Dear Amy: I have a toddler and a baby. When I was a first-time mom, I’d get annoyed at the barrage of unsolicited advice from friends.

One of my closest friends has a daughter who is almost a year old. She lives out of state without family nearby, and does not have many friends or people that she trusts.

One time, I offered unsolicited advice to her, and she snapped at me. I apologized and recognized that it’s annoying when people do that.

I thought we’d moved past it.

Recently, as she was talking about her daughter entering the challenging toddler stage, she said to me: “You’ve been there. Why aren’t you giving me suggestions?”

I gave her a couple of ideas, but reminded her that each child is different.

A few days later she texted me, saying she was upset because my suggestions were not helpful.

I apologized and then offered to send her a book I’ve found very helpful.

Now she is upset, saying that she doesn’t have time to read a book. I then told her the book’s author has a podcast, social media accounts and articles, but beyond that, I am at a loss. I feel that she is expecting me to have all the answers for her.

She truly is a good and very solid friend. I don’t know what is going on with her. How do I tell her that I want to share the ups and downs of motherhood, but I do not know how to help without making her angry?

— Perplexed Mama

Dear Perplexed: I think you should be concerned about your friend’s health. She is isolated, grouchy, frustrated, and short-tempered. She is alienating you, a very close and trusted friend. From what you report, she is not acting like herself.

Say to her, “This phase of being a mom is so challenging and you don’t seem like yourself lately. Are you OK?”

As frustrating as her behavior is, I hope you will be extra-compassionate toward her. URGE her to see her healthcare provider to be screened for depression. Postpartum depression can overwhelm a new mother up to a year after giving birth. And non-postpartum depression can strike at any time.

Don’t wait for her to contact you. Text her every day. Keep the line open until you are assured that she is able to take good care of herself and her child.

When she is in a better place, you can express some of your frustration about how boxed-in you feel.

Dear Amy: My mother-in-law will sometimes cancel her plans with us, texting us that she can’t come, usually the day before. The text is usually blunt: “I won’t be able to make it tomorrow because I have a work project that I got behind on.”

She then typically follows with, “Since I couldn’t make it this week, I’ll plan to come sleep over next week.”

We live just over an hour away from her, so she knows that she’s welcome to sleep over. However, it annoys me when she cancels, because my children look forward to her coming, and I often cook a special meal, ready our spare room, or prepare for her in other ways.

It also bothers me that she doesn’t feel the need to apologize. So, I have decided not to answer her texts when she is canceling. However, recently she let me know that she thinks it’s rude of us not to respond to her change-of-plans texts.

Am I wrong here? Is there any polite and respectful way to respond to her?

— Disappointed DIL

Dear Disappointed: I agree with you that you are owed a more polite acknowledgment. I agree with your MIL that you should respond to her texts.

Demonstrate polite communication. When she bluntly cancels, you should respond: “That’s a shame! The kids and I will be disappointed, but thank you for letting me know. We’ll hope to see you next week.”

In the future, you should let her know that, unless it’s an emergency, you’d really appreciate more notice when she changes her plans.

Dear Amy: I agree with others about how important it is to simply thank someone when they prepare a meal, especially when that person is a family member. Do you want your wife/mom/dad to make you a nice meal tomorrow? Then thank them today!

— Grateful

Dear Grateful: During the Pandemic, with adult children living at home and cooking meals for the family, I have experienced how often gratitude inspires future effort.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2020 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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