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Childless Friend to a new mum

(27 Posts)
ChildlessFriend Tue 18-Feb-14 12:52:52

Ok so I have found a lot of stuff on the millions of internet forums from new mums explaining that their single/childless friends are pushing them away; but in my case I think it's the other way round. I suppose I am here to ask if anyone experienced this before they had kids?

I visit my friend whenever I can (but this is never enough) and try to include her in things (in advance) whenever possible. I work full time through the week and also have a weekend job to make ends meet so the only time I catch glimpses of the baby is when either he is just about to be put to bed and very grumpy or he is already asleep.

My friend has told me she is very upset that I do not have a bond with her very young baby. I don't know what to do about it. Thing is I am not exactly comfortable with babies and not particularly maternal. Like I look at a baby and it cries. I have an irrational fear that I might drop the baby and therefore I think babies sense this and hate me. Also the sheer fact that when I am not at work the baby is asleep.

My uncomfortableness with babies was well known to my friend, so I don't know why she thought this was going to change when she had one. I love kids, just not so keen on babies.

She has said that I am not being the type of friend she wants and because we are so different now and we are drifting apart due to this. I absolutely don't understand what it is like to be a parent and therefore cannot relate to what she is going through, but surely mums can have friends that not have kids/not overly comfortable with babies? Does it make me a bad friend that I cannot pick her baby up and comfort him?

I am so upset that she is pushing me away like this; like she is concentrating on our differences and basically dooming our long term friendship to failure.

I really need honest solutions/opinions because I am literally lost for ideas on where to go from here.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 18-Feb-14 12:59:51

Your friend is being a baby bore and has moved the goalposts and I'm sorry. She's making the mistake of thinking that being her friend means you have to be as ga-ga about her baby as she is.... rather than liking you for you. Utterly daft to expect you to 'bond' hmm FWIW When I was a new mum I absolutely loved being with my then childless best mate because I could think/talk about anything but babies for a while.

She may come back round when the novelty wears off. Best of luck

ChildlessFriend Tue 18-Feb-14 13:27:37

Thank you so much for replying - but where do I go from here? Do I just leave her to realise this on her own? Because if she doesn't then she will just end up hating me and will definitely be the end of our friendship.

Thank you for the perspective and making me think that I am not going completely insane.

DarlingGrace Tue 18-Feb-14 13:30:22

Your friend is the one who has changed the parameters of the relationship you have.

We have different friends for different periods of our lives, sometimes they overlap and sometimes they don't.

I'd let her drift for a while. Give it a few months when she wants to go out, she might be vaguely normal again!

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 18-Feb-14 13:32:09

Talk on the phone maybe or whatever you normally do but, as the PP says, leave her to it. If she 'hates' you because you aren't dotty about her baby, she's not really much of a friend.

EATmum Tue 18-Feb-14 13:37:51

Being right and maintaining this friendship may not be the same thing here. Sounds like your friend has become incredibly focused on her baby, forgetting all else in the world that has value. This will pass - but in the meantime you need to find a peace if you value her. Would it be possible for you to take a half day off work maybe, and suggest coming over to see her and taking the baby for a couple hours so that she can have a nap/bath/relax. As a new (sleep-deprived) mum she would be very grateful I'm sure for the offer (even if she didn't take it up), and if she did take it up, it'd give you the chance to get to know this baby without someone looking on. It's much easier to work out how to hold them, how to interact with them etc if you don't have an audience, especially one that is clearly quite pressured and maybe after some sleep she'll be a bit more reasonable. Just a suggestion.
Otherwise tell her exactly how you feel, and ask her to remember that you have years of friendship behind you and in front of you that don't involve babies. Good luck. She'll probably look back on this time with some mortification in the future!

Offred Tue 18-Feb-14 13:38:16

She can go gaga over her baby if she likes but she shouldn't be expecting you to and it isn't a test of friendship. Some people are just better with babies than others.

I think you should let the friendship slide a bit. You can't live up to her demands and they aren't reasonable anyway.

