Sex & Relationships

Grown-up parties

I'm having a girls' weekend at my cottage and one of my friends wants to bring her new baby boy. She is still breastfeeding and won't be able to come without him but I really wanted this to be a time for grown-ups only. I'm worried I'm being selfish if I ask her not to bring her son—am I?

There is a difference between self-preservation and selfishness. Know this: you’re not being selfish. You’re inviting your friends up to your cottage for a weekend and giving them a chance to get away from the stresses of everyday life. As a host, you want to help your guests focus on each other and your shared past. You probably want to relax, go on hikes and be spontaneous. And we all know that doesn’t always happen when there’s a baby around.

Most women have so much going on in their lives it’s no wonder you want to make sure the time you’ve carved out for your precious friendships is quality time. And for you, quality time is being with your friends without a baby present. New babies are adorable but their apparatus can take up a room. They’re helpless creatures and your friend would probably be distracted looking after her son’s needs. Having a baby around would change the mood.

If your friend gets angry hearing this, it is her problem. You’re wondering if you’re selfish but has it occurred to you that you’re being emotionally manipulated by the threat of this woman’s anger or hurt feelings? It seems to me the bootie should be on the other foot. She chose to have the baby and she chose to breastfeed. But you chose to have an adult-centered weekend—and it’s your house.

Many times, new mothers are particularly sensitive to non-child-centred thinking. Their hormones are running on high octane and they may be shocked to think there are those who do not share their constant fascination with the little bundle. Believe me, in a few years your friend will understand exactly how you feel. Just wait until she has a chance to get away and someone wants to bring an infant.

Sometimes new mothers honestly have no idea that they are imposing. So, you might want to be extra kind, understanding that this is a special time of her life when she’s wearing infant blinders. However, you’re not the one with a receiving blanket over one shoulder. When you tell her that you would prefer she didn’t bring the baby to the cottage, you may want to add the codicil that you’d like to make special arrangements to come by and see the baby another time to spend some one-on-one time with him.

Or, if it’s a really close friend, you may want to offer her some babysitting time. That way, you are sending the message that you’re not rejecting her child or being insensitive to her needs, you simply don’t think that the 48-hour weekend event is a good place for her new baby. Tell her you would love to watch the baby for an hour or two between feedings so she can get out on her own for a bit some sunny afternoon.

I still remember a friend who came over to watch my twins so I could simply go to the library for an hour alone. I’m still grateful to her and that was more than 20 years ago! You have no idea what an hour off can mean until you don’t have one. Your friend may be hurt at first, but as long as you’re sensitive to her feelings, I think she’ll understand.

Dr. Catherine Gildiner is a clinical psychologist in private practice. Too Close to the Falls (ECW) is her memoir.