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Passed over as a Godmother: Dealing with the hurt

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QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I am an only child and have a friend named Linda (who is also an only) whom I've known since first grade. She is due to give birth to a baby girl and two months ago asked me to throw her shower for 50 people with the help of her mother and sister-in-law. I felt really honored and threw myself into it, and it was a tremendous success.

In her words and mine, I was also the first person she told she was pregnant after her husband (even before her mom!). We spoke just recently and she excitedly detailed the upcoming baby christening she already was planning. In lieu of traditional godparents, she and her husband decided to name his two brothers as godparents, and do something special for me, for another friend, and for her two sister-in-laws during the ceremony. Is it wrong that I feel hurt by this?

I truly hoped that I would be a godparent, that I would be family to her when both of us don't have anyone else. Should I say something to her? Especially because this hurt is making me not want to rush the six hours to be at the hospital when she gives birth. Then I think, what does it matter---I'm just a friend. I realize I also might be reflecting my past hurt onto a situation that doesn't merit it -- and thus I've come to you! Please help, Friendship Doctor. What should I do?

Signed,
Beth

ANSWER

Dear Beth,

You are so fortunate to have such a close and long-standing friendship. When a woman doesn't have a sister, a best friend often feels like the sister she never had so I'm sure this relationship is as special for you as it is for Linda. You are far more than "just a friend." However, with Linda becoming a mother, it will definitely change the nature of your relationship, even in terms of the sheer time she has available for herself. So I can see how this might make you feel uncertain about what is to come.

While it's understandable that you might be disappointed and hurt because you had hoped to be a godparent, you have to understand that your friend and her husband have every right to exercise their own prerogatives and do what they think is best for themselves and their baby. (And although you were very gracious to throw the shower, I'm certain you never expected any payback for doing that.)

The fact that Linda told you first, decided to single you out, and wants to honor you during the christening, shows how important you are to her and that she wants you to play a special role in the life of her first child. I'm sure Linda and her husband had to weigh many considerations in making their decision. For example, her husband's family may have had traditions or expectations that you don't know about. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that Linda's decision diminishes your friendship in any way.

In many cases, the role of a godparent is somewhat ambiguous and is subject to the people and personalities involved. In no way should this stop you from carving out a special role for yourself. Try to swallow your initial feelings of hurt and be the unofficial godparent you had always hoped to be. Shower the baby with your love and affection and be there for Linda as she adjusts to the challenges of motherhood. Also, you never know what life may bring: Your BFF may have other children and you may have another shot at the brass ring.

This friendship seems to be too important to tarnish in any way by saying something now that you'll later regret.

Hope this helps.

Best,
Irene

Have a question about female friendships? Send it to The Friendship Doctor.

Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. Her new book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, was recently published by Overlook Press. She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog and at PsychologyToday.com.

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