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|Written by Miss Smartypants|
|Monday, 13 September 2010 00:00|
Dear Miss Smartypants,
"Erika" and I have been best friends since I was 15. When she was 20, she got pregnant and had a shotgun wedding. She's still married to the guy, and now they have three children. Erika also has a very hectic professional life. They've moved many times, and for years I'd visit on a regular basis. Over time, I began to hate going to her house more and more because her kids are bratty and obnoxious, as is the husband. And the one person that I actually want to speak to (Erika) is too busy breast-feeding or talking to clients on her phone to pay any attention to me. Half the time I end up sitting in the driveway, waiting for her to come home. So I quit making the trips entirely.
Recently we got in a huge argument. She told me I was weird, secretly hated her, that I don't want to know her children, and that she's done with me. At first, I thought our split might be for the best. But I love and miss her. I sent her a copy of Beaches to try and make her realize that friendships change over time. I also sent a letter saying that I'm willing to put in more effort but that changes need to happen on her end, too. She needs to pick up the phone when I call, and give me at least a little of her time without her family around. Every time we try to make plans, she has 900 things she's juggling. If I enjoyed having kids around, I'd have some myself. Why can't she understand that I want to be her friend and NOT "Auntie Jeanie"?
Erika hasn't written back. Should I make another gesture or accept that all there is nothing left to this friendship but memories?
Never Signed On To Be Friends With Her Family
A reader sent this question along to me. It originally appeared in August 10th edition of "Friend or Foe," Slate's bi-weekly Double X friendship advice column. Our mutual reader found Lucinda Rosenfeld's advice, particularly the suggestion that the writer is secretly in love with her friend, "appalling." What's my take? For the most part, I agree.
When a friend, above all a long term friend, gets married or has kids, those new relationships become part of yours. As bratty or obnoxious as those additional parties may be, they're now part and parcel with your friend. If you find them so impossible to tolerate that you would rather sit in your car in the driveway than go inside, then you need to accept that your friend's life has become too bratty and obnoxious for you.
Unless you are just sitting there in front of an empty house, possibly after travelling a significant distance to visit her, in which case, why do you want to be friends with someone who doesn't respect your time? 'Cause that's really, really rude. I wouldn't stand for that twice, never mind "half the time."
While Lucinda's suggestion of popping in a DVD for the kids and opening a bottle of wine with mom is a good one and while there are plenty of parents that enjoy having one evening per month (or whatever time frame) with other adults to talk about things that aren't parenting-related, Erika has proven herself not to be one of those. For years now you've felt that she doesn't have time for you. How many more years will it take before you accept that fact?
P.S. That thing about you being secretly in love with her is really off-side, though.