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AIBU - told friend it isn't my fault she can't cope with her brood

(80 Posts)
EspressoMonkey Wed 26-Jun-13 10:46:44

We live abroad and have two DCs, 3 and 1. I would like more but feel at the moment that 2 is our lot. We have no family support and my DH works long hours and spends a lot of time out of the country.

I am friends with another expat mum who has 3 DC, aged 4, 2 and 1 and she is pregnant with her 4th. She struggles to cope and so doesn't take her DCs out by herself. I often help her with her DCS when we are out and about at the park, zoo etc. I do it whenever possible and have been happy to do so.

Last week we all went to the outdoor pool. It was a hot day and we agreed to meet outside the pool complex at a certain time. We were on time but my friend and her DCs were 35 mins late, thus my DCs and myself stood outside in the heat waiting for them. We did this as we have membership which gives my friend a discount on her admission.

When she arrived her DCs were not ready for the pool, but mine already had sun lotion and swim suits on. My DCs are hot and bothered because we were waiting around so we went straight in and i said to my friend "see you in the pool when you are all ready".

I had my hands full in the pool, DC2 is not very steady on her feet and so was holding both my hands. DC1 found the water cold and was a bit apprehensive. Another friend's DC waded over to us and chatted to us and played so i felt as if i had the responsibility of three DCs. I was coping but it was not relaxed.

Then there was a bit of commotion at the other end of the pool, splashing etc. The pool was very busy, there were plenty of mums and dads in there with free hands. I briefly glanced over at the commotion but then another DC splashed my eldest in the face, who then started crying. Her friend then hit this other DC and i had to break up a squabble, speaking a mixture of English and French so all parties understood. It was hectic.

A while later my friend joined us in the pool. She was very off with me and asked why i hadn't helped her 2YO DD when he was struggling in the pool? Then i realised that the commotion was her DD struggling in the water. I apologised but said that i didn't know that the child who was splashing about was her DD, i had my hands full at the time plus there were lots of parents in the pool with free hands who helped her out anyway. What i didn't say was that your DCs are your responsibility and you never asked me to be responsible for your DD. I didn't even know she was in the pool!

My friend then made a big deal about how she can't come to the pool without adult help as she can't cope and that i KNOW that etc. I had enough of her using me as free childcare and snapped back that "it isn't my fault you can't cope". I was hot, and bit ratty because yet again we had been standing around waiting for them. My youngest DC is now mobile and needs my help more than ever. My hands are pretty full as it is. I will help her as much as i can but my DCs come first from now on. We didn't have a third DC as i feel i wouldn't cope. My friend will shortly have four DCs under 4.

AIBU and how do i get our friendship back on track without being her unpaid childminder again?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Wed 26-Jun-13 10:50:06

I'm not sure that you can.

I have an acquaintance like this, she has three DC and is pregnant with a fourth. She is always trying to palm them off here there and everywhere and rope others in to do school runs and all sorts. I never organise anything with her now, because I know that I will end up running around after 5 children (her three and two of my own) while she sits on her arse.

YANBU. Two small DC, two hands. I would struggle with more than that, especially in water. She is being VU to expect you to mind your own DC and then some of hers as well. She must have known it would be difficult to take 3 young DC swimming?

ChasedByBees Wed 26-Jun-13 10:52:36

YANBU but I can't see how you'll get the friendship back on track. She expects help and you're not able to provide it which is a recipe for resentment on both sides. It was rude of her to be late and irresponsible to let her 2 yr old in the pool alone (or with inadequate supervision).

WhataSook Wed 26-Jun-13 10:55:19

YANBU. This would irk me beyond belief! I have one DC, DH would like three...he's dreaming! I find one is easy enough but will be waiting unti she is a bit older so that I'm not in the same situation as your friend.

But it's a bit bloody rude expecting you to co-parent!

Crowler Wed 26-Jun-13 10:55:31

I'm afraid I wouldn't have much sympathy for someone who was struggling with a self-imposed burden and expected help from someone else who is also struggling, but less so.

She must have know this was not going to be a breezy afternoon. I'm getting stressed out just thinking about it.

