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Carolyn Hax: She’s all ‘Hooray for Mommyhood’ around childless friends

Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: A close college friend of mine, “Anne,” is a mom of a lovely 3-year-old, and for the past three years she has not stopped demanding that our mutual college friend — “Joan,” to whom I’m a bit closer — and I have children because it’s “the best!” and she’s “so excited for us to get pregnant and we can all be mothers.”

Well, I’m only just getting married, and Joan is single. She has had some difficult abortion experiences and I haven’t been tested for fertility, nor am I at that stage. We have both tried explaining to Anne that we’re very uncomfortable with this topic and her approach, which is very assumptive and insensitive.

At a recent girls’ trip, Anne shouted about this again while drunk, and a separate friend of mine — they had all just met for the first time — later confessed that she has a variety of genetic and medical issues that will make pregnancy difficult, painful and expensive, if she can get pregnant at all. Joan and I were hoping this would be a wake-up call for Anne, but we’re both still anxious about what to do and dread that she will do this again. What else can we do to get through to her??

— Friend

Friend: Next time, before you shut Anne down, consider encouraging her to open up. Give her room to talk about her stage of life right now. Ask about her kid. Ask her if she is craving mom friends.

Maybe she is exactly as high on motherhood as she claims to be and just wants everyone to be as blissed-out as she is, but I’m more inclined to believe she’s struggling and this is her way of trying to chip away at the stress, loneliness, self-doubt or whatever else is gnawing at her. People who load up on drinks and start shouting obsessively about things they had to be asked not to obsess about generally aren’t at peak selfhood in that moment.

But this license is for when she’s talking about herself. Any and every time she turns her baby fixation back on others, shut the harassment down. “Anne — we’ve been over this. New topic.” Then change the subject, or walk away if she doesn’t back off.

Re: Baby-pusher: I think it merits serious consideration that your friend may be struggling with something. Get to the root of why this is so important to her. I’m also recently married with no children and have a mom friend — she isn’t as persistent as yours, but it did come out that she was a bit wistful of her life before kids. Not that she doesn’t love hers, but she admitted she was having trouble reclaiming her identity outside of being a mom and felt like if I was on the same page, then she wouldn’t feel so alone. She’s the first in our close friend group to have children and so far the only.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: I appreciate your compassion, and I’m sure your friend does, too.

Write to Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at wapo.st/haxpost.

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