister to him and he isn’t attracted to women. I said I didn’t feel comfortable with his touching other people in the same way he shows affection for me. He said it was normal for him to do that with some of his female friends and I had nothing to worry about. I trust him implicitly, but maybe she harbors feelings for him. She has a boyfriend, but they are having problems in the bedroom because he is not fulfilling her sexually. Do I have anything to worry about or is it just a cultural thing? — Irish-Mexican

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