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Daddy’s Little Girl

Last May, my beautiful goddaughter, Sally, turned 1 and I was blessed to be included in this event. I have known said goddaughter’s mom ,Barb, since high school and we are the best of friends. One year prior to this event I was in the delivery room as Sally was born and stayed overnight until Sally and Barb were released from the hospital. Ever since I have been supportive of Barb and Sally in every way possible causing most of Barb’s family members to refer to me as the Baby Daddy (and yes I am female!)

Sally’s real dad, Mike, lives two states away but has (for the most part) been present for the special occasions including Sally’s first birthday. The day started nicely with lots of sunshine and family members on their best behavior. I had come early to help set up and volunteered to help Barb’s sister collect a few last minute items at the store. Mike spent most of the pre-party day in the basement putting together a really cute wagon/tricycle. The day moved on and it came time for cake cutting. Barb’s dad asked who would like to cut the cake as Barb was busy with Sally (still nursing).  I said I would as I have much experience doing so as my grandmother has worked in the catering business for 60 years and has taught me how to cut cake swiftly. Suddenly Mike says that he wants to do it as it is his daughter’s cake. I said okay would you like some help.

Now just a small tangent. Mike and I are not friends. He has annoyed me in the past and I was putting on my friendly face to deal with him. He has made several small comments in the past (and present) about my relationship with Sally and Barb. Barb and I are very close and have been mistaken for a couple on many occasions. We aren’t a couple but have been friends for many years and the fact that I watched her give birth has made us even closer. (I often joke that I watched her give birth and she didnt!) Sally and I are very close as well and I spend a great deal of time with her including her spending the night at my house.

Now back to the story at hand. Earlier in the day, Sally refused to come to Mike and screamed when he tried to pick her up. She ran to me and would not let me put her down. (This has happened before.) Now I don’t know if this had something to do with his attitude but he responded with a firm, “No.” I left it alone and since Sally was not interested in cake we began opening her gifts. I looked over to Mike cutting the cake to see him using his fingers to place the cake on plates. I approached Mike and said, “Hey, you shouldn’t touch other people’s cake. Its unsanitary.” Mike replied, “Stop being a germaphobe. My hands are clean. I just washed them.” My reply was, ” Its still unsanitary. Use a fork.”  Mike then shouted, ” Look I got this. Its my daughter’s cake.” At that point I threw up my hands and went to help with the gifts. As gift unwrapping ended Barb mentioned that it was late and I needed to get going. ( I had just finished graduate school and was going to a party held in my honor) As I got up Mike stated, “You not staying to help clean up?”  I replied (curtly), “No, I have a party.” Mike, “Well I see where your priorities are.” I did not reply and simply walked upstairs to exit the house.

Now I had already cleared my early departure with Barb and her parents. This party was being held in mine and 4 other girls’ honors but they had stated they were not going to start the festivity until I arrived. As I exited,  Barb’s mom asked where I was going and before I could answer her husband stated, “Her graduation party.”   I stated (to them only), “And plus I need to leave before I commit murder and get blood on your newly painted walls.” (Barb’s dad is a cop) They both giggled and said have fun at the party.

The holidays are fast approaching and I am worried that Mike will get the best of me and my friendly face will disappear. So I need some advice on how to handle a P.I.T.A barely there father who gets pissed at me because his daughter does not know him? Thanks! 1209-11

I’m afraid you won’t like my answer one bit.     By your own admission, Mike has made the effort to travel from two states away to be there for important milestones in Sally’s life.  We can deduce from your story that Mike is not persona non grata or some nefarious influence but is being invited into Sally’s mother and grandparents’ home to participate in his daughter’s life.  The fact that you mention there will be future functions where Mike, Sally and Barb will be in attendance indicates that Barb and her parents are extending invitations to Mike and apparently will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

