• Tue, Mar 18 - 6:00 pm ET

You Are A Heartless Jerk If You Ditch Your Childless Friends After Having A Baby

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There’s something about being a parent that makes you gravitate toward other parents. I assume it’s the same feeling of kinship that soldiers share after being in the trenches—fellow parents know what you’re going through. They know what it’s like to go for weeks without a full night of sleep and question your existence and forget that you have spit-up on your pants and then wear the same pair of pants for a month straight without a second thought. They get it.

But what happens to your childless (or child-free) friends after you have a kid? I know what happens. You invite them to all of the baby stuff—baby showers and meet-the-baby and christenings and what have you. You have the best intentions to keep them in your life, but maybe you feel guilty about the constant baby overload in your friendship. Soon enough, the invites start to trickle off, and you only keep in touch with your childless friends on Facebook.

I’ve probably been guilty of this myself. It’s hard to connect in the exact same way after having kids, especially if you still have couple friends without kids and single friends in your social circle. It’s just easier to phone up your parent friends to go to the park for the afternoon because they will understand when you have to leave early when your toddler has a meltdown at 5 PM. (It’s dinner time, duh!)

I’ve even tried to make new parent friends—meaning parents that I wasn’t friends with before having kids. Most of the time, the interaction is forced. All we have in common are our kids. While that’s all fine and good and may foster a play date or two, I prefer making friends with people that I actually connect with, with or without the presence of children.

Don’t forget about your childless or childfree friends after you have kids. You may think that they don’t want to hang out with you and your baby on a boring afternoon, and maybe they don’t, but at least give it a shot. You were friends with them before kids for a reason. In my world, I’d rather stay connected to kid-free friends and minimize the baby talk than manufacture new parent friendships based on kids as the common interest.

(Image: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)

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  • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

    “Hey bro! Let’s hangout this weekend.”

    “Alright dude, meet you at Chuck E Cheese!”

    “Wot?”

    • Valerie

      They do serve beer, though.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yes, they do! :)

    • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

      Meet you all there!

    • Kay_Sue

      Dave and Buster’s. But then, of course, I can’t bring the kids.

    • Life-Sized Mommy

      My kids love D&B. My baby was sharing ribs with my husband when we went last night.

    • Kay_Sue

      I’m sure my kids would too. But they already have Chuck E Cheese. They can leave my D&B the hell alone. That’s where I go for grown up fun. ;)

    • Bewilderment

      If I did that with my child free friends they would all be “booze, games, and pizza? HECK YEAH!!!”

  • Guest

    Maybe my friends with kids are just awesome but we’ve grown with each other and our “hanging out” has progressed from getting hammered to going out to dinner. They know that their childfree friends love their kids and understand kid issues and we find time to all hang out as a group. I look forward to having kids knowing we can still hang out anytime with or without all the kiddies.

  • Angela

    Honestly I don’t think anyone says, “Well, now that I have a kid I’ll just ditch all my friends” It’s usually a lot more complicated than that. Most of the friends I had pre-kid are not planners. When we would go out it was usually spur of the moment which just doesn’t work for me now, especially if they want me to leave my kids behind. After my son was born I know that they felt somewhat rejected when I’d turn down their invites, but they also ignored my requests to plan something at least a week ahead.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yes, planning is KEY with kids – yes. I have always been a planner, so maybe my childless friends are used to that annoying personality trait. ;)

    • Larkin

      This is weirdly comforting to me… all of my friends and I are planners. We almost never do spur-of-the-moment outings because it’s borderline impossible to get everyone’s schedules to match up without a week’s notice. The vast majority of my social outings are planned well in advance, even pre-kid. Haha.

    • Guest

      Took me the longest time to get my husband on board with planning. I hate HATE last minute stuff dropped on me. I need time to plan! I find that friends I thought would fall off the face of the Earth haven’t, because we’ve learned how to plan ahead our get togethers.

