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Polite way of dealing with this? AIBU?

(29 Posts)
squizita Mon 07-Jul-14 12:23:27

Bit of an 'etiquette' question.
I've posted about this before, but I have one acquaintance who I'm finding hard to talk to since I've been pregnant.
Basically I am one of the last of my friends to have a baby, some have high school kids, some babies/toddlers (we're mid 30s). As a result I get a lot of really good advice, and a few 'sleepless night' jokes.

Except one friend (she has 1 child, of primary school age), who is something else.Whatever I say, even non-pregnancy-related, immediately it's turned round to pregnancy and how I won't cope/will be a shadow of my former self and that's the only way motherhood is. So basically after you have a kid you will be unattractive, disorganised, you'll never hold down a job again (and if you do it will be a little hobby/distraction) ... to say anything otherwise means you're like a teenager with no idea of parenthood. And I'm a bit hmm because ... my boss with a kid... nope, managers with kids don't exist? My 'TOWIE' style mate with 2 kids ... nope, you can't have glamour and kids in your life? My SAHM mate who reads all sorts of literature and does proper arty-art stuff ... nope you can't have brains and kids? I feel worried for me and angry for them IYSWIM. She must be projecting or generalising, but I also feel bad for feeling bad as I haven't had my baby yet- so am I being unmaternal for being bothered?

Like I'll post on Facebook something as bland and non-baby-related as a special offer on some naice biscuits in Lidl and immediately she'll 'remind' me we'll be dirt poor forever once PFB arrives, no biscuits for us (hopefully not, I know money will be tight but we've saved and DH has a good job) and of course I'll be fat to boot. Like I'd never considered kids were expensive.

But how do I express that this is upsetting me and I find it rather rude about all my mum friends as well (who, SAHM or working-outside-mum, are all great, attractive, intelligent women IMO) when I haven't had a child yet?
Because of course then she will just point out I haven't had a kid yet.

hotfuzzra Mon 07-Jul-14 12:33:37

Personally I'd want to tell her to eff off and stop bringing me down! She doesn't sound very nice or supportive.
Alternatively you could do passive aggressive - 'I'm sorry you feel so bad about motherhood. Have you talked to someone about how you feel?'
I think realistically I'd reply to a FB comment with something snippy but funny like 'If my life is half as bad as you keep making out the only thing going for me will be a packet of Lidl biscuits. Don't take my life away from me!!' Something so she can see you're not being rude but are also saying leave me alone.
Or unfriend her if that's possible!

stargirl1701 Mon 07-Jul-14 12:35:09

Seems to me she's projecting. She doesn't sound like she's coping at all.

candi404 Mon 07-Jul-14 12:43:39

I had exactly the same with a 'friend' of mine. She was even going to my other friends saying how there must be something wrong because my bump was bigger then most. Therefore my placenta was lying the wrong way and my baby will come out distressed. (My bump is measuring a week bigger) Then giving me all the 'advice' she thought I needed. I eventually had enough. The next time something 'helpful' came out her mouth I just replied 'everyone thinks they're a expert and rolled my eyes. I obviously hit a nerve as I was then deleted off Facebook and we haven't spoken since. I am so much happier smile just remember. This is YOUR pregnancy. YOUR life and YOUR child. Never let anyone make you feel less and enjoy your time. You'll never get it back wink

RedToothBrush Mon 07-Jul-14 12:47:09

Just smile at her pityingly, touch her hand and say "Thank you for letting me know, its helped me look into what options I have if I do find things difficult."

And just get rid of her on FB.

JacktheLab Mon 07-Jul-14 13:13:09

Rather than deleteing her on fb you can always hide her for a while? Sounds like she has some issues but not fair to be spoiling things for you

squizita Mon 07-Jul-14 13:36:11

Thanks everyone. smile I think hiding her for a while might be a good way forward (and perhaps only meeting in a group, so if the conversation gets down, there will be others to bring in some positives!). smile

JennyBlueWren Mon 07-Jul-14 14:09:52

Can empathise with you on this!
My DH is getting this from a close friend he confided in. He's now worrying he'll never be allowed out of the house again, do anything fun or buy anything for himself. We're realistic about the costs and have savings and have looked at how we'll manage budgeting but worry now that he's being given a really negative view of fatherhood.
I think if anyone started getting to me I'd burst into tears!

doobledootch Mon 07-Jul-14 14:15:27

I really don't think anything she says is about you. I would suspect that she is very unhappy about something, either hide her as suggested, or maybe just say, you are being very negative about my pregnancy, I just wondered if everything is ok with you?