You further mention that everyone in the family is “on their best behavior”.  Everyone but you, it appears.  You are the one who initiates the conflict.  When Barb’s dad asked who would cut the cake, and Mike stepped up to take on that task and Barb’s dad delegates that task to him.  Mike declines your offer of help yet you can’t help interfering with criticism on how he is cutting and serving the cake.   Neither the host or hostess appears to have a problem with how Mike is executing this so why would you think you had the authority to assume oversight as if you were the host of this party?   If you don’t want Mike’s fingers touching your cake, simply wait til he’s done cutting the majority of the cake and cut your own piece later or decline to eat any.   A piece of cake isn’t worth the angst you created.    And Barb’s parents’ giggles may have been nervous titters one does when confronted with a comment that was quite inappropriate.    You appear to have been contributing to the tension in the party.

When Sally refused to go to Mike, you should have kindly told him that this is a common phase in small children to have stranger anxiety and then worked to encourage Sally to get  more comfortable with Mike.   I view it as a positive that Mike was upset that his daughter did not want to come to him.   I don’t view it as positive that you seem to relish this.

If you love Sally, you will do nothing whatsoever to undermine her relationship with her father.   She will need her father and you are not her father.   You should have a common goal with Mike, Barb and Barb’s parents to pursue what is in the best interests of Sally.  Being contentious with Mike in Barb’s parents’ home is not in Sally’s best interests since it has the potential effect of discouraging Mike from attending future events in which it is quite likely you will also be invited.   If you love Sally, you will not only not undermine her relationship with her father but should be encouraging it as best you can.

{ 165 comments… add one }
  • MidoriBird December 15, 2011, 6:29 am

    When my sister birthed her son, I was in the delivery room with her and her husband at her request. I was honored. I did not (and still do not) like her now-ex husband; he rubbed me the wrong way and most of my efforts around him involved a plastered smile on my face. He kept hanging back during the birth so my sister asked me to hold her hand. I got to see my nephew born and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen; it is still very clear in my memory. I kept telling my BIL (and my sister kept asking him) to come over and hold her hand and more closely witness his own son’s birth; I’d step back and invite him over to take my place. Repeatedly. But he kept hanging back and shaking his head. At the time I finally chalked it up to him maybe having a fear of blood or something.

    A few days later I am told he resented my presence there and felt I’d “interfered” what should have been an important moment to him. That ruined the happiness and joy I’d felt at my nephew’s birth. My sister told me it is him she blames, not me. She’d asked for my presence and we’d both repeatedly urged him at her side where we felt he belonged and he kept refusing.

    Now that thought overshadows everything about that event for me and just makes me feel sad, useless, and in the way. I declined any sort of neonatal involvement whatsoever when my sister became pregnant again four years later with my niece.

    I have Asperger’s and the thought that I end up in someone else’s way or do something wrong is never far from my mind, since I have a few certain difficulties. I probably go to greater lengths than most to try and ensure I don’t end up inadvertently offending anyone.

  • Melnick December 15, 2011, 6:59 am

    I have to admit that I felt sorry for Mike as I read the post. It seems the OP is trying to take his place. It’s wonderful that she is still so close to Barb but there needs to be some space for them to carve out their own family unit.

    It is hard enough for a father to find their feet with kids. My kids often reached for me over their very attentive, extremely loving father in their early years and it pierced him deeply. We both knew that it was temporary but the rejection is agonising.

    Why wouldn’t first option of cutting the cake and opening the presents be given to Mike? He is her father and deserves to be deferred to that way. I would have been highly offended if you came in over the top of me. A child’s 1st birthday is a very special event and rite of passage for a parent. And then to criticise him … OP clearly relishes being the ‘baby daddy’.

    The role of godmother is a very special role in itself. You don’t need to take away from the father’s role. If you wish to do the best thing by Sally and Barb, foster a loving and supportive relationship with Mike. Make it easy for them to spend time with you with him so they don’t feel they have to choose to avoid tension. One of the most important relationships a little girl can have is with her father. Don’t in any way ever be responsible for tainting that. He is her dad and that is that – encourage the relationship.

