KATE, A CHESTNUT HILL mother of two, is a Zen, Earth-mother type. She does yoga and devours books on homeopathic medicine, and her kids don’t eat stuff that contains blue food coloring or refined sugars. When you talk to Kate, you really don’t expect her to be able to relate to this messy unraveling of friendships—she seems so calm. But nobody was more surprised than she over a BFUB drama that started with her best friend, Maureen, at Kate’s son’s first birthday party.
Kate had invited Maureen and her three kids to the fete: The two women had been close friends since their single days, back when the idea of kids and first birthday parties seemed eons away. Now, a decade later, Kate was happily surveying the festivities when she saw Maureen (never exactly a health nut) give her own baby—also a one-year-old—a slice of cheesecake. A monstrous, adult-size slab of cheesecake.
“It was full-size,” Kate says, in a tone that still, today, reveals her horror at the supersize portion. “Her child was one.”
After she’d worked so diligently to create a healthy lifestyle for her own kid, how could she ship him to Maureen’s house for playdates knowing that he’d have bricks of sugar (some of it probably blue) crammed down his throat? It was like a new, unflattering light was shining down on her friend, suddenly illuminating all the other disturbing habits Kate had observed over the years: Maureen’s kids were sometimes disrespectful and often destructive, little hurricanes that whirled in, spilling apple juice on Kate’s loveseats and tearing things apart. Kate didn’t want her son to be around it. But she couldn’t tell Maureen that. Maureen was stubborn and easily insulted. It was easier to pull away.
“And we were best friends before that,” Kate says soberly. “We’re good phone friends now. We still hang out from time to time. But we never socialize with the kids, which is hard.”
Maureen isn’t Kate’s only BFUB casualty. “Little things, like if you breast-feed, whether you have outside or inside help—those things become dividing lines, and they really impact friendships,” she explains. “There were times when I definitely felt like people were looking at me like, ‘Do I really want to go there?’” When she decided not to vaccinate her youngest child, several friends decided they most definitely did not want to go there, and bolted, a kid under each arm.
“It was a really polarizing choice, and it’s definitely caused some discomfort,” she says. But, she continues, it’s not like she became someone else entirely once she had kids—sliding Manolos into the stirrups and trotting out post-birth in Birkenstocks. She just became a more intense version of herself: Kate in hi-def.