  • noodlestein

    Co-sign all of this. If my friends with kids and I stopped hanging out with me, I’d only have about three friends left! I dunno – it just hasn’t been an issue with us. We used to hang out at friends’ places in the evenings, now the kids are there, too. And it’s not as if we don’t go out at night and party down, just not as often. Anyway, what I’m basically saying is that I’m lucky. Very lucky. :)

  • Channing

    I think it really depends on the child-free friend. I have a few who are totally cool and willing to work around baby/kid schedules, etc so we can get together. And then there are others who just seem…..deliberately ignorant? Bitter? They are unwilling to acknowledge that my weekend mornings start at 6am so meeting for a drink on Friday night at 10pm isn’t gonna work for me. Or they cant understand why my husband can’t “just deal” with the infant with a fever so we can keep our plans. I don’t hold it against them….much. I mean, I get that they don’t REALLY understand b/c they don’t have kids. But honestly, sometimes I think that if they were true friends, they would not need to have experienced something to understand that this is something I need to (or need to not do). I may be rambling (as I am running on fumes….as usual), but it just seems as though a true friend – child free or not – will try to meet you where you are no matter the reason why. So yes, some child-free friends have become more distant. But I feel that is more a reflection of realizing that this was never a true friend to begin with.

    • Momma425

      I completely agree.
      Most of my friends- my really good friends, I have retained. They understand that if they schedule something with me (dinner, coffee, whatever), sometimes my daughter is going to come. They are understanding when fevers comes up. They “get it” so to speak, even though they don’t have kids.
      I did lose a bunch of friends when I first had my daughter- primarily because I was 22, and most of them didn’t understand why I couldn’t go out and drink/party every weekend. I don’t have anything against those people and would be more than happy to catch up with them anytime, but they weren’t so flexable about the mom schedule, so to speak.

    • Layla

      Well said. I’m still only friend with kids but people were so rude when I was pregnant with second (“why in such a rush to have kids?” “Why did u have a kid close to someone’s wedding”) it was really upsetting to me. I’m also thirty so it’s not like I was 16 and just popping out kid after kid. But then I realized these people aren’t true friends. True friends wouldn’t question.

    • Jen

      Perhaps if you explained why the 10 pm drink isn’t going to work for you and then offered up another time that would work for you. We may not fully understand the demands on your life with children, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t willing to. We can’t be the only ones putting in effort.
      I have not had one friend or relative “ditch” me when they have children, so I know it is possible to keep strong relationships. I suppose I am lucky enough to have people in my life that realize that after all we have been through as friends, that I probably want to share this new adventure with them as well.
      Not everyone who doesn’t want children or is not able to is bitter and ignorant.

    • Liberty

      You apparently fail to recognize that “but it just seems as though a true friend – child free or not – will try to meet you where you are no matter the reason why” applies to you, as well. We child-free people also have obligations, work, family, errands, and more. You have just as much obligation to meet a friend where she is “no matter the reason why.” Otherwise you are the one who does not value the relationships you had before. You are the one who is rudely ignoring someone. If you value someone and that person values you then she’ll recognize you can’t just go out at 10pm to chat with her. But you can still arrange to meet her sometime the next day. Invite her to the park with coffee while your kid plays. You have to be creative in order to maintain friendships. I get tired of my friends with kids saying “Oh, I thought you’d be too busy” and at the same time saying “Oh, you can’t possibly be busy.” If you want to make it work you will. Otherwise you’re being the distant, rude one who was never a true friend to start. It is a two way street.

  • Abby

    Agreed with everyone that keeping those friendships alive is a two-way street and it does take some understanding on both parts about the new reality. I think it helps to be really communicative, or at least as much so as your friendship allows. Like saying, “listen, it’s rare that I’ll ever be able to join you for late night drinks. But I really want to see you — can we grab coffee during the day, or go for an early dinner?” And then don’t back out of those plans. Most friends (on both sides) just want to see that you’re making an effort.

    My best friend is a single gay man who is (he denies it, but he totally is) somewhat germophobic. So he loves me, loves my kid, but we keep pretty different hours and he’s pretty adamant about not wanting to be too hands-on with her when she has a cold (which is… always). It hasn’t been super easy, but we’re figuring it out, because neither of us doubts that we really value the friendship. Just knowing that is really helpful, and I think it never hurts to tell your friends that!