  • Kathryn December 15, 2011, 7:24 am

    I agree with the admin, but you have my very heartfelt sympathies!! You’re practically family to Barb, Sally and even Mike, and family can often rub each other the wrong way. Keep your polite faces on and stay out of each other’s space.

  • Edhla December 15, 2011, 7:52 am

    I totally and 100% agree with you, admin.

    OP, I’m sorry, but in reading this you seem to have “boundary issues.” I can sort of understand it. I am very, very close to my sister’s children and sometimes I need to remember that I’m NOT their mother, and that others need to be involved too. For example, I go to my parent’s place when the little ones are visiting and we all have a family get-together of a Friday night. When my mother comes home from work, I will nudge whichever little one is on my knee at the time (and sometimes it’s both!) and whisper “go say hello and give Nana a hug, please.” It’s not that they don’t adore Nana or that they don’t want to hug her, they’re just kids who think I’m awesome cool fun and that sometimes causes others to feel left out or as if I’m somehow monopolising the kids.

    It does sadly sound as if you are monopolising Sally. She has a father, and that father is Mike, not you, no matter your opinion of him. It’s lovely to feel wanted, but you need to understand where you fit in in the scheme of things. Godmother? Awesome. You’re going to be a very special person in Sally’s life. But please, please for the love of Jimminy CRICKETS, please do not interfere with Barb or Sally’s relationship with Mike.

    Cake. You started an argument at a baby’s birthday party- about cake. This would also no doubt have put stress on Barb and her parents, too, so you really weren’t doing anyone any favours at all. No doubt Mike was already nonplussed by your behaviour toward Sally, hence his getting territorial over the cake itself. That you then criticised, publicly, the way he DID it was clearly the last straw.

    Mike’s comment about priorities was rude, and I don’t think anyone would dispute that, but here’s an angle you may not have considered: to him, you were all about whisking Sally off and not letting him spend time with a child he clearly doesn’t spend enough time with already. Once you had started a fight (about cake! CAKE!) and monopolised his daughter, you were off, leaving the mess to be cleaned by someone else. That you left wasn’t a problem in and of itself, I’m sure, but then I’m also sure the remark wouldn’t have been made if your “priorities” weren’t making sure Mike saw as little of Sally as possible. He is not going to be able to have a relationship with his daughter if you and other people around Barb make it as difficult for him as possible. On purpose.

  • Sarah Jane December 15, 2011, 9:21 am

    Just to be clear…you are the baby’s GODMOTHER, right? And just to make sure I understand, a godparent has a spiritual obligation to the child, but no legal rights to their upbringing…and may be considered an honorary member of the family if there is no legal relationship…is that correct? I’d welcome any additional information on this if any other posters would like to chime in.

    Why do you refer to Mike as Sally’s “real dad”? And why does the fact that people refer to you as the “Baby Daddy” amuse you so much?

    Most of all, how is it that you find yourself in the position to be “annoyed” by your goddaughter’s father and are so willing to air your dramatics to the baby’s maternal grandparents?

    Your criticism of Mike’s cake-cutting was both petty and unnecessarily confrontational, and the “blood/murder” comment was way out of line. This was a child’s birthday party, was it not? The fact that Mike seems uncomfortable with your “close” presence in his daughter’s life does not surprise me.

  • Angela December 15, 2011, 9:37 am

    I was in the LW’s camp until the fingers and cake thing. It’s not a big deal to use clean hands to move a piece of cake and to publicly correct him would be rude no matter what your relationship is. As for the “this is common for kids to cling to someone they know” speech, yes that would have been good but not everyone can whip out an appropriate, cohesive speech on the spot.

  • L.J. December 15, 2011, 9:47 am

    When Barb gets into a relationship, you are going to feel sidelined and forgotten. Protect yourself from that by stepping back some now and building your own life, separate from hers and Sally’s. You can still be a supportive friend without trying to be the other parent.