There could be 1001 reasons for this so I won't speculate, but I do know when I was massively struggling with two very young children I would warn people off too small an age gap, I feel a bit embarrassed about this now and am back to making happy appropriate comments.

nyldn Mon 07-Jul-14 14:23:21

If you're very close, you might want to privately say something to her along the lines of you being excited for the challenges of motherhood and how you're going be making every effort to keep pre-baby important things in your life and maybe suggest that it sounds like she might be having a rough time and ask if she needs to talk about it? Maybe you guys can make a plan to do a nice non-baby thing together regularly, like as small as a mani, to pull her out of her funk? I agree though, it sounds annoying to have to constantly deal with the Debbie downer while you're excited and it's all ahead of you. Do you know if she's getting enough support from her partner at home? The hiding her on fb bright be necessary for a bit...

UML Mon 07-Jul-14 14:29:16

She may be having a hard time, but I think there is no harm in calling her to task on it in a firm but gentle manner?

Like just say when I said this you said this and give her a few quotes of hers and say that you appreciate that side of things but that she is going too far and it's becoming really negative...

Then ask if she is ok, because she is making all these comments and is she having difficulties at the moment? Ask if she wants to chat over a cuppa..

You'll know what to do next according to how she reacts! She can deny everything and then make it look like it's you (and then you can consider how to let of this friend) of maybe she will realise she has gone too far and appreciate a chat...

MaryWestmacott Mon 07-Jul-14 14:37:22

Oh, I've met woman like this, when you're on maternity leave and a group are discussing childcare and returning to work, they'll say things like "oh [baby name] is my job now, I couldn't possibly leave him/her." or "you're going to find it impossible to leave them." when actually, lots of woman do fine.

They are the woman who claim they are overweight with school aged DC later because of "baby weight" that you "can't lose" .

She's projecting, she's found motherhood changed her life dramatically and she didn't cope/have a baby that slotted into her old life.

Nod and smile, then say "one of the advantages of having children later in life is I've got lots of differrent examples around me, friends who've children a few years ago, some have managed to keep careers going with barely a blip, some have gone in a completely different direction, but generally, there's no reason to suppose my life with children will be exactly like yours or theirs, perhaps somewhere in the middle."

weebairn Mon 07-Jul-14 14:39:15

I had some friends like this. It was irritating and exhausting, and, not in the least true. We remain friends but I did have to disengage for a bit and do some selective listening.

e.g., I had one friend tell me "enjoy it while you can, you won't be doing that much soon" darkly to me whilst I was larking about in the park pregnant with my first. Funnily enough with a baby and on maternity leave you can GO TO THE PARK ALL THE TIME. It's not like I was necking vodka in a club! And yes, the birth horror stories, the sleepless nights, the competitive martyrdom…

It is true your life is not the same again (well my oldest is only 1 and half so I am looking forward to having more life at some point!) but I managed to
-get back to running a 5k
-do other regular exercise
-do some hiking
-take up sewing
-eat & cook properly
-have parties at my flat, go to parties
-have mates over to stay, go to mate's houses with and without baby
-go out for meals, both lunches with the baby and dinners with the boyfriend once baby was a little older
-go out with my mates (not very often)
-etc etc

in the first year, that's not to say anyone should have to do any of the above but I wanted to and did (with lots of help and support from boyfriend and mum). And I looked much the same as ever after a year, and I went back to work, and I have a tough career-job (I do it part time now). Yes I also had plenty of days where I didn't get dressed, wept for hours on end, and had sick all down me, but it wasn't my sole existence.

It may be that your friend is having a hard time, or she may just be the sort of person who likes whinging about having kids. There's not much you can do about it except ignore it, and remember how annoying it was when your friends get pregnant after you have a baby and be really positive for them!