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I spend less time with my childless friends, but the time has not dwindled to zero. I aim for at least monthly hangouts, which usually take place either at my home or in my neck of the woods. I don’t get as much invites back, though. I know it’s not because they don’t want to see me, but rather because they know I have limitations and they don’t want to “bother” me. So, I do my best to make plans and be proactive about keeping my friendships.
    We do have a couple that make brunch plans with us, though, and they will come to our house first and we’ll eat in our neighbourhood, and I love that because it’s really accommodating to my son’s naps, which aren’t always predictable.
    Whenever someone has a new baby, it’s hard for them to get out due to a lack of flexibility. I think a fair compromise is the parents are responsible for making the plans and reaching out and making that effort to socialize, and the childfree are responsible for working around the parents’ obstacles. When lives diverge, relationships have to evolve with them. Good friends will be understanding.

  • Sexy Robotic Arms Dealer

    OT: Target’s having a sale on toys. Free shipping.

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    Use your credit card so Russian hackers will get your ID

  • whiteroses

    Most of my friends are other moms. Part of that is because they understand my life in a way that my friends who don’t have kids never could. They’re more tolerant (for the most part) when my son freaks out and has a meltdown in the middle of Target. And they understand that I have to plan ahead and I have to plan around my son’s schedule.

    I do have a few friends who are childfree. But honestly, everyone has huge life changes happen to them. If friendships can’t adjust on both sides, then they’re probably not real in the first place.

  • Emily Wight

    I had kind of the opposite problem. I was the first of my friends to have kids (at 28), and they all kind of disappeared on me after I had the baby. Nothing drastic, but I wouldn’t get invited to stuff, and when I asked about it later they had assumed I wouldn’t be able to come because of the baby. I had to put in a fair bit of effort to convince some friends that I was still very much the same, and that we were still going to do things and that I still wanted to be part of their lives. It still makes me kind of sad, because I felt really isolated when I just wanted to have someone drink wine with me and tell me about all the fun sex she was having or trips she was taking so that I’d feel connected to myself as a person and not just a source of food.

    • Kitty817

      I had the same experience! I was also 28 and the first to make a baby. I was prepared for the sleeplessness, crying, and all the other “baby” related changes that occurred. What I wasn’t prepared for was being dropped by my friends.

    • AE Vorro

      That’s awful!

  • Kay_Sue

    I think it depends.

    I was 19 when my eldest was born. Most of my friends were not having babies–in fact, none were–and most of them were at a vastly different life stage. Our interests noticeably diverged, and like most friendships, the relationship didn’t survive.

    Not all of them–my best friend is still childfree and is still here. It took effort and understanding on both of our parts, but we worked it out. I don’t know that I’d want (or expect from someone else) the same level of effort that we put into keeping ours going, not for people that wasn’t as close as we are.

  • NotTakenNotAvailable

    I’ve told the few friends I have who are planning to have children that I’ll happily be there for them when they need a break from family life and a sympathetic ear. For me, the challenge of being on the flip side of this equation is that I am simply not a kid person, so I don’t know how much face-to-face involvement I could comfortably handle before the littl’uns can talk chapter books. Luckily for me, my closest friends are as committed to childfreedom as I am, but since most adults of childbearing age want kids, I know soon enough I’ll need to find a delicate way to make it less obvious how little patience I have for small children.

    • arrow2010

      God told you to be fruitful and multiply. How selfish of you.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Honestly, I think most people with a new baby don’t really want you to oooh and aaah, just to hang out with them in public with coffee – you could even ignore the kid completely! Or maybe that’s just me. :)

    • rrlo

      If they are your friends, they would understand that you’re not into little kids. I am sure it is pretty obvious. Most kids can hold it together for about 30 to 45 minutes. Perfect amount of time for a quick visit :). Regardless, I think deep down we all just want our friends to care and wish us well – and face time is not mandatory to convey that.

  • Kelly

    Eh, my husband and I were the first of our friends to have a child and frankly, we got a lot of rude shit from them during that time. Rude comments, or just flat out stupid comments that made them seem like children.

    In addition to having a child, my husband and I were also in the Army and living on our own while a lot of our friends were leisurely living with their parents, going to college, and partying on their parents dime. So, they basically were children compared to us. Spending time with them became more and more awkward until we drifted apart.