  • alex December 15, 2011, 10:02 am

    I’m sorry OP but I feel like you were the rude one here. He IS Sally’s father and he wants to be involved in her life. If they keep inviting him from two states away, and he comes then he obviously wants to be there and they want him there! When he offered to cut the cake you should have left it at that. To go over while he was cutting it (and you had your responsibility with the gifts) and tell him he wasn’t cutting it right was extremely rude. I honestly don’t know who doesn’t touch the cake when they are cutting it. I don’t think I have ever seen anyone!

    Now, when Sally refused to go to Mike it seems like you almost think you are more important in her life than her father is. To love a child as much as you do you should see that it is important for her to have a relationship with and be comfortable with her father. So you should have encouraged her to go to him. I will admit, this is not always the case but her dad obviously wants to have a relationship with his daughter and you basically relished in the fact she wouldn’t go to him. I would say that is childish and immature. Sorry OP, but realize that the more people a child has in their lives that love and adore them the better.

  • Kathy December 15, 2011, 10:22 am


  • Wink-n-Smile December 15, 2011, 10:24 am

    I absolutely agree with Admin on this one.

  • Kitty Lizard December 15, 2011, 10:29 am

    The OP’s jealousy of Mike is incredibly clear in her letter, along with an odd edge of – I don’t know – extreme possessiveness? Babby daddy? A couple? I just got some really odd vibes from the language. At
    any rate, the letter writer needs to back off. I think a time out from this entire family might be
    appropriate. It might also be a relief to the family.

  • Gracie C. December 15, 2011, 10:33 am

    Hear hear, Admin! I grew more and more furious with the OP as I continued to read. And I’m not sure why one needs a history in catering to cut a cake. Superiority complex much?

  • Shawn December 15, 2011, 10:36 am

    I agree with the moderator. You appear to be trying to drive a wedge between Mike and his daughter, and the criticism of his cake cutting skills was unecessary. The guy drove two states to be at his daughter’s party, and he sees you trying to minimize his role in the lives of his daughter and in-laws. You seriously need to step back, and took a look in the mirror.

  • Hemi Halliwell December 15, 2011, 10:43 am

    I agree with Admin that the OP should not intentionally undermine the relationship between Sally & Mike. However, I think Mike needs to understand that since he only sees his daughter on special occasions/milestones, that Sally *might* view him as a stranger whereas she sees the OP on an almost daily basis. As she gets older I’m sure that will change.
    It seems as though Mike resents the OP as much as she dislikes him. Mike and Barb decided to have a child even though he leaves 2 states away and he should be glad that Barb has a strong support system that includes a friend like OP.
    His snarky comment about her not staying to help clean up and he sees where her priorities are- not cool. I’m sure it was in response to the cake cutting incident but still not cool.

  • vanessaga December 15, 2011, 10:56 am

    I think your heart is in the right place as far as feelings of friendship towards a longtime friend and her child. However, I feel that there is an underlying feeling of jealousy towards anyone who may have a claim on a similar or closer relationship with either party. Maybe your feelings are not romantic ij n nature but they are every bit as possesive as that of a jealous lover. Understand that Mike is Sally’s father and that is an important relationship. It is not up to you to micromanage, undermine or control.

  • WildIrishRose December 15, 2011, 11:00 am

    Yup, what Admin said. You were unnecessarily rude to Mike. The whole cake thing was just silly. Encouraging Sally to flee from her father, or at least NOT encouraging her to embrace her father, comes across as smug and self-serving.

    My father bailed when I was a very small child, and I don’t even remember him. He never came to visit, and if he ever wrote or sent cards or anything, my mother and grandmother intercepted them. Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s not your place to adversely affect Sally’s relationship with her father. He’s at least making an effort. You owe him an apology, as far as I’m concerned, and you owe Barb’s parents an apology for that tacky remark you made.

