The first time I saw the woman that would become my best mommy friend, she was walking in late to our weekly Breastfeeding 101 class at the motherhood center. She was frazzled, her large overstuffed petunia pickle bottom diaper bag pulled on her button down blouse revealing the top of her lacy (non-breastfeeding friendly) bra. Flyaways circled the top of her long highlighted blonde hair, and she had mascara smudges under her eyes. She reminded me of myself during my first year of teaching, I was always running late to class. I smiled sweetly to her signaling an empty seat at my table. For the next two hours—while our instructor, a middle aged woman lectured us on the importance of colostrum and hindmilk—we passed notes back and forth like high school girls.
“How old is your little one?”
“Eight weeks, we are still trying to figure out nursing. You?”
“12 weeks, me too…I think it’s frustrating.”
“It’s so nice having an evening off baby duty.”
After the class ended we exchanged contact information. When I returned home that evening, I had a text message from her.
“It was so great meeting you, let’s get together with our girls.”
“Yes, that would be great.” I lit up as I pressed send. My husband standing next to me asked who I was texting.
“My new mommy friend, Jennifer” I giggled.
For the next few months me and my new friend texted non-stop. We went over to each other’s houses, grabbed coffee, lunch, or the occasional spa day. We talked about everything from our former teaching jobs to marriage and sex, our new babies and my favorite topic in-law drama. Our conversations were effortless and she got me in a way my other childless friends did not. When I went to her home I was family.
“Sorry about the mess everywhere.”
“Oh don’t worry about it.”
“My Mother always told me you don’t have to clean the house for family, and well we basically are.”
By the time our girls turned one, we had spent so much time with each other’s babies that her daughter Annabelle called me Auntie Crys. I was Annabelle’s emergency contact at school, and she was Abby’s.
Then she built her new 6,000 sq ft, $2 million house. Which she made a point to boast about in every conversation. Her abrupt change in behavior was bizarre and shocking. Her house engulfed her with its vanity and posh furnishings. Her obsession between the lithographs and oriental rugs replaced our old conversations.
“Want to go shopping, Jen?”
“I can’t I have to meet with my interior designer to select fabrics.”
“Oh I love picking fabrics, need another eye?”
“Um actually, that’s okay, I really need to go with a professional’s suggestions, sorry,” she scoffed.
I tried to brush it off and make excuses for her rudeness, and thought perhaps the business of interior design was just time consuming.
“We are getting custom cabinets for the kitchen.”
“Oh, that’s nice.”
“Yup, they cost around $80,000.” Pause. “Yeah you guys could never afford that.”
The initial bragging developed into harsh blunt comments and condescending rudeness. It wasn’t about the money. It was about her. Her behavior affected our friendship. How was I going to sit around getting insulted? Was I supposed to wait for the other Jennifer to come back? And what if she didn’t. We were like family, I wanted to call her out on this callous behavior just like I would a relative. I tried pulling her aside, a few times to address it. But I could never find the right words. How do you tell someone to stop being such an asshole?
Instead, I retreated to my writing and spending time with my family and other friends. I thought that if I gave the friendship distance it would bounce back on its own. I was also beginning to question my validity. I had thought that maybe the insulting behavior was just with me. But I was wrong.
One time a few of us grabbed lunch together while our kids were at school. Someone brought up the issue of our kid’s schooling. Our friend Katherine mentioned she was planning to send her son to the school they were zoned to.
“Oh wow. I can’t believe you guys are actually sending your kid to a public school,” Jennifer sniffed. “I would never do that.”
I saw Katherine fighting tears.
“Jen, what is your problem?” My fork clanged on the plate as I dropped it and stood up in the middle of the restaurant.
“As parents we all try to make the best decisions for our families. Not everyone can afford private school, but what do you know about that?”
I grabbed my clutch pulled out a twenty and left it on the table as I walked out. I was fuming at her insults and wasn’t afraid to show it. I couldn’t believe that her whole demeanor had changed towards everyone. What had once been a warm and supportive friendship had denigrated into such cruelness. It was like looking at the two portraits of Dorian Gray side by side and seeing that the beautiful innocent cherub face had warped into a distorted, hideous and unrecognizable monster.
She never texted me to go to lunch again. I wanted to avoid drama and confrontation and so I just let it fizzle out. Our mutual group of friends trickled away slowly. She eventually made a completely new group of friends in her new neighborhood.
It’s been 2 years. Nothing has changed. But still our worlds continue to overlap. We were at a birthday party for a mutual friend. I hadn’t seen Jennifer in months. I stood behind my daughters who were seated next to the food table.
I realized Jennifer’s new role in my life. And, yes she had one. She was now my frenemy.
“How have you been Crystal,” she asked in a monotone.
“Good, and yourself?” I kept my voice at her exact level and tone.
There was so much unresolved between us. We stood in a place of awkward gray where predatory met seemingly friendly. I half smiled, nodded and walked off to grab food plates for my girls. There was no need to give any ground to someone I’d once shared my world with.
Crystal Olguín Duffy lives in Houston with her husband, three little girls, including a set of identical twins and yappy little yorkie. Her writing has appeared in Scary Mommy, Mamapedia and she’s a contributing writer for Twiniversity. She’s the author of her memoir, Twin to Twin, which details her high-risk twin pregnancy. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog The Duffy Diary.