    We’ve reconnected with some of them now that we’re all in our 30s and it’s hilarious to me when they’ll tell me about how someone said something so rude to them about their child or their parenting style. I love the mouth full of shit look they get when I remind them that they said the exact same thing to me. LOL

  • C.J.

    I have all the same friends that I had before I had kids. Having kids was never really an issue with my friendships. Some of my friends had kids too and some didn’t and don’t plan to. When the kids were little me child free friends never had a problem working around the kids. I still talked to them and saw them just as much. I must just have great friends.

  • MerlePerle

    I had my first kid at 22 and none of my friends were even close to starting their own families. Unfortunately many friendships didn’t last, because I had become to boring…

  • Katherine Handcock

    I think the problem is that most friends are kind of friends of convenience – in that you’re friends with someone because you met them at work, or at a class for your favourite hobby, etc. But friendships that are truly based on innate similarities are pretty rare. That means it doesn’t take much of a tip to have most friendships become more distant, and kids, naturally, are a pretty dramatic change!

    That’s not to say I don’t think it’s worth trying to maintain those friendships, especially if you DO have a lot in common and enjoy one another’s company, just that you should accept that it’s possible that the drifting apart is natural.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I definitely agree with that!

    • rrlo

      You are absolutely right.

      And when they are really good friends, at our age (ha, I sound old) – a few years of infrequent visits shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. So during the years our kids are little and big balls of need, we drift a bit apart from our friends – but that stage will end and we can reconnect without missing a beat – if the friendship was strong to begin with.

  • Lackadaisical

    I think this one can be six of one and half a dozen of the other. Yes, those of us who become parents should make an effort to keep the friendships with our non parent friends going. We shouldn’t hang our entire social lives around our kids and the parents of our kids friends. We shouldn’t make everything cool and awesome we do be about families with kids so that our friends without kids are either not invited or made uncomfortable at every social gathering we are a part of. This is especially true if you are in a social group that has always been close that starts getting married and having kids except for a minority with no interest in sprogging. Babysitting exists, and those who can’t afford or find reliable babysitting can also invite friends over for nights of good (or just tasty) food, DVDs, silly games and drinking when the kids are in bed and asleep.

    At the same time the moment I popped out a kid I didn’t magically become a different person and my friends without kids should (if they are proper friends) remember that the person I was who they enjoyed the company of still exists. I have had friends drop me like I was ringing a lepers bell and wearing a t-shirt with “I will kick your puppies and slap your nan while the vicar watches” printed on it. Some of my friends assumed I no longer had anything intelligent or non-baby related to say and so when I did manage to catch up with them at social gatherings with mutual friends they would blank me in the grown up conversations and when they had to talk to me they kept trying to steer the conversation to my kids while looking awkward and patronising about it as if I was forcing them to discuss the kids constantly in an overshare mum way. I don’t want to talk about my kids constantly, and I certainly never want to talk about my kids to someone who blatantly has no interest in them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want a conversation or that I have nothing relevant to say on the topics that they actually want to talk about.

    • Kay_Sue

      I want that t-shirt. Not because I would actually do any of it, but because it’s hilarious.

      I really feel your point on conversation. One of our favorite things to do was to meet at a local coffee shop and spend an afternoon talking, sharing books, reading over each other’s shoulders at whatever internet article we found interesting, working on school work together. These were things having a kid did not change in me. But every conversation that we tried to have afterwards still seemed to gravitate towards the kids, when quite honestly, that was the last thing I wanted to talk about when I got the afternoon away. And then it was my fault…when they had asked in the first place…and finally, we all tired of it and drifted apart.

    • Momma425

      That same thing happened to me- I didn’t get out of the house much after my daughter was born, so when a good friend was in town visiting, I jumped at the opportunity to visit her. She told me all about her last year of college, and traveling. And the only questions she asked me were baby related.

      Later, I heard from a mutual friend that she thought I had changed, and all I talked about was baby stuff. I was so offended. All she asked me about was baby stuff. Needless to say- that is one person I will be happy to try catching up with later, maybe after she has a family of her own.