Jan45 Tue 18-Feb-14 13:43:37

Ridiculous that a friend who is now a mum expects you to have the same feelings and emotions as she does for her baby, your relationship is with her not a baby and it shouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to a friendship if you are not a baby person, lots of us aren't!

Don't let her guilt trip you for the person you are, she's not appreciating or valuing you at all here, are you sure she's not suffering the baby blues and is taking it out on you?

Lottapianos Tue 18-Feb-14 13:44:47

I think your friend is being very unfair on you OP. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not liking babies, or not feeling comfortable around babies. You're not obligated to fall in love with her baby. She sounds like one of those mums who thinks she is the first woman to ever give birth - a 'baby bore' as Cogito says.

I'm really sorry, this must be very hurtful for you. Next time she mentions it, could you gently remind her again that you're not hugely comfortable with babies, but you still love seeing her and spending time with her? Maybe arrange to take her out for coffee/lunch/whatever just the two of you for a good catch up?

ChildlessFriend Tue 18-Feb-14 13:49:33

Thank you EATmum; those are some really good suggestions - but the problem I have is because I was (stupidly) honest about not being comfortable with babies, when questioned as to why I do not have a bond with her baby. This has now left me in a position where I asked her to maybe teach me how to do things such as hold him/feed him etc and she shot the offer down instantly because I am only doing it to keep the peace with her and not because I actually want to bond with her baby (I'm paraphrasing but you get the idea).

ChildlessFriend Tue 18-Feb-14 13:53:21

Thank you to everyone that has commented thus far and I really appreciate your viewpoints.

It really means a lot that there are mum's out there that can see where I am coming from!

Lottapianos Tue 18-Feb-14 13:53:21

Sounds like you can't do right for doing wrong OP! I think you have been very sensitive and accommodating with your friend. If I were you, I would stop bending over backwards for her. It sounds like she wants you to be someone you're not. Again, there is NOTHING wrong with not liking babies or not feeling comfortable around them. Nothing whatsoever. If you were a man, no-one would bat an eyelid at you saying that you're not a baby person.

Offred Tue 18-Feb-14 13:57:33

Everyone is different. I loved having small singletons (not the twins - too hard) and didn't like when people tried to dictate what my feelings should be about them I.e. That I should be desperate to get away from them. In this case it is her who is dictating what you should feel in this situation and I don't think you should pander to it.

ChildlessFriend Tue 18-Feb-14 13:58:04

Thank you Lottapianos, the thing is she was not a baby person before she had hers and it's something that we used to agree on massively!

ChildlessFriend Tue 18-Feb-14 14:00:12

Jan45, your comment regarding baby blues struck home with me - although at the moment anything I say/do is wrong so I don't even know how I would begin to brooch that subject

Offred Tue 18-Feb-14 14:01:33

Doesn't matter how either of you feel about babies really now or in the past. It matters that however she feels she thinks that unless you feel the same you aren't being a good friend. That's not on. You should be able to feel differently from her and she should respect that.

As I say I was on the loving the small baby and never wanting to be away from it side. I think she's out of order and agree you can't win.

It can be frustrating when childless friends don't understand and accommodate some of the changes motherhood brings but it sounds like you are making a big effort with understanding things from her perspective and accommodating the new restrictions on her life.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 18-Feb-14 14:01:58

Hell hath no evangelical like a reformed atheist...

I don't know how old the baby is so I'm going to be charitable and put her odd behaviour down to the fatigue and emotional upheaval that new motherhood can involve. But if there was no baby in this picture... if it was a puppy she'd bought and was expecting a non-dog-person to dote on.... then her behaviour would be quite unreasonable and rather bullying.

Jan45 Tue 18-Feb-14 14:06:03

I think your friend is definitely in the wrong but perhaps she is a bit depressed or feeling like she's lost her `single` life and you are a reminder of that, she maybe even feels a bit jealous of your freedom. Until you have a heart to heart, you just don't know.