  • KMC December 15, 2011, 11:07 am

    I have to agree with the Admin on this one. It almost appears to me that you kept pushing yourself into situations with Mike hoping he would get upset and then you could blame him for causing drama. If someone had asked me who wanted to cut the cake, I would have automatically looked to one of her parents who would surely want to volunteer (and Mike did), rather than speaking up before one of them had a chance.

    I would also start discouraging Barb’s family from calling you the “Baby Daddy.” It’s unkind to Mike. And you need to start making sure that Sally understands you are a friend and love her, but you are NOT her parent.

  • Wendy December 15, 2011, 11:10 am

    Good response, Admin.

    I think the first red flag I saw was everyone referring to OP as “Baby Daddy.” To me, this indicates almost too much involvement in the child’s life, even if she is the godmother. I’m glad she and the mother are such good friends and that the mother has (apparently) welcomed OP to step in and help out, but she also has other family to support her and if OP is so involved she has earned that nickname, there may be a problem.

    Mike appears to be doing his best in a difficult situation…he’s making a long trip several times a year to visit his daughter and take part in important events. Perhaps he could/should be taking her for extended visits as well, but not knowing how everything is structured, I can’t really comment. But whether or not OP is friends with Mike is beside the point…he is her real daddy and if he is making an effort to be in her life, that should be encouraged. I think OP needs to back away and ask someone she trusts for a true evaluation of what her role appears to be, and then move on from there.

    (By the way, OP…I commend you for wanting to step in and help your friend, I really do. It’s a big responsibility raising a child as a single parent and I’m sure the mom appreciates all the help and support she can get!)

  • Kate December 15, 2011, 11:13 am

    I feel sorry for Mike in this story. The poster didn’t have to be so short with him about the fact she was leaving early, and it seems a little rude to outright call someone out for being ‘unsanitary’.

  • jena rogers December 15, 2011, 11:16 am

    I agree with everything in the response except where you advise her to tell the dad that his daughter has “stranger anxiety.” Regardless of the technical definition or the truth of that phrase, it will come off badly, since “Dad” is basically being referred to as the stranger; whether or not that’s the case, it sounds insulting, and would more likely fuel the fire. Also, I think it takes a lot of audacity for anyone who is NOT the parent to give an unsolicited explanation about a child’s behavior to the parent.

  • A December 15, 2011, 11:16 am

    Ah, yes. The Admin response hit the nail right on the head.

    The OP’s superior tone had me irked just reading her story.

  • kjr December 15, 2011, 11:23 am

    I agree with admin. I think you have good intentions with Barb and Sally, and it sounds like they are lucky to have you in their lives, but you need to take a step back when the father is present. He sounds like he wants to be a father to Sally, and the only reason she doesn’t know him as well as you, is due to him living 2 states away. There is obviously jealousy from him on your closeness to Sally, and she deserves to have a good relationship with her father, so why do anything to create tension?

  • Rhonda December 15, 2011, 11:25 am

    “So I need some advice on how to handle a P.I.T.A barely there father who gets pissed at me because his daughter does not know him? ”

    You butt out.

    If you want to be a parent, give birth to or adopt a kid of your own.

    I don’t have kids, but am a loving aunt to my brother’s three kids. I know my boundaries, thought. Never, never, never would I come between any of those kids and either parent.

    If I were “Mike” in this story, I would tell “Barb” that I want half-and-half shared custody, and would spend my time bonding with the little girl in hopes of loosening the child’s bond with Interfering Bitchy Godmother who tries to turn daughter against father.

    Shudder. It gives me the creeps to think of this toxic situaton created by the OP. No wonder the parents were happy to see her leave the party. Everyone could relax and enjoy themselves without fear of criticism.

  • S December 15, 2011, 11:26 am

    I have to agree with Admin.

    If Barb has included Sally’s father in these events then special respect much be paid to the father of the child, regardless if he is there everyday or only occasionally.

