Dear Savvy Auntie,

Several months ago, my best friend, who is like a sister to me, found out she was pregnant. The father denied that baby was his, and she was desperate. I had already seen her lose one child to a father in a custody battle, and I just couldn't see that happen again. So, without any expectations I invited her into my home and told her I'd be happy to raise the baby with her.

To give a little more background, I am almost entirely supporting her and the baby. The mother contributes a bit towards food every month with her SNAP benefits, but that's about it. Again, I was and am happy to support the baby and her.

The baby was born a little while after and I was there for the birth and even cut the little one's umbilical cord. I was ready for whatever this baby had to dish out because in all fairness I had been an infant/toddler behaviorist and had cared for infants for over 10 years. In the beginning I could feel the mom's feelings of ineptness and I constantly supported her telling her what a wonderful mother she is, that she isn't expected to know everything, and that there could never be a comparison between her and me when it came to the baby.

A few months in and I'm now having difficulty. There are three things that have been bugging me a lot. First, the mom constantly makes little comments about the baby being all hers, that it's different if it's your kid, etc. Those comments really sting because she knows I can't have kids and I just end up feeling lonely and used. I get it. It's her kid, but I'm beginning to feel like a paycheck and not a friend who's helping to raise a baby. Plus, she had told me she wanted to raise the baby with me, and I know that it was silly of me to believe in her, but I did.

Second, she isn't helping to keep the house clean. She puts the baby's things away, but that's about it. Now I'm left to do all the housework, and the endless supply of dishes. I feel like she takes all of that for granted and have found myself working on the weekends just to get away from her and the baby so she can hopefully remember that I do a lot to help support her and the baby. It's spiteful, but I also just don't want to feel used anymore.

Third, she acts disgruntled when I have to go to work, and when I get home she expects me to do everything. Clean the house, cook dinner, and watch the baby. She spends the whole day just playing on her phone, holding the baby, or sleeping (which I absolutely want her to do). She doesn't even get the things she needs to get done. For example, she needs to go to WIC to help make sure she gets the formula and food she needs and has to make appointments with doctors and a lawyer. But she does none of this. I even had to make her appointment to go to the dentist to get her teeth fixed. I also had to stay on top of her so she would finally make her doctor appointments for the baby.

I feel like I have two kids - the baby and my friend. I just need her to do the things she needs to get done and help out a little. I mean, there are days that I take the baby with me to work or stay home and care for the baby. I get things done even with the baby in tow, I just don't understand why she doesn't do what she needs to do.

I have mean thoughts about wanting to leave her and the baby, because I can't just kick her out or she'd end up on the streets again. Other times I think about her just leaving the picture entirely, leaving me with the baby. Other times I just hate her and feel that she's morally bankrupt and not a good person. Though that last one isn't entirely true. She also seems quite content to step on my boundaries in the name of "I thought we were supposed to be family. You told me this was my home too." This feels just down right manipulative, but I'm horrible about maintaining my boundaries especially when I did welcome her into my home.

I don't want to feel attached to the baby because I'm afraid she'll just walk out when she finds a new baby daddy to take care of her and the baby. But that idea frightens me even more because she constantly ends up in abusive relationships, and I don't want the baby to know that kind of fear. I also can't talk to her about these things because she constantly shuts me down. I also worry about talking about these feelings to a therapist or friend because I feel like such a horrible person for having these feelings when I knew full well that this is what could happen when I welcomed her into my home.

I'm left to just suppress these feelings as they consume my thoughts and asking: Am I being horrible for feeling this way? And how do I reassert my boundaries with making her feel unwelcome? And how do I protect myself emotionally for the day she decides she wants to leave?

Feeling Used

Dear Feeling Used,

Your generous and caring offer to your friend is very commendable! However, it seems as if the “terms of the agreement “ need to be made explicit. I suggest you institute a weekly meeting with your friend in which you each take a turn saying what went well and what needs work. Then, decide if you want to do the work now or put it off until the next week. This will allow you to express each of your expectations and set up a framework for cohabitating. It seems as if you are reluctant to tell your friend what you would like, this weekly meeting offers an opportunity to talk about it equally.

A new baby brings big changes for everyone involved. It stirs up lots of emotions and anxieties.

I also suggest that both of you join a support group in your neighborhood that will be both educational and expand your contact with other new moms.

I wish you luck,
Natalie Robinson Garfield

June 25, 2018
Photo: Yastremska


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