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A problem with my longstanding CHILDFREE friend. Need some perspective - sorry it is very long

(48 Posts)
QuintessentialShadow Tue 02-Sep-08 10:00:23

We were group of 4 girls, we have known eachother since primary school, and have grown up together in the same neighbourhood.
3 of us have two children each. Our single friend made a decision at the age of 18 that she should never be with a boy again and regretted the two (rather innocent) relationships she'd had alrady. She is a stritcly no wine, no boys kind of girl. We are 36.

We had a few years where we were not as close the four of us together, as we were in different classes in secondary and high school. We still hung out, but maybe more two and two, in any event, for the last 15 years we have met up regularly. Me not so much because I lived in London, but all four of us would arrange meetups when I was home, and I would for sure see my childfree friend.

It used to bother me a little that she is so unflexible regards to family life and children, but I did not see her often enough to really see the extent of it. Now that I live here, I can see it more clearly. She was always feuding with one of other girls, about the upbringing of her son, about her chosing to spend time with her husband and kids on the weekend, not having energy to go out in the evening, etc.

Being single and childfree, she has lots of good ideas for things we could do together, that did not suit the rest of us due to work, nursery/school pick up times, meals for the children. Such as rushing the kids from nursery to go for long walks to look at the snow and the moon, and why cook them a meal, can they not eat a sandwich while walking. Or, go to a picnic on the beach, at 7 pm, in the middle of the week, because that is when she has finnished work, and it suits her to meet up, and we should be more flexible because it doesnt hurt the kids to go to bed late. Of course she has no clue what it involves to rush the children out from nursery, home, change, prepare a picnic, get dressed again, and then go out.

We would be happy to all met up at somebodys home, cook a simple tea together and let the adults chat while the kids were playing together, usually in a playroom upstairs. Plenty of opportunity for adult conversation. But, she did not like this, as it was boring. We should get out more. What is the fun in having everyday food at home. So, it has become rather strained. We have tried to come with her on all these interesting outings, but after a long day in nursery/school, the kids are not really up for it, and we are knackered after work. Our friend finnishes work and the fun just starts.

So now, we try to meet up without the kids. And it is not that often we are all able to get our dhs to stay home with the kids on the same day, to meet up with her. But now the problem is, that the moment the conversation turns to the children, our childfree friend starts to sulk, as she cant contribute, and then she leaves.

At the beginning of the summer, just after I moved here, I rang her and asked if she had plans. SHe didnt. I asked her if she wanted to for a walk with me, the weather was lovely and my dh was putting the kids to sleep tonight, so I could come to hers and we could go from there. I was just about to leave when my dh got a work related call, the proverbial shit had hit the fan, and he to take his laptop off somewhere quiet and try sort a problem. I called my friend and told her this, and said dh would know within the next 20 minutes if the problem was solved and I could go, or if I had to stay in. She was rather curt, and said, ok call me then. When the 20 minutes were up, and my dh still had problems, and the kids were still awake, I called her and apologised profoundly but could not make it. She literally blew a fuse:

Did I realize I had ruined her entire evening? She had been sitting here doing nothing thinking she was meeting me, all the things she could have done if it wasnt for me. etc. And I had no respect for her whatsoever if I could do such a thing. I said to her "look, I am really sorry, I had no idea that would happen, I called you because I had a free evening, and wanted to meet you. "

I have not contacted her since, aside from a text on her birthday. A few days after that disastous non-walk, I met up with the other girls for a trek up the mountain after the kids bedtiem (our single friend had been invited but declined) They told me she had been on the phone to them rubbishing me and how terrible I was for not leaving the kids to fall asleep alone and unsupervised when I had made PLANS with her. (they are 6 and 3) And why was my dhs work problem more important than his wifes leisure??? I thought, in that case, better not to make plans with her, because I am not going to put myself through such stresses and being abused over the phone if something comes in between.

So, we met her for dinner at a friends house on saturday. Conversation was flowing until she put me on the spot saying "so, how are you, my friend who has cut herself out of my life" I was so shocked I did not know what to say, but conversation moved on so I just ingnored it. Our single friend went quiet, excused herself and left.