    We don’t know the back story about Barb and the father of Sally. Perhaps he’s a real jerk and that is why OP seems to want to edge him out. But he must be decent enough of a person for him to be invited into Barb’s home. Many single parents I know would not be as gracious to their ex.

    Mike was snarky as the OP was leaving which was unnecessary. Still, I imagine he is resentful of the time he doesn’t have with his daughter and for the fact that he had to share this precious time with anyone else. Especially maybe, a woman who has such a strong presence in the home.

    I agree that it wasn’t OP’s place to confront him about how he served the cake. A rude way to treat someone under any circumstances. Would OP have talked to Barbs mother that way? Or another friend at the party willing to help?

    When I was newly married I worked very hard to be of help to my in-laws. I volunteered for everything and helped any chance I got. I always went the extra mile. I insisted I was fine doing a lot of work and didn’t give others a chance to really help. I thought I was being helpful and nice. But I noticed I was irritating a lot of people. Over the years I can see that I acted the way I did because of a desire to be liked, accepted and needed within this new family. Once I backed off I found that people liked and responded to me BETTER than they had before. This may not be the OP’s situation but it probably wouldn’t hurt for her to review how many times she is ASKED to help compared to how often she OFFERS to do things.

  • Just Laura December 15, 2011, 11:37 am

    I was sad to read the little girl was afraid to let her father hold her, but the OP scooped up the child and proceeded to hold her. There are so many children who have absent fathers; finally, one is trying to be a good father, though he lives far away, and it’s like he can’t win. How kind it would have been for the OP to calm the child, then hand her to the father, or do as Admin said. All this dad wanted to do is be there for his daughter.

    I suppose I am lucky I didn’t die of disease when my father (with no family background in catering) cut my birthday cakes and may have accidentally touched a bit with his finger.

  • Joe J December 15, 2011, 11:40 am

    So the OP tells us that her apparent beef with Mike is that “he annoyed me in the past”. Right before she regales us with her charming anecdote about how his cake-handling isn’t up to her standards. My mind, it is boggling at OP’s lack of self-awareness.

  • Cat December 15, 2011, 11:48 am

    I have been to celebrations in which all sorts of unsanitary things were happening. In one, a child was picking up the boiled shrimp, putting them in his mouth, pulling them out, and putting them back on the platter for the other guests to eat. His parents said nothing.

    In another the birthday boy got a toy truck from his room and was “driving” it through the birthday cake over and over. Varoom! Varoom! His parents said nothing.

    Far be it from me to say anything. I just skipped the shrimp and the cake at these celebrations. I am not going to correct someone else’s little pumpkin if Mom and Dad think it’s ok.

    The only time I did say something was at school when a colleague came over to me, reached into my plate of food with her long fingernails, selected the piece of watermelon she desired, took and ate it. If you wish to put your face into the watermelon and have yourself a good old time, fine, but keep your hands out of my dinner plate!

  • Politrix December 15, 2011, 12:06 pm

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. OP may even want to try to extend an olive branch to Sally’s biological father, and maybe just meet privately over a cup of coffee or something to discuss their contentious relationship, so they can clear the air and try to move forward with at least some civility, especially with the holidays fast approaching.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith December 15, 2011, 12:11 pm

    I think it would be helpful for the letter writer to take to heart the excellent perspective of Admin. It might be of further benefit to reflect on why she appears to be motivated to interfere with the father’s presence in his daughter’s life, at least in small ways. Being mean spirited is worse than cutting cake improperly and a loved godmother would not want to find herself in the position of being deemed an emotional “squatter” who is trying to usurp the rights of other family members. Should her friend or the child’s grandparents come to such a conclusion, her own privilege of attending these functions might be revoked.