You are absolutely not non-maternal for caring about things other than your baby. I think that's very healthy.

Lozmatoz Mon 07-Jul-14 15:45:20

Say something like "wow, it sounds like you've really struggled since having your child" or be blatant and say "do you have anything positive to say?" or really brutal like "yeah, you're right, I should just get rid of it now before my life is ruined".

Sorry, maybe not appropriate but I've dealt with comments like this before and it really bugs me too. Maybe just being honest and telling her you're finding her comments upsetting and unsupportive. It is hard being a mum, the hardest thing I've ever done, but it's the most wonderful thing too.

Good luck, enjoy every minute.

squizita Mon 07-Jul-14 16:14:06

I do suspect she is having a tough time with various things, and has had some relationship issues (not really close enough to pry IYSWIM). Might just keep my distance rather than saying anything - come to think of it the worst thing I could say is "well workfriend just got promoted with a 4 year old and a 2 year old!" if for example she can't find work...

BeckaH123 Mon 07-Jul-14 16:16:15

Hi OP

I get similar comments from someone too but it is more to do with childbirth and pregnancy and how it ruins your life basically! I know this person isn't 100% happy though and she isn't a super close friend or anything, so I tend to laugh it off.

I agree with PPs, your friend sounds really unhappy and is probably just lashing out because you aren't unhappy too. Try not to let her drag you down. Maybe she needs a friendly ear if she's having a difficult time.

squizita Mon 07-Jul-14 16:19:40

Weebairn gosh I hope I'm as together as you! smile

And I agree with some others, being 30-something-with-mortage means I hardly live the wild clubbing lifestyle and have an inkling of the things you can/cannot do with PFB... social life wise, our local is a food pub with soft play and our socialising is round people's houses or out for a pizza. So although life will change dramatically I don't think I will be weeping at everyone else's wild nights in Ibiza, simply because I am a bit older and have been the 'aunty' at Sunday BBQs etc' for a good few years, so now will be one of the mums - gulp!

hannahlucyellen Mon 07-Jul-14 16:20:59

I'm glad other people get this as well! I was incredibly sporty before pregnancy, and mothers love telling me I'll never run/bike again, I'll never lose the baby weight (I'm 37 weeks and I've put on 10 kg) and I'll never want to return to work. In fact men at work are the worst "Oh you think you're only having 6 months off now, just wait till the baby arrives, you'll change your mind" I don't pry into their life decisions and tell them how it's going to be!
I hadn't considered it was projection on their part, you raise a good point!

Hi Squizita. I think this is to do with unhappiness on your friend's part, but I can see why it would drive you nuts, and I don't think it's any excuse for being aggressively negative.

I haven't had this around pregnancy (TTC right now), but you get exactly the same thing from some people about marriage! 'Oh, you'll stop having sex, you'll fight all the time, you'll get fat, ha ha ha . . .'

Well, no actually. Just because that happens in some relationships doesn't mean it's going to happen in mine!

I'd probably deal with it by taking her DEADLY SERIOUSLY - put on a properly concerned face and say, 'Oh dear, I'm so sorry. Is that what's happened for you? Do you want to talk about it?' Then hope she doesn't take you up on it.

kickassangel Mon 07-Jul-14 16:53:58

I found some people seemed to relish the misery I was bound to experience. It was like they just couldn't wait to laugh at my expense and rubbed their hands with glee at the prospect of future disasters.

I think that pregnancy just gives people an excuse to show whether they are likely to support you or laugh at you. I know plenty of people who are kind and caring no matter how much stress they're experiencing. Other will dance on your grave with no good excuse.

Just ignore ignore ignore and enjoy your first child. I found early motherhood a stroll in the park btw, so it isn't all doom and gloom.

magpiegin Mon 07-Jul-14 17:01:31

My husband's best friend is like this and it is because he is unhappy with his life. It does drive me bonkers through but I try and ignore!

MaryWestmacott Mon 07-Jul-14 19:12:01

It's also worth thinking about what their pre-baby lifestyle was like compared to yours.