      That’s the great thing about friends. While drifting away can suck- it is often times not good-bye for good. Sometimes, all it means is, “hey, we’re in different places right now. Maybe in a couple years, we will have something in common again and can catch up and start again.” I’ve already done that with a few friends who had little interest in my daughter when she was a baby, but find her tolerable now that she is older (plus less likely to scream and us have to bail in the middle of dinner, which happened a lot when she was two). Or friends who have had a baby recently. Or friends who have gotten married recently.

    • Kay_Sue

      I’m at the same point. We’re coming full circle now, because most of them have been out of college, gotten jobs, and are starting their families. It’s kind of neat to reconnect and see how they’ve changed.

  • rrlo

    I went from going out about 3 times a week with friends to about once a month after kid 1. And almost 0 times a month since I’ve been pregnant. I don’t think it is unusual – especially when working full-time with really young kids. Something has to give and time with friends is one of the first to go.

    But I wouldn’t say that I abandoned anyone. We still send texts, call each other, use other social media. I know they are there if I need them and the opposite. And when my kids are a bit older and need me less – I know I’ll get my social life back because that’s who I am.

    I have family back in my birth country whom I have not seen in almost 10 years. I still love them, they are still a huge part of my life and when I do see them – it is glorious and wonderful. So I know that I don’t have to see anyone on a regular basis to care for them. We just have to care.

  • Kendra

    The easiest solution here, is to not have any friends at all! (Just kidding, well kind of). I’m pretty much down to one female friend (aside from my sisters) and we hardly ever talk anymore. She is childless and has been TTC for 2+ years now. Most of the reasons we aren’t in touch as much are because we’ve both got very different and very busy lives. Another reason is because I feel badly when I call her because I always end up on the topic of my daughter at least once, and that generally leads to us discussing her TTC issues. I hate to be the person that constantly forces that topic to the front for her. Other than her though, I generally just socialize with the girls I work with, and of course I have “facebook friends” as well as some “mom friends” I met through pregnancy apps and instagram. But I was never really someone who “went out” so that hasn’t really changed.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I also have friends TTC, and it does bring up some awkwardness because I don’t want to hurt them with stories about my kids. My very, very close girlfriend is really open with me about all of her pregnancy ups and downs, and I’d like to think we have a great closeness about the whole thing.

    • Kendra

      I can agree with that. I just feel like I’m bringing her down whenever it comes up. Sometimes I think that she likes talking to me about it because we have a common ground there, and I understand a lot of the more private things. But it does make me feel so guilty at the same time. And sad.

    • rrlo

      You know my husband only ever had one good friend. He is an introvert and doesn’t really need to socialize that much.

      Aside from his one good friend, he has me, his brother-in-law and his dad and we provide all the support that he requires. Sometimes I bug him about it but he is perfectly content.

    • Kendra

      I am a total introvert. The definition of the word. I love sites like these because I socialize about the things that I enjoy talking about and have opinions on, but I don’t have to worry about the face-to-face stuff that I’m terrible at. My husband sometimes worries that I’m lonely, but I’m the farthest thing from lonely. I don’t know that I’ve ever been lonely. I find my time by myself to be perfectly enjoyable. I love my daughter, she is excellent company. I talk to my sisters and my mom several times a week, if not daily. My husband is not an introvert so he does enjoy going with his friends on the weekends. His friends, by the way, have all decided that I don’t love him or care about him because I allow him to go about his business as he pleases and don’t demand he be home at certain times. Being an introvert is definitely a complicated business. I find a lot of people don’t understand me. I’ve been called an “unsociable bitch” by some of the wives of people he used to hang out with. I’m shy, I’m quiet, I’m awkward, and I don’t drink. So, all in all, nobody really likes hanging out with me anyway! Until they get to know me that is.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I am super jealous of everything you described. I’m an extrovert and I really like being an extrovert, but a lot of that has been fueled by loneliness.

    • Kendra

      Well that’s something I’ve never heard before! This has just recently come to my attention though, how lucky I am to be happy alone. My husband’s friend has a new girlfriend who cannot seem to be alone, EVER. I can’t understand that, but I’m definitely glad that I’m not that way. Although, being able to socialize without extensive effort would be refreshing!

    • Bethany Ramos

      You should feel very lucky!! I am working on being alone, and I love my personality, but ugh – I have felt so lonely in my life.

