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HAPPILY EVA ANSWERS: Best Friends 4-Over

Eva Amurri answers questions in her Happily Eva Answers column

*This blog post was originally published on September 13th, 2015. It has been updated with new formatting, images, and links.

Dear Eva,

 

I am a 31-year-old first-time Mommy. My daughter will be one at the end of this month and she is my world! Conceiving her was a dream come true, as my husband and I battled infertility for 2.5 years. She came to us after 3 IVF cycles and 2 miscarriages. My heart is so full and she is the best thing I have ever done with my life. While I couldn’t be happier as a new Mom and having just celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary, my heart is struggling on the friendship end of things.

 

Through everything I have gone through in my adult life, the highs and lows of my relationship, getting married, my surgeries, pregnancy and birth- my best friend was there for me. She is like a sister to me, and the last 10 years with her by my side were so wonderful. Not a day went by that we didn’t chat or text one another at the least. Once my baby girl arrived, things changed, however.

 

Life got a bit more complicated and my priorities changed. She got a new job and started a strict gym regimen. I became busy with my baby– lunch dates turned into mommy and me classes and play dates. She and I visited each other respectively when we could, I’d even invite her over for dinner after work as it was easier for me when my baby girl was younger and not the best sleeper.

 

My friend and I had just celebrated our birthdays together in June with a lunch date and the following week, she blindsided me with a screeching halt to our friendship. All of this happened over text of course, and she insisted we have “grown apart” and said it’s best we “work on ourselves”. Needles to say, I cried, was frustrated, and left confused. I understand some of where she is coming from, and then I don’t. I don’t see how she thinks “time apart” is best, when we already saw each other so much less since our lives changed. She never communicated any of her feelings to me before this, and certainly not in person.

 

I don’t know what to do. While I have friends who are couples (my BFF has never dated) and I enjoy hanging out with them and new mommy friends, I miss my best friend. I tried to talk to her and she just decided to leave our relationship behind and doesn’t care to so much as chat.  We haven’t spoken in a couple of months, and my husband keeps telling me I should try and call her again. Should I let it go? Looking back, I could have perhaps made more of an effort, but I do feel like I was the only one making an effort to get together. I have close friends who understand my position as a new mom and never held my time away from them against me. People change, I know I have grown immensely as a person over the last few years. Seasons do change after all…

 

Thank you,

 

Ms. Best Friends 4-Over

 

Dear Ms. Best Friends 4-Over,

I would like to begin by saying how incredibly happy I am for you and your husband that you have overcome so much to be a family!  I can’t imagine how difficult your journey must have been for you both, but I can practically feel through the computer screen how truly overjoyed you are to finally be a Mother–and your joy is infectious!  I also am sorry that the entire picture of your life post-baby is not living up to everything you would have hoped–especially when it comes to the reaction of somebody so close to you.

I want to first reassure you that you are not alone in facing this predicament.  In a post-baby world in which we are balancing so much, many new mothers find their friendships to be the first things that get placed on the back-burner amid the chaos!  Especially the friendships with individuals who do not have children of their own.  It’s really challenging to balance it all, and even more challenging to try to fit a new baby directly into the same exact lifestyle you were living before he/she arrived.  I’ll take that back–it’s impossible.  I personally feel that this “new normal” is a natural and important progression of life–and while I wholeheartedly advocate maintaining a balanced and dynamic lifestyle as a parent, I also admit to the CHANGE that is necessary in a post-baby world.  It’s OK for your priorities to shift, and it’s OK to want new and different things as a parent than you ever did before.  Don’t fight that!  Over time as your child gets older, and you get more used to parenting, a more inclusive day-to-day balance will emerge.   Right now, I understand why socializing with a group of other parents could feel more grounding and useful to you than, say, paying for a babysitter for two hours so you can meet a girlfriend for lunch once a week.   The difficulty obviously comes when a friend (who has not yet experienced this post-baby shift herself) begins to feel neglected.

I respect your admission that you “could have perhaps made more of an effort“, but I really don’t think that’s what’s going on here.  I see your former best friend’s position as one of two things.  You mentioned that your friend has never dated, which I find to be extremely interesting.  One of my takes on this situation is that your friend had been using your friendship as her emotional home base the way that most people use their partner.  And while I don’t view this as healthy, or fair to you, I can understand why her feelings would be hurt by your attention shifting away from her.  You are not her partner, however, and this attachment is misguided.  Secondly, it is possible that your new family (which you so deeply cherish) may simply be reminding her of what she does not have, and she doesn’t at this moment have the emotional tools to separate her feelings about herself from her feelings about you.  In either of these cases, however, she has put herself in direct competition with…A BABY.  And to her I say, Sweetheart, it’s time to put your Big Girl panties on!