WhataSook Wed 26-Jun-13 10:55:50


MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Wed 26-Jun-13 10:56:19

You were not unreasonable

I did think this was going to be a dig a big families but she was definitely the one in the wrong. I have 6dc and would never expect other people to take responsibility for them

Apart from anything else she sounds rude and like she's using you, I'd avoid her and make nicer friends who appreciate your company

Groovee Wed 26-Jun-13 10:56:19

I'm not sure you can get it back on track. She probably took what you said very personally and it could build a lot of resentment.

Dh's SIL couldn't cope with her 2 children when they were young. She just didn't know how to interact with them and would often blame my children for their behaviour. It resulted in us not talking and wanting nothing to do with her ever again.

LazyMonkeyButler Wed 26-Jun-13 10:57:05

She allowed her 2 year old into a swimming pool without even telling you she was there? confused And somehow you are the one in the wrong? shock

YANBU. I'm not good at juggling more than 2 young children at any one time either - which is part of the reason we have a 10 year age gap between DC2 & DC3! grin

I'm all for people having as many DC as they want, but only if they can cope with them.

AuntieStella Wed 26-Jun-13 10:57:10


I think that, if you want to maintain this friendship, you will have to be abundantly clear that you find your hands are full with your DCs (especially a newly mobile one) and you cannot supervise extra children in areas with hazards such as a pool. You'll happily meet up in areas where supervision can be looser (her house/garden?), but your main effort will be with your DC2 until secure on her feet.

Crowler Wed 26-Jun-13 10:57:13

Also, the pool! What a nightmare! There's no assuming anything, kids that age can drown in seconds and no one would even notice.

Eyesunderarock Wed 26-Jun-13 10:57:51

Go the whole hog and tell her that she needs paid help, like an au pair or a nanny.

EspressoMonkey Wed 26-Jun-13 10:58:16

Looks like our friendship will naturally tail off then. Can i get her to see she is BU? Our eldest DCs get along well, so i feel it would be a shame to let the friendship slide though.

Wheresmycaffeinedrip Wed 26-Jun-13 11:02:25

Yanbu. How on earth can you watch her kids when u don't even know she was there. It's not your fault at all and she's being ridiculous.

Not sure how you would get back on track to be honest. If she can't cope with three she won't cope with four and that's not your fault either.

Crowler Wed 26-Jun-13 11:02:29

"I can't imagine how hard it must be for you to manage 3 kids, because I can barely manage 2 at times. I hope you can understand that I feel pretty overwhelmed as well. I'm sure we'll look back at this time and wonder how we got through it!".

Which is true. Mine are a bit older now and I'm genuinely shocked we all made it out alive.

LifeofPo Wed 26-Jun-13 11:03:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ZenGardener Wed 26-Jun-13 11:03:28

Do you have gardens where you are? How about organizing a paddling pool and some bubbles in the garden and inviting them over? That's what I do in the summer with my brood and it is so much easier. The big pool is really hard work with three little ones of different ages especially when crowded in the summer.

ZenGardener Wed 26-Jun-13 11:05:16

We even used to do the paddling pool thing on the balcony when we lived in the city. Summers got extremely hot where we were.

LadyInDisguise Wed 26-Jun-13 11:05:39

I am actually surprised that the pool is happy for her to come along with 3 dcs 4yo and under. That wouldn't be allowed here for the reasons you give. You just can't look after them properly on your own....

I confused as to why she thinks it's OK for you to look after 3 dcs, one of which isn't yours and at the same time, it's OK for her to say it's too much?

Eyesunderarock Wed 26-Jun-13 11:06:08

Do you like her and enjoy her company as an individual, or is it just that you've fallen into this relationship because you are expats with similar-aged children?

EspressoMonkey Wed 26-Jun-13 11:08:19

We actually have our own swimming pool but i avoid pool playdates at all costs and try to avoid any playdates at our home. Our pool is an adult pool and so the water is deep and very dangerous. If a mum takes their DC to the loo i can be left with 4 DCs to take care of, which is stupid. I prefer playdates out of the house, particularly with this family who have caused quite a bit if damage at our house (but that is another AIBU story)

WildlingPrincess Wed 26-Jun-13 11:08:40

YANBU! I had a friend like this. She's was always ranting and moaning she couldn't go out, no-one would have them, she never had any money, her life was soooo hard. Don't have 4 bloody kids under 5 then!

Crowler Wed 26-Jun-13 11:09:20

Your friend sounds like a piece of work.

EspressoMonkey Wed 26-Jun-13 11:09:38

eyes you have hit the nail on the head. Time to make some new friends i think

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