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March 29, 2005

Comments

lilly

Although you place your concern within the SAHM context, I don’t see the issue necessarily confined to the SAHM but rather of ‘friendship longevity’ when one moves to another job, stage, or place, in life. Perhaps for the SAHM the issue is magnified because support networks are reduced, and the life change can be sudden and dramatic, but I think that it always hurts when you, despite best efforts, lose touch with friends who used to play such an important part in your life, or they expect you to make all the effort to get together, or they lose interest in what you are up to, never call, don’t return emails when you move from their physical realm, etc, etc. From my own point of view, I have found that moving from the suburbs out to the hills (about 1.5 – 2 hours drive away) has made the maintenance of some friendships very difficult. I have been extremely disappointed by promises of visits that have never eventuated and frustrated by the comments that ‘we never get to see you anymore’ when it was only me that was prepared to travel. So my answer the question posed: ‘do I try to confront the people who have written me off one last time, or is it better to … move on with the life I enjoy?’ is to follow the latter – rather than doing your head in trying to figure out what motivates people (like I have done) or agonising over abandonment issues – move on and focus on the friendships do work and the fabulous life you’ve got now.

RobinP

I work 36 hours between 2 jobs and I hate it. I am very jealous of any mom or dad who can stay home with their kids. It's my dream. I would never let my jealousy stand in the way of our friendship. I love my friends!! It's not their fault that they have a better grip on their finances than we do....lol.

I think when friends drop other friends it is about jealousy. I really do. My advice,since you asked,let it go. You shouldn't have to run after these people. They are either your friends,or they aren't. Their loss!!
Enjoy being a SAHM. I wouldn't feel bad for one single second!!!

Elizabeth

I can't tell you what going on with these specific people -- but it probably doesn't help things for you to assume that your working mom friends are "jealous" and "insecure." They may be feeling judged and rejected themselves.

mgood

I think friendships ebb and flow and evolve or devolve based on the personal needs of both parties continually moving within an elaborate and unconscious give and take dance. When you become aware of the steps, you falter. Factoring in changes in convenience, location, spontaneity and priorities on one side can strain what was a more casual relationship, when they wouldn't make a dent in a deep and true one; and when the balance is off due to changes in each party, it's even harder to regain a footing. Sometimes it's just the annoying rub of not quite fitting together easily any longer. Stepping around a minefield of attempting conversation without insulting the choices of either parties is hard enough in the tightest of friendships. It takes too much energy to go find another wallflower, so we want to hang on to who's already on our dance card.

Sheesh - stop it with the dance analogies lady!

When, at one of the last get-togethers of my first-time mothers support group (where I am the only SAHM) someone made a comment about how I'm affording to stay home I defensively yet proudly replied "We've chosen to be very, very poor." -- taking offense where none was intended. Later I had my chance to put my foot in my mouth when I asked her with genuine curiosity "How many hours a day to you get to see (your child) now?". It's all so sensitive you can barely relax. So I can see how it's easier to avoid, and fade away, than to just say "This isn't working for me any longer". Because I'm thinking of drifting away from that group. Before having the baby, I would no more relate to any of them than I would to any other nice ladies I'd meet at a cocktail party, comment on the dip with and then walk away from. Just because we have a few things in common, like babies, doesn't mean we're all intended to be friends forever. I feel vaguely resentful at the thought that it might be appropriate to announce my departure, so it's easier just to attend infrequently.

It doesn't just affect SAHM's versus working Moms. I dumped an old work friend with no kids who is between jobs and has all day long and the desire to help me with my daughter - because she was distracting me and keeping me from my job of caring for my baby and house with her visits. At least there I was brave enough to tell her, "It takes all day just to get through the day, and I want to focus on what we're doing here. I'll let you know when I'm more able to spend time with you".

Point...here point point point...leave a few empty spaces on your dance card for the old friends to swing by again and some new friends to join in. And yes, in my opinion you should confront them in the nicest way possible, so that both parties can hold their heads up when you cross paths again. They don't like feeling guilty about avoiding you any more than you don't like feeling slighted. I know this is true, because I too have a degree from HARPO University.

maria

In terms of your question, might be different for different friends. I know that just logistically, it's harder for me (I work full time) to get together w/my SAHM mom friends than my working outside the home friends. Our schedules are different, we do things in the evenings. It just plain takes a lot more effort so it doesn't happen as often... And, yes, some people might have an attitude, so then do you really want to be their friends?

Why is it so hard for some people to accept that we all make the best decisions for our families and just because I work outside the home and you stay at home doesn't make either of us better (for that reason anyway) - just different...

good luck!!!

Maria (3 kiddos 5, 3 and 10 mos)

Niki

Patrice hit the nail on the head.

I have recently become a SAHM and I completely understand the problem you're describing. I was blindsided when I discovered a person with whom I was friends had been making negative comments about my new life. She is childless and very career-minded and said that now that I was at home with a child that she doubted we could remain friends. This made no sense to me as I had never really talked about my dull office job and most of our past conversations revolved around movies, TV and music. The only change to our interaction was that now I wanted to share some of my experience at home with my child. And apparently she wasn't interested in hearing it because it wasn't exactly her experience.

Do our friends have to be carbon copies of ourselves in order for us to relate to each other? That certainly would make for very boring conversation. Variety is the spice of life and we should rejoice in having friendships with whom we can share our different experiences.