  • spartiechic December 15, 2011, 12:16 pm

    Brava Madame Admin!! I could not have said it any better. The OP sounds bitter and jealous of the role Mike has in little Sally’s life. Just because you’ve been there for her does not mean he has bowed out. He lives two states away and is doing the best he can to be there for his daughter. You seem to derive some petty satisfaction from the fact that Mike’s daughter would rather “choose” you over him (the admin makes a great point in stating that this is a phase and, instead of helping them to bond, you superciliously lord it over him). By making it a point that you and the mother seem like a couple, it makes me wonder if this is a wish of yours and that you view Mike as an intruder in your relationship. If so, you need to do some thinking and decide on what to do before you damage this little girl’s relationship with her father. She looks up to you and is watching every hostile thing you do in regards to Mike.

  • Chocobo December 15, 2011, 12:25 pm

    Well put, admin. Consciously or unconsciously, the OP is interfering with the relationship between father and daughter. A father who seems to be trying his best and wants to be involved, despite the distance. I can understand his irateness; if I were treated as an impostor to my own daughter by a non-relation, I would be upset too.

    When a child loves and idolizes you, it’s easy to fall into the trap of relishing the “best loved” status. If at all possible, a child’s “best loved” people should be his or her parents. It is wonderful for children to have the love and support of other adults, including relations and friends. But those adults should know when to be there, and when to step aside to make room for those whose relationships are more valuable than their own. That’s what the OP should have done, and what she should do in the future.

  • NotThumper December 15, 2011, 12:36 pm

    Sorry Admin, I have to disagree. The OP let him cut the cake but mentioning that using his fingers was unsanitary is not “helping” to me, it’s just common courtesy that I imagine someone else would do too if they had noticed. Truthfully, that sounds disgusting and if it were me I think I’d cut my own slice of cake.

  • Elodie December 15, 2011, 12:43 pm

    I’m…confused? And a wee bit troubled?

    I’d be annoyed, too, if someone put their fingers all over my food. OP is right; it’s unsanitary. While Mike had washed his hands, he didn’t have to call her a germaphobe. She could’ve been more polite about it, but I understand perfectly why she brought it up in the first place. Also, no, I won’t mangle my cake or not have cake while everyone else does because someone else put their hands on my food. Absolutely not.

    Also, Mike kept the tension going by making that snarky comment at OP for having to leave early and answering a question directed at her. What confuses me is that you don’t even acknowledge this. You rip into the OP for “starting the conflict” yet there’s not a word on Mike’s behavior.

    They’re both to blame for the conflict. OP might have been rude in her demanding tone when asking Mike to stop putting his fingers on the cake, but Mike only made things worse with his snippy attitude. From his reaction to her leaving early, it looks like he was petulantly trying to find something to call OP out on so he could make her look bad and he could feel like the better person. That’s my interpretation, anyway.

    It’s just very troubling, how one-sided your response is.

  • Lerah December 15, 2011, 12:43 pm

    I have to agree with the Admin on this one. Poster, you are in the wrong. It appears you have become territorial of both Barb and Sally causing you to act in a really cruel manner towards Sally’s father. You may not get along with him, but you are an adult. Suck it up, be nice (actually nice, not that “fake” nice which comes across as cutting and mean), and stop trying to “punish” this man for spending time with his daughter.

    It is obvious that you get to spend more time with Sally then he does. So maybe when he is around, you could encourage them to spend time together while you fade into the background for the day. If you and Barb are the best of friends, you should want what is best for her and her daughter. In this case, it appears the best thing you could do is grow up and put Sally’s needs above your own desire to put yourself in the center of this family.

  • AS December 15, 2011, 12:52 pm

    While reading the story, I kept feeling something was quite wrong there. Then I read admin’s comment and felt it was on the spot.

    We don’t know what kind of a person Mike is, but he does not seem to be a bad father or a husband. But unfortunately, he has to live 2 states away from his wife and daughter. He seems to be making every effort to be at the milestones though.

