Mom needs friendship to escape the kids

Dear Amy: I am married with three very young kids. My good friend is single.

One of the things I truly enjoy about my friend is that she is in a different place in life. Her schedule is flexible, and she is always willing to spend time with me on my tighter, more inflexible schedule. She doesn’t talk about kids or husband or compare her “mom” life to mine.

It is so nice for me to go out together and turn off my “mom” brain, and to feel like a person independent of my family.

Lately, she has been asking to come over to my house to cook for my family. The first time she asked, she said she was going through a difficult time and so I told her to come on over. We had a nice time, but I felt anxious and stressed the entire meal. Later, talking to my husband, I realized it has so much to do with wanting to compartmentalize my “worlds.” I enjoy my friend, but I don’t want to have to clean my house for her. I don’t want her to see my kids throwing fits at dinnertime. I don’t want a potty accident to take over the evening.

I want to have one person outside of my family life that is just for me to enjoy.

I mentioned to my friend how I don’t like to host, but she reinforces that I don’t need to clean for her and she understands that kids can be disruptive.

I don’t think she understands my anxiety around the whole idea.

Home is filled with love and laughter, but it is also where we fall apart and make chaos and create mess.

How can I tell her this, and still keep the valued friendship? Or should I just get over my anxiety about it for the good of the friendship?

— Upset

Dear Upset: My sisters and I have a shorthand way of communicating, based on an old advertisement: “Calgon, take me away.” When we say this to each other, we mean — “If I don’t get away from my kids, I’m going to l-o-o-o-s-e my mind.”

It’s OK to see to your own needs! And you need occasional restorative time away from your family. Every parent does.

So tell your friend: “I love my family. I love spending time with you. But what I really want, and need … is to get away from my kids; to be me — only me — now and then. Can you help me with that?”

Your pal sounds awesome. She has needs, too! She may be longing for a good dose of what you have. I hope you will occasionally loop her into your family’s poopy, messy, chaotic life. But first — you do you.

Dear Amy: Recently my neighbor boy (age 7), ran out of his house yelling that his dad was looking at naked ladies on his computer, and it was “sick.”

Not sure what, if anything, I should have done. Should I mind my own business? Say something to dad, or … do something else altogether?

— A Denver Fan

Dear Denver Fan: Any time a child is in distress — for any reason — you should first concentrate on the child, comfort the child and make sure that he is OK.

Then yes, if possible you should speak to the parent and make sure he realizes that his son ran out of the house and seemed distressed. It is best to remain neutral during this conversation with the parent, and simply report that the child was upset and that you did your best to comfort him.

Dear Amy: Thank you for your response to the “Symphony Subscriber.” As a classical musician by profession, nothing makes me angrier than seeing someone record a performance.

Depending on the venue, ushers are not always helpful.

I have on many occasions tracked someone down at intermission and told them to delete their video, or stop recording. It is disruptive to other audience members, but more than that, it is disrespectful to the musicians. A live concert should be enjoyed in the present moment. We work very hard to create a concert experience, which is what you pay for when you buy a ticket. This is how we make our livelihood, and recordings are a separate part of that — not something we give away for free!

Thanks for your “sound” advice!

— Musician

Dear Musician: Thank you — so sincerely — for the music you bring into the world.