On the one hand, I can really do without all of this. On the other, she is just her. All she has is her friends. But, if we should be so flexible, what about her? She is expecting all sorts of flexibility from us, condemning us for not having a lacksadaisycal attitude, commenting on our parenting knowing better than us, because she has ANOTHER friend who hitchhiked throuogh Africa with a baby, and were putting herslef first, and so should we.

I know I should call her. I just dont know what to say.

Cappuccino Tue 02-Sep-08 10:06:42

okay I have read it but I am a bit bleary

the first thing that strikes me is why hasn't this woman made new friends? You change and grow as you get older, and she has made a decision to lead a free and independent life, so why is she hanging around with people with three kids. THREE! I mean it's hardly like you have the odd one. Your lives have gone in completely different directions but she just isn't letting go.

I have a friend who decided to be childfree and in the end we didn't have much in common. Not just because of the child/childfree element, but in a bigger way, and I think that what we decided to do with our lives reflected that. I haven't seen her for years, though I did send her an email once after seeing her at a christening a few years ago saying I know we don't see each other now, and we've changed and grown apart, but I just wanted to know you were always the best fun, and I have really good memories of our friendship. It was nice, it ended nicely. It ended.

There is no use going on with friendships that aren't working in this way. She has no respect for your way of life and if you carry on like this you will have no respect for her.

If I were you I'd just say look, our lives are very different now, and we are interested in doing different things, and it has been lovely knowing you but I am very busy with what I am doing and I don't want to stop you doing the things you want to do

and then cut her off

really. She needs to get some friends of her own

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 02-Sep-08 10:09:30

Message withdrawn

BlingLovin Tue 02-Sep-08 10:09:38

Oh dear, this sounds difficult. I don't have kids yet, but try very hard not to be this person. Clearly she knows that you understand why she's upset, but does she have any idea why you're upset? It doesn't sound like she's made an effort at all? And to be fair, maybe you need to help her to see it? Maybe you're assuming that she will understand but actually she genuinely doesn't have a clue? I see this all the time in that with my other child-free friends, they often seem to have a really strange idea of what parents do with their children and have no imagination to see what it really entails.

if it was me, I'd call her, explain to her calmy why I feel that she is being unfair, give her the opportunity to listen to me and then, if she still continues to expect me to drop my family for her, then I'd have to tell her that I simply can't do that and try hard to move on. Not so easy, I know.

cece Tue 02-Sep-08 10:10:03

I agree. She needs to get some more friends who want to do and are able to do the same things as she does. TBH I wouldn't be surprised that she is jealous.

tokentotty Tue 02-Sep-08 10:13:32

does she have friends outside of your original 'group of four' ?

mangolassi Tue 02-Sep-08 10:13:50

She sounds incredibly childish, tbh... would you feel comfortable explaining to her that you have enough kids already and need adults for your friends?

Sorry not helpful!

mangolassi Tue 02-Sep-08 10:15:16

Can you say to her that you still want to be her friend, but that your children will always come first, that's not going to change, and she needs to decide whether she can accept a friendship with you on that basis?

QuintessentialShadow Tue 02-Sep-08 10:15:40

When we were younger, she had plenty of friends. But one by one they have married, and have kids. The single friends she has are very young. She also doesnt drink any alcohol, so she is not on the bar and club scene either. She has no colleagues either, as she is the regional rep of a Charity. Her mum died a few years ago, and she is looking after her aging dad, and battling her much older siblings who seems to be eying up "dads fortune". It is not so easy to move on.

She is a beautiful girl, good job, intelligent, good values, I just dont get why she would chose single life, yet keep being with us boring old farts!

sagacious Tue 02-Sep-08 10:15:58

She sounds totally self obsessed.
What are you getting out of the friendship?

Ok you have shared history but friendship can (and has to) evolve.

If her friends are so important to her I would say its now her turn for some give, she's had far too much take.

islandofsodor Tue 02-Sep-08 10:16:02

Reagardless of the children issue that is just selfish behaviour on her part.

Anyone can have a family or work emergency. Suppose it had been her work which had called her, or her mother, or yours. Any situation which necessiated a change of plans.

If youhad not gone out with her because you felt like stopping in instead on a whim then she has a right to feel miffed but in life, regardless of someones situation things happen that mean plans have to sometimes be re-arranged.

