Q: My older sibling finally married and had a child, all within the last three years. I've been happily married for almost eight years with no intentions to have children (never wanted them, still don't). The problem is that whenever there are family gatherings, the new grandchild is all that anyone talks about! There is very little adult conversation, and I find myself bored and avoiding family gatherings (and more than a little resentful). How do I tell my mother this without sounding like I'm jealous of the new grandchild?
She also continually says to other family members (used to say it to me, but I told her to stop) how much she wishes I would have a child. My mom and I always had a terrific relationship before this.
A: You sound jealous. That will make the part about not sounding jealous particularly difficult.
This isn't to discount your other concerns. It doesn't take a childless person to find kid blather boring, and certainly being pressured to breed will breed only resentment. It's as if everything you've achieved by making a satisfying life for yourself has been erased in your family's eyes. I get it.
However, all of this, along with telling embellishments — about your "finally" married sister, and your status as long-married traveler in the land of Fun — suggests it's not just about a shift in topic. It's about a shift in power. For all those years, were you the one who made good? And now the underachieving sister has seized the attention from you?
If your "terrific relationship" with your mom rested on your being the apple of her eye, then the baby might be more of a gift to you than he/she already is to your family. Take this opportunity to break away (sounds like you're already there), get over yourself (not so much), make peace with your choices where till now you've sought approval for them, and return to your mom as a fellow adult and a friend. I have to think your little talk with her will go better this way — that's assuming you still feel you need to have it.
Either way, how about some joy for your sister?
A birthday suggestion
Q: Two husbands of two friends who have birthdays this week called me.
"Any suggestions on what to get my wife for her birthday?"
I was unhelpful. No suggestions. Should I have told them the obvious? Pick up after your kids. Do it for your wife's birthday and forever after. This will tell her that you love her. Then also tell her she's beautiful. Am I a coward for not speaking up?
A: Maybe. Okay, yes. But you could also be a realist — for it to work, it has to be as obvious to these guys as it is to you. And can anyone get this, really get it, second hand? Maybe more important, will these kids ever get the concept of shared burdens (and start picking up after themselves), if they see only one parent clean up after everyone? Because no one else will?
"This week" will be long gone by the time this appears, but since your gift idea is evergreen, I'll put it out there. Maybe the people who need it will think it was their idea.
Write "Tell Me About It," c/o Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or