Recently a story has been making the Internet rounds and it’s got all my friends talking. A new mom in Australia, Jade Ruthven, received an angry letter from her “friends” who were sick of her baby daughter.
The friends got together and decided to write an anonymous letter to let the new mom that they were “so over” the “running commentary” of everything the baby does. As friends, they felt it was their duty to let her know “what people really think.”
My initial reaction isn’t anything I’d feel comfortable writing down or even saying out loud. And what I really think is — Jade Ruthven needs a new set of girlfriends.
Because who writes a letter like that? To their supposed friend!
Who writes, “[Your daughter is] six months old. WHO CARES!” and then follows with “…we love her.” The letter was filled with rage, lots of exclamation points, all caps and a bit a jealousy thrown in.
I’m sorry, but that’s not friendship and that’s not love. It’s mean, vicious, and borders on bullying. (Which is really frightening because the letter was written by moms… is sending an angry anonymous letter to a friend the example these women want to set for their kids?)
I think it’s fair to say, we’ve all had those moments when you’ve seen one baby post or picture too many. I’m a mom, I love babies, I love seeing pictures of babies, I love celebrating milestones because as an autism mom – I know how much they mean. But some days it’s just too much even for me. I have many of new mom friends on Facebook and there are days when it’s post after post about first foods, first step, first potty training success.
Some of it is a little TMI and sometimes it gets a bit annoying. It makes me feel like I’m not doing enough and sometimes it makes me sad because I may never experience those firsts again.
But then I take a step back and think about what my new mom friends have been through. Some have experienced loss, tried various fertility treatments, had adoptions fall through at the last possible second, or been told that they would never be able to conceive a child. To these women (and really all women), their babies are true miracles and the best thing to ever happen. I let them own that. I respect that it’s their page, and their place to share.
And when it gets to be too much, I use all my other options: delete, unfollow, stop notifications, ignore and keep it scrolling or my personal favorite – hide (for those you can’t delete).
But I would never EVER write an anonymous letter ranting about how sick I am of their oversharenting.
I remember a time before Facebook, texting, and email. I was all about the letter — handwritten because computers weren’t a household item when I was teenager. The summer before I turned 15, I was grounded. I couldn’t go out with friends and I couldn’t use the phone. (My mom was no joke.) My best friend and I communicated by snail mail. We wrote pages and pages to each other. In those letters we shared our hopes, our crushes and all about how our parents were ruining our lives. Over the course of our 18 year friendship, we wrote many letters to each other.
But it’s her last letter I remember most — the angry letter.
Less than a year after my son Norrin was diagnosed with autism, I remember getting a letter from my best friend. It was four pages long, typed in a word document, most likely spell checked and carefully edited. The gist? I didn’t love her kid, I wasn’t there for her because I was so wrapped up in my own world and I was basically the worst friend ever.
And then she wrote the words that I can’t forgive nor forget: “Norrin isn’t going to die from autism and neither are you.” And that I needed to “get over it.”
I was at work when I read it and I remember bursting into tears. That letter wasn’t the result of something that happened overnight — it felt like years of pent-up anger, frustration and resentment. My friend claimed it was in the effort to save our friendship; that “real friends are honest with each other.” We talked it over and tried to salvage our relationship but that letter was the beginning of the end. By the following year, our friendship was over.
I printed the letter out and kept it with me for weeks. I read it over and over again trying to make sense of it. I read it aloud to other friends, my husband, my mom. I cried over it for many nights after. I have spent many a therapist session discussing it. That letter not only destroyed a friendship but it made me question all other friendships since. It made me question myself. That letter was the cruelest thing anyone has ever done to me and it overshadowed every good memory. Because whenever I think about her — high school graduation, prom, all the holidays we spent together, vacations, our weddings, our baby showers — I think about that letter.
I think the biggest problem I have with the moms who wrote this angry letter to their friend (aside from it being just plain mean), is that it was done anonymously. Not one of them had the courage to sign their name to it. But I’m pretty sure that mom read that letter and could easily figure out who wrote it. And that’s messed up because how do you move forward with your friendship after that? I think it’s impossible.
I hope that mom deletes all of them – from her social media accounts and her life.
If any woman thinks the way to save a friendship or is through an angry letter, then they are hugely mistaken. In truth, it’s the fastest way to end one.