This is othing to do with her not having children, but she seems to wants everyone to run around her, regardless of anything else.

Lazarou Tue 02-Sep-08 10:16:20

I just wouldn't call her again. She sounds like an idiot.

bellabelly Tue 02-Sep-08 10:17:31

Sounds like she is being very childish and quite the drama queen - she could easily have come over to yours for a chat over a bottle of wine or whatever on that evening. And she didn't change her plans - she had a FREE evening. I think she is enjoying playing the suffering martyr to be honest. Ignore it and try to move on, ie, don't deliberately exclude her from meet-ups but don't be surprised if she continues to be sulky etc - sounds like she's quite unhappy to be honest - maybe regretting the life she has chosen?

islandofsodor Tue 02-Sep-08 10:17:38

I wrote my post before your second which said her mother has died.

GooseyLoosey Tue 02-Sep-08 10:20:24

If you want her to continue to be your friend then I think that you do need to call her as she has made it clear that she thinks you are avoiding her.

I would say that I was sorry things had gone cool between us and I still wanted to be friends and leave it at that - no explanations or demands as I think in this case they would be pointless.

However, I do think that she is only prepared to be friends on her terms and if you do not want that then I would move on with life without a backward glance - making it clear to the other 2 girls that you would love to hear from her if she wanted to get in touch.

QuintessentialShadow Tue 02-Sep-08 10:20:37

When I had to cancel going for a walk with her, I asked if she wanted to come down here instead. She declined. She knows that I am home most evenings, if she wants a chat, and a cup of tea, or even an evening meal, all she has to do is call! I have said it seems to be more important to go out to a coffee bar in the evening, than to have a conversation. There has been so many times I have had so say "look I have nobody to mind the kids come down here instead" if she has called and asked if I wanted to go out with her, and her reply has always been "no, I fancied to go out, not sitting in, that I can do at home". hmm

mrsruffallo Tue 02-Sep-08 10:21:40

She sounds quite immature and over sensitive.
Lives change and and grow, and isn't friendship about making each other happy?
I don't see why you shouldn't be allowed to talk about your children when you are around her, they are a big part of your life.

Sadly, some friendships just run their course.
I don't think you have done anyhing wrong here

Cappuccino Tue 02-Sep-08 10:21:50

if she wants to go out, she is looking to be among people

the woman needs a bloody hobby

Cappuccino Tue 02-Sep-08 10:22:21

and if she doesn't want to come to your house and talk to you, then screw her, tbh

GooseyLoosey Tue 02-Sep-08 10:22:32

Do you actually want her as a friend though?

QuintessentialShadow Tue 02-Sep-08 10:22:54

Cappucino, she has one. She is refurbishing an old wooden fishing boat. On her own. <sigh> I think she is despeately lonely.

mrsruffallo Tue 02-Sep-08 10:23:00

Straight to the point Lazarou! LOL

Elasticwoman Tue 02-Sep-08 10:23:35

Why should you call her?

I'd say, least said, soonest mended.

You do not have to justify yourself further. You and I and probably a lot of others who have read your post know that your childless friend is in the wrong about this. Maybe she knows this now, maybe the realisation will hit her when the dust settles, maybe she genuinely thinks it is all right to go out and leave a 3 and 6 yo unsupervised. If she sounds off about you to others, she will probably hoist herself by her own petard.

QuintessentialShadow Tue 02-Sep-08 10:25:08

I am not sure anymore. There are so many restrictions. Cant talk to her about the kids, she goes blank, cant talk to her about my dh, she just wrinkles her nose. All I can do without any recrimination is listen to her and talk about what she feels like talking about. She seems to be blatantly uninterested in what others do or think, unless she is judgemental....

Maybe it is good to just give it a rest.

Doodle2U Tue 02-Sep-08 10:25:09

The problem with childless, single friends is they have too much time to think and (over) analyse everything. They also have no idea how tricky a simple outing becomes with small children. They think they do, but they don't.

I think this is going to get easier when you've got children around the 8+ mark - an evening walk becomes perfectly doable as does bed times etc, so if DH get's caught with a work problem, he can solve it and the kids can take themselves off to bed.

Stay in touch with her as best you can with one eye on the time when it will become much easier to socialise with her.

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