I have always said that the big events in life can really show you the true colors of the people you surround yourself with.  I have always, ALWAYS been surprised by the people who came out of the woodwork to save the day during life’s darkest moments, or others who disappointed at my most cherished celebrations.  During my wedding, for example, there were unexpected individuals who came through for me in such moving ways, while others who I expected to be there for me fell so short.  All I can tell you is this:  When somebody shows you who they are, BELIEVE THEM!  After you had been trying for so long (and experiencing so much heartbreak) in your journey towards becoming a Mother, I would have hoped that this person would be able to process what a joyful “switch in priorities” starting a family has been for you!  You seem to be mourning the loss of this friendship, but more so it seems that you are mourning the loss of the friend you thought you had.

I know this woman has meant a lot to you over the years, however, and for that reason, I will give you this course of action:

Write one last swansong.  Send her a letter, preferably via email, and tell her how much your friendship has meant to you over the years.  Tell her how deeply it hurt your feelings the way that she handled your last interaction, and tell her that your wish is for her to be a part of your life in some way (make sure you put that part last).  I promise that you will feel better knowing you left everything on the table.  And she may eventually respond to this declaration of care–but I cannot promise that when she comes back around you will be ready to take her in!

I wish you all the best,

 

xoxo,

 

EA

 

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Photographs by Julia Dags | Copyright © 2021 Happily Eva After, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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7 Comments

  1. Alisha says:

    I love this response. Something similar happened to me pre baby. It was so sudden and unexpected. I still to this day think about reaching out to my friend. However, my thought is our lives just went in two different directions. Maybe one day they will meet up again

    09.13.15 Reply
  2. Joanna says:

    This was so incredibly helpful and such an important subject for new moms! Thank you for sharing your wisdom, it is very insightful.

    09.13.15 Reply
  3. Carolina says:

    Great advice. I think we all can relate to this situation a bit. Really enjoyed reading.

    09.14.15 Reply
  4. Sheresa says:

    I myself come from the other side of this story. I’m 31 years old and while a lot of my friends are married with children, I myself am not. I’ve experienced this “growing apart” with one of my own very best friends. Although I have never cut ties with her entirely I remember vividly the shift in our friendship when she had her first baby. Really what it comes down to is a change in life experiences and direction. While she is worried about well child check ups and healthy meals at home, I’m trying to figure out if I want to change careers or plan a big travel vacation. Our friendship has definitely changed since then (her oldest son is almost 4) we’ve found a new balance that works where I get to be kind of like the cool aunt.
    Maybe your friend will come around, but maybe she won’t but either way things definitely won’t be the same. For me the balance lies in the fact that I have another best friend that I spend a lot of time with who is also unmarried and un-mommed. Hopefully it all works out in the end.

    09.15.15 Reply
  5. Courtney says:

    Good advice. I went through the same thing after my twins were born. I ended up writing this particular friend I was having issues with an email. It was hard. But sometimes you just need to get things out there. I tried to be as positive as possible. I still love and cherish the friend I ‘broke up’ with. I felt a huge weight off my shoulders once things were said and done.
    Wish you the best!

    09.20.15 Reply
  6. Jules says:

    Even without children this can occur. I had a friend who was extremely dear to my heart but I felt that my friendship and my contributions to it were not valued. It got to a point where I was really hurting. I drew a line and ended the friendship. My friend did not respond much that I remember. But it liberated me. I had given so much and the inner balance was not working anymore. I felt I was doing all the giving.
    Ten years later she sought me out again. And it turned out that at the time we both were parents to little girls very close in age.
    We picked up our friendship again and are extremely close now.
    I am happy with what I did. I had worked so hard for that friendship and was really hurting that everything was only one sided. I respected my feelings by walking away, after having tried everything else.
    Sometimes you do meet again later in life. Any relationship should have a healthy balance of give and take. I also opened my heart and let her know that I care.
    I would also clearly tell her one more time that you care about her friendship and that things will fall into place. But obviously having kids changes your life. It would be weird if it didn’t.
    I have also learned to distinguish whether someone has really been a good friend for me or simply a friend for a long time.
    Change is a part of life. It can also be an opportunity.

    10.29.15 Reply
  7. Elyse says:

    As someone who does not have children but has friends who do – If she is meant to stay in your life she will. One of my dear friends does such a great job of balancing family but still making time for the conversations and plans that make our relationship feel just special. And I have loved getting to see her daughter grow up.

    On the flip side I had a best friend of 25 years (we met in nursery school) who felt like she was slowly slipping away from me in our late 20s – neither of us had kids. At a certain point I had to confront her because it felt like I was shouldering a friendship she was not fighting for anymore. It felt exactly like a longterm breakup – wondering what I did wrong, etc, and it hurt a lot. It has been 10 years, and looking back I know I did what was right to focus my energy on the people that actively want to be a part of my life.

    Relationships – no matter who they are with – need equal participation. Sounds like she is not in a place to make that work right now which is unfortunate.

    06.17.21 Reply