Eg, we bought our house when I was 7 months pregnant with dc1, and had been saving like mad, so although our income dropped by approx £1.5k a month (mat pay then going back pt and childcare costs), we'd been saving more than that a month towards the house deposit, so it didn't actually feel like my lifestyle dropped, but if I'd been a "designer handbags, weekly spa visits, spending to the limit" type, then that might have hurt.

If you are older, then you've probably given up the clubbing until 5am weekends and if your other friends mostly have dcs, then your social life is more likely to be "parent friendly" (ie, dinner out, meeting after normal toddler bedtimes, back before midnight, fitting in fine with baby sitters!)

Also in your 30s, you are more likely to return to work because you are more likely to be in a position where you will make a profit after childcare costs. Plus you are more likely to be valuable to your employer, so they are more likely to give you/your DH flexible arrangements to make drop off and pick ups work.

My childfree 30/40-something friends do go out more often, but their nights out are similar to mine, they have posher holidays, and tidier homes, and nicer handbags, but other than that, it's not that noticeable that their lives are dramatically different to mine. (Other than going to the cinema more, it always feels like a waste to pay for a baby sitter to just sit in the dark, watching a film, not chatting to DH, so we've not been together for years!)

weebairn Mon 07-Jul-14 19:19:50

I hope I didn't sound like I was boasting sad I just… my work is really hard and god I relished that year off! Even with post baby body and feeling a bit shell shocked after labour. I tried to focus on the positives and held my baby every time she wanted me to, we were a team. When you have a shit night you can lie in bed all day with the baby if you want! I read about a million books while breastfeeding, it was great.

I also had really good support which I am very very lucky to have. My boyfriend works minutes from our flat and was home every lunchtime practically, he's around a lot and his job (unlike mine) is pretty low-stress and we shared the childcare very equally from day one. My mum stayed with me a lot. THat's what made things possible for me.

Different things are important to different people … some of my mates still go out clubbing,drinking etc a lot after babies, was barely my scene before having her, so I don't do that (house parties with wine and in bed by midnight occasionally!) My exercise was really important to me and I just loved not being pregnant and being able to do it again (very slowly at first!)

Going back to work was really really tough, not gonna lie. But after 6 months or so, it was ok.

Overall having a newborn is lovely. Tough but lovely.

Now PREGNANCY, that's something to whinge about wink

squizita Mon 07-Jul-14 22:38:15

Wee not at all! smile

Mary her lifestyle wasn't very wild - but she has that quite "I must be seen to be middle class suburban" thing IYSWIM, so she might well really feel the pinch (Very Kirsty Allsopp "modern vintage" ... M&S, Waitrose, White Company, Cath Kidston, gastro-pubs, handcrafted wooden stuff)- whereas I don't I will never make a housewife - I shop where the offers are, keep my house clean enough but not designer, live in a respectable but by no means posh area and am basically a cheaper date and you can kind of tell by looking at me (e.g. she wears Monsoon and that kind of thing is important to her, I wear band t-shirts and denim) so I wonder if the thinks I'm actually wilder than I actually am? grin The thing is she does go out and drink quite a lot even but is clear that because it's in winebars and gastro pubs it's somehow different? Yes, I do wonder whether she is trying to reach an expectation of 'Homes & Antiques' on too little time/money and that's why she feels that way?

MaryWestmacott Tue 08-Jul-14 09:50:54

ah, yes, I've noticed before in most walks of life, people who live to the limits of their income just assume everyone else does the same, so if you aren't obviously spending as much as them, they assume you must earn vastly less, not that you could have a similar income but cheaper tastes- meaning that you'd find the drop of income (be it because you give up work, or return to work and have to pay for childcare) easier to swallow.

It could also be if where she lives, she's met lots of mums like her, with similar tastes etc, she assumes that you'll have to change to fit in, rather than find other friends closer to your way of living.

It does sound a little like she's convinced you have a very different lifestyle to the one you really do!

There are many different ways to parent, no 2 mothers have the same experience. Don't beat yourself up if you aren't the glamorous type of mum, or if you find it hard to fit in reating books and doing arty thing, or if you find you can't juggle work and children and want to be a SAHM, but don't assume you can't do this sort of thing anymore because you're a mother.

Oh and you'll definately still have biscuits once you have a baby.

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