Offred Tue 18-Feb-14 14:06:52

Oh god cog that reminds me of my MIL's sister who insists everyone must love her dog as much as she does. Tried to bring it into our holiday cottage full of breakables and with a no dogs rule and the whole family thought I was mental for thinking it could wait in the car while she had a coffee and that it didn't need to come in somewhere that wasn't our home and where it wasn't allowed. Was hilarious when once she took it off it's lead it immediately made a bid for freedom!!!

ChildlessFriend Tue 18-Feb-14 14:14:49

I am so surprised at the really positive response I have got from this thread. I really did wonder if I should post this, or would I just receive a load of responses telling me I wasn't a good friend because 'you don't understand until it happens to you' etc. But no it seems that it is not just me that thinks my friend is being unfair.

Cog you have literally hit the nail on the head regarding the reformed atheist comparison - oh my goodness I have never thought about it that way before.

ThinkFirst Tue 18-Feb-14 16:06:31

Her priorities have changed, and it's understandable that she wants you to be a part of her new babies life, however, she can't expect you to bond with her son especially when she knows how you feel about babies. She changed, but she had months to bond with him even before he was born, and he's part of her, she can't expect you to suddenly change your opinion too just because she had a baby.

Expecting you to visit loads when you work all hours is unreasonable too. Have you asked her exactly what it is she wants from you, and explained why sometimes that's just not possible?

How much do you want to save this friendship? Have you tried sitting and holding him a few times to help with the fear that you might drop him? Maybe she just needs to see you make an effort. If you really are unable to "bond" with her baby then you might have to accept that this friendship has run its course as you both want different things now. While sad, it's not uncommon when people go through life changing events and find they are no longer compatible.

RunLikeSomeFeckersChasing Tue 18-Feb-14 16:23:35

I have two children of my own and the only other person whose small baby I had a bond with is my DSis (not my 6 nieces and nephews on DHs side, they are all older than my DC). What I am trying to demonstrate is that you are far from unusual and she is being very unreasonable.

Helltotheno Tue 18-Feb-14 16:24:01

OP I think she's setting up a situation that will make it impossible for you to continue the friendship; in other words, I think she wants to dump you as a friend because you're not 'in the club' or whatever, doesn't have the moral courage to do it, and is instead doing it this way.

You don't have to bond with her or anyone else's baby (beyond normal social politeness etc), your friendship is with her. Why not just tell her that and say that you'll give her some space to enjoy motherhood for a while and see how she feels in about ten years after some time has passed?

rainbowsmiles Tue 18-Feb-14 16:32:21

Wow. I have never come across this. Was your friend high maintenance before the baby came along.

I have a best friend and a sister who are like you. What does it matter? Do you think it's because she was hoping you'd do a bit of baby sitting? It never bothered me at all. My sister is quite open about it, like you, she prefers when they are a bit older and my kids love her. My best friend would be so awkward with them, you know the I AM HOLDING A BABY NOBODY MOVE A MUSCLE type hold. She has never once baby sat, taken them for a day out, nothing. But she buys them brilliant presents. And she is my best friend not my kids.

If she wasn't a mean girl before the baby then maybe she is struggling and disappointed that you haven't been able to help her out.

Oh and I love babies. Honestly I am baby mad but I get that fear of dropping whenever I'm holding someone else's baby for the first time.

ChildlessFriend Tue 18-Feb-14 16:50:16

Thinkfirst thanks for your reply - I have held him a few times - the obligatory " AM HOLDING A BABY NOBODY MOVE A MUSCLE type hold" as outlined by rainbowsmiles lol, but he just screams with anyone other than her.

I have asked her more times than I care to remember about what exactly it is that I am doing so wrong. There were reasons previous to this - like I was leaving her out, I never go and see her etc, but this is the most recent one.

I think she thinks I am living this crazy, fun, spontaneous life without her and intentionally leaving her behind, but it couldn't be further from the truth. I am overworked and burnt out and I could do with some understanding from her. But she just cannot see it from my perspective.

Helltotheno I have often wondered if that was the plan, I would understand that happening if we were young, but we are both nearly 30. I suppose 'in-crowds' never really go away though do they.

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