In my experience it does no good to confront the people who have decided to drop out of your life. It only causes more hurt. You just have to take solace in the fact that your closest friends, the ones who are true will continue to be there for you no matter how your life choices differ. And try to put the others out of your mind.

patrice

In response to Mer -

That was a nice comment which I am sure was to help "bridge the gap" as you aptly put it.

I think you did hit on a good point, though, which was people not knowing how to relate. I hear that alot with people who don't have kids talking to people who do, or vice versa, or SAHM vs. working mom or whatever. Since when were we, as capable women who either do or did work out in the world or even just existed in the world, not able to relate to people who are different from us? When did that happen? We talk to men. We probably talk to people of different races. We talk to moms of different genders of kids. Suddenly it's too much effort to try to understand someone different from us?

This is not directed at Mer (you seem like a lovely person!) but reflects more of a personal problem I've been going through lately with good friends, one of whom is a SAHM and one who is not a mother. Thinking about explaining the difficulties away by saying that they can't relate to each other anymore seems silly to me. It's not like we can't empathize with anyone anymore once we have kids, or couldn't empathize before we had kids.

So what is it??

Dori

As a working mother, (I know, redundant), my ass is never invited or included in the neighborhood SAHM cliques. So, I dont have an ass to drop, LOL. It was never welcome to begin with. We all have our own challenges and must deal with what life hands us. One thing we cant control is crappy people. I hope you find kinder people - working full time or staying home moms - who will support you as a friend and person, not as a label.

LPF

I've had similar experiences and it's definitely hard. When I get together with my pregnancy friends (we all gave birth within a month of each other and all but two have gone back to work) I have to just sit there during the office chat and how-to-get-it-all-done talk. It's expected that my life is just peachy when the reality is that my husband has handed over pretty much all the housekeeping to me and we don't have any extra money for the housekeepers that all of my friends have.

In terms of close friends, I would give them another chance. You don't have to be confrontational about it, but just let them know that you're hurt. I had lunch with one friend a couple of weeks ago and was fairly candid with her that I was really upset when I heard about the girls weekend away trip that I wasn't even asked to go on. She surprised me by saying that they had realized it already, it hadn't been a deliberate slight, but rather an assumption that as a new mom I wouldn't want to go. She and my other close friend had figured out that making assumptions wasn't playing fair. And maybe the same thing is happening with some of your friends. But you won't know if you don't ask.

Good luck!

Mer

I'm sure it's a hard transition, but I wouldn't be so quick to chalk it all up to jealousy. Lots of moms work because they love it...not because they feel like they have to for financial reasons.

It may be that bridging the gap between the differences in lifestyle is just really hard. For your friends who have never stayed home, they probably don't know what it's like. And it may be a hard topic to broach without sounding judgmental, condescending, smug, jealous, etc. I mean, how do you politely say to someone, "So what DO you do all day?" without sound like a total @&$*#?

Also, maybe your friends don't feel like they really have any experiences to compare with what you're going through now. For example, I always find that conversation falters when I talk about daycare with women who stay home or have nannies. It's not that those moms are judging me for having my kid in daycare (I hope!); it's more that they don't have any experience with what I'm talking about and they don't know how to participate in the conversation.

And sometimes relationships just change and fade, and it isn't any more than the result of the passage of time...

Anyway, it sounds like you are happy, and that's the most important thing. Just make sure that it's not the idea of other people feeling bad (unhappy in their jobs, jealous of you) that's making you feel good about your choice.

Christine

Teddi,

My Web site, http://www.SAHMiAm.net, tells all. In fact, I relate to everything you are going through. It is a tough transition. A lot of people feel they can't relate to you, that you have somehow paralyzed your mind and that nothing is noteworthy to or about you anymore.

The reality is much different. As a fellow SAHM, I crave and search out knowledge like the rest of the employed folk. That I do it between the hours of 1 and 4 pm when my kids are in their afternoon preschool means little. I have a mind. And I use it to empower others in my situation, too.

The jealousy factor is a huge one to consider. It is unfortunate that some of your relationships have dwindled. I find my nuclear friendships have lasted the test of time. Others come and go. The ones that leave are the ones who were never really bound strongly to me in the first place. It is hard, as we get older, to connect with like-minded people on a consistent basis. There are times when I pine for the college days of yesteryear when the biggest crisis was finding something to wear to a party with "boys" (I went to a women's college in the Northeast -- you get my drift).

I wish you great success in your new venture. I support and encourage you!! You are doing the most important job in the world. I'm so happy for you!!!

Blessings,
Christine

Gina

If the friendships that have faded are with people from your former job, then that's pretty normal. Many workplace friendships are pretty job-specific. Whether you leave a workplace for another job or for home, it's amazing how quickly some friendships fade, even if it seemed at the time that the friendships were bigger than the job. It doesn't mean that they weren't great friendships - it's just that when you're not physically in the same place every day, so you don't have the daily opportunities for easy friendship that you used to. Don't take it personally; it's not that they don't like you, it's just that they don't run into you 10 times a day the way they used to, and naturally you both have less in common now.

If these friends whom you are referring to didn't work in the same workplace as you, maybe some of the same phenomenon is operating anyway -- they are physically off in their own world and you are literally in a different world, and naturally there's not as much in common. Sometimes these friendships can survive and thrive anyway, but if they don't, it's not anyone's fault and it's OK.

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