Recently I wanted to catch up with relatives and had cool career news to share, but I could not get anyone to have a conversation with ME that didn't revolve around kid-related topics.
I do understand this will die down eventually, but I might go nuts before then. Is there any hope I can successfully insist they let me be Nicki again?
— Reclaiming My Identity
Reclaiming My Identity: Did you insist unsuccessfully? Did you ask explicitly for what you wanted? “Motherhood is great. I’d just love to be Nicki for a bit instead of Mom.”
This won’t help you with clueless people or those looking to justify their dislike for you — I can just hear them grumbling to anyone who will listen that “Nicki made everything all about her!”
But anyone else will, I hope, appreciate the clear guidance. I expect a lot of people catching up with a newish parent feel obligated to ask you about your child and how parenthood is going.
So, frame this in your mind as letting them all off the hook as you kindly redirect conversations to whatever else you’d rather discuss.
Hi, Carolyn: What phrases do you have for a 40-something woman who wants her in-laws to respect her body autonomy? I am not close to my husband's extended family by any means, with the exception of my mother- and father-in-law. But his whole family is touchy-feely and certain people get offended if I don't hug them, making comments like, "Oh, you don't want to hug me, huh?" and pouting about it.
No, I don't want to hug my husband's uncles; they make me uncomfortable. I resent how they make it seem like I'm the problem when I say, "No hugs," or "Hi, let's not hug."
— Let's Not
Let’s Not: You already have the words and shared them here. “No hugs.” “Hi, let’s not hug.”
Their offense is not your problem, especially now, when aggressive touchy-feelies are a health hazard. On top of the usual rude. So the problem isn’t that his family is offended and pouting, it’s that you’re letting their offended pouting get to you.
Right? You have every right to say no. I think it’s great you do — not everyone has the presence of mind (or presence of spine) in the moment to be so assertive in the face of potentially awkward consequences.
So please just finish the badassery job and let them pout all they want. Channel Amy Poehler, as quoted in Tina Fey’s “Bossypants.” When Jimmy Fallon reacted badly to a Poehler joke, she “wheeled around on him. ‘I don’t [bleeping] care if you like it.’ ”