    • Guest

      My husband’s coworker went from dating a hot mess to a heart surgeon and was asking him why the lady wasn’t texting him all day constantly. He told him a real (independent) woman has her own shit going on so she doesn’t need to constantly be clinging on to you. I was hoping to meet this heart surgeon lady cause she sounds like my type of gal especially since all his other coworker’s wives are giant pains in the ass. :-/

    • Jill

      It is like you’re writing the story of my life. :)

  • Shannon

    My husband and I were 23 when our daughter was born. Needless to say, we didn’t ditch our friends, they ditched us.

  • Bewilderment

    I am one of the last of my group to get pregnant, as one of those childless friends (well not anymore) I can honestly say that it’s one thing to hang out in a child/adult neutral place… if you can find one. I did go to the park with my friends and play on the equipment with their kids fairly often. I am a bit of a swing junkie… Even went out of my way to take one and her kid to this really huge indoor play park (I can’t wait to take my daughter) But I understand people who just aren’t into that kind of stuff.
    Most of my husbands friends are bar flies, I really can’t see them wanting to go to a kids place unless it serves booze like chuck-e-cheese… And then they would probably get us kicked out for being louder than all the kids combined and breaking the games. lol

  • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

    I usually see my friends who don’t have kids at night, when I can go out without my kid. There was a period of time when this was impossible too, because I was nursing, but my good friends were understanding of that. It’s not that any of them have said they prefer to hang out without the kid, but I find it a thousand times easier to concentrate when my kid isn’t around. With one exception, I haven’t lost any friends since having a kid. The one exception is someone with whom I felt like I was ALWAYS the one making the effort (even pre-kid) and after having a kid, I stopped putting up with it. I stopped making an effort and she either didn’t care or didn’t notice. No loss really.

    I do have a couple of friends without kids who aren’t the most understanding…like they don’t quite get that I just cannot be as spontaneous as before, or they will invite us all over for dinner (kid included) but aren’t so understanding that we’ll have to leave fairly early. So then I invite them over to our place instead – so we could have dinner, then continue hanging out after the kid’s in bed – but they make excuses about not wanting to come all the way to the east end (where we live). So that’s irritating.

  • Upsilon

    I have never understood this conundrum. My group of friends is about half with kids, half without. We all get together for backyard bbqs, kid-friendly restaurants, outdoor food trailers, day trips to a lake/river, or dinner at one of the parent’s house so they can put junior down in another room when it gets late. It aint no thang. Good friends should find a way to accommodate each other

  • TashaB

    We were the first in our immediate friend group to have a child, and we haven’t really lost any friends. We do have (mostly single dude) friends who we see much less frequently (ie. only at later at night bar stuff), but we still see almost everyone. We do brunch, park dates, early dinners where one of us bails with the kid while the other sticks around, or later things where one of us goes first and then the other later in the evening. Most of our friends have made fantastic aunties or uncles.
    I don’t get people the above people who stop talking to their other friends.

  • aCongaLine

    I’ve been blessed with the “Summer Camp” variety of close friends… we have an ability to go for long stretches of time without talking, and just pick up where we left off the last time when we do see each other. Everyone’s crazy busy, and no two schedules are alike. It’s comforting to know that there’s no bullshit, and no judgement when one or some of us fall off the face of the earth for a while. SOme have kids, some have spouses, some have both and others have neither- but if I were to pick up the phone and call, or stop by, it’d be NBD that it had been weeks or months since I last saw/spoke to them. Everybody’s busy, but everybody’d drop everything if I needed them, and vice versa.

    Thank God, because otherwise, I’d have minus zero friends.

  • Guest

    Thank you for this post! I’m the one whose best friend has, for lack of a better word, ditched me. Things weren’t too bad until she went back to work, and now I hardly hear from her. I offered to meet with her with her child, go to her place, whatever, so that I could at least see her. All I seem to get is her making last minute plans about once a month now (“are you free this second on Sat.”). I’m trying to understand her challenges, but it’s difficult for me when I’m just feeling hurt.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Sounds like you are doing all you can! I hope you get the chance to talk to her or send her an email to try to clear the air.