    OP seems to think that she is the second most important person after Barb in Sally’s life and scores above Sally’s own father. I can see him being unhappy about it. It seems that Barb does not stand up for her husband, and hence he has to do all the work. OP will have to let Barb have a life with her husband and child, and not have some kind of an open relationship (at least emotional one).
    The last sentence from Mike when OP was leaving could easily have been sarcastic comment.

  • Shiksagoddess December 15, 2011, 1:12 pm

    As difficult as it may be, grit your teeth and walk away. This is an instance where discretion really is the better part of valor. You cannot change Mike – you can change your reaction to him.

  • Enna December 15, 2011, 1:14 pm

    I agree with admim on this one, especially when you were provokative over how Mike cut the cake up. If you had seen him do something disgusting like pick his nose or sneeze THEN go to cut the cake you’d have had a point but then should be polite “Bess you! Do you want to use these wet wipes before you cut the cake?”. Like wise you should have encouraged Sally to go to her Dad.

  • Tyler December 15, 2011, 1:15 pm

    Let’s see… You come into this situation with hard feelings regarding Mike’s lack of participation in his daughter’s life, then initiate conflict when he actually does try to do something for his daughter, and then leave the party early for another engagement while making snide remarks. I fail to see how Mike is in any way at fault here. Granted, none of us knows Mike personally; he could be the scum of the earth or a swell guy just trying to do the best he can. Regardless, your behavior and attitude are only exacerbating the situation and adding unnecessary tension.

  • Ashley December 15, 2011, 1:19 pm

    I’m with admin on this one. Mike is obviously TRYING. YOU are the one who had issues with him touching the cake. YOU are the one who didn’t try to encourage Sally to interact with her father when she tried to pick her up. The guy is trying. He drove two states for her birthday. Help him.

  • gramma dishes December 15, 2011, 1:30 pm

    I agree with admin on this.

  • Raven December 15, 2011, 1:35 pm

    I agree with Admin’s assessment of this situation. OP seems to really enjoy the idea of being Sally’s other parent – whether or not it’s about Sally’s mom or not is irrelevant. OP thinks she is better at cutting cake because her grandmother is a caterer and taughter her to cut cake swiftly? Sorry, that’s not a skill that require intergenerational training, and doesn’t put OP in a better position to cut the cake than the child’s own father. I can just hear OP: “I should cut your daughters first birthday cake! Grandma taught ME to do it, not YOU! YOU won’t do it SWIFTLY enough!”

    This whole story smacks of self-congratulations; being a godparent is wonderful, but it doesn’t make you that child’s parent. The fact that “many” people confuse OP and Barb for a couple may indicate that OP constantly oversteps the appropriate boundaries of friendship.

  • Alli December 15, 2011, 1:38 pm

    A dad fly’s all that way and makes an effort to be in his daughters life. I applaud him and I applaud the mother and the mothers family for keeping that relationship going between the father and little Sally. The author of this story really irked me with her almost entitled attitude. Thank you so much admin for sticking up for the father and encouraging this foolish woman to change her tune.

  • Gee December 15, 2011, 1:43 pm

    I found it odd that the OP felt it important to mention that she knows how to cut a cake swiftly because of her experience in catering. Is it really that important? If a father wants to cut his daughter’s birthday cake, let him. It isn’t about who’s “better” at it.

    I can understand Mike’s annoyance with the OP. And if people are calling OP the “baby’s daddy”, he must feel very undermined by it. There’s nothing wrong with the OP being close to Sally and her mother, but I get the sense that she’s trying to push Sally’s father out of the picture, and that isn’t fair or right. Unless a father is abusive, he has a right to be in his child’s life.

  • Debra December 15, 2011, 1:57 pm

    I absolutely agree with the admin on this one.

  • sv December 15, 2011, 2:17 pm

    I’m with admin….sounds like you were overstepping a bit. I ‘m sure you feel quite protective of your friend and her little girl, but this is Mike’s daughter. Not yours. From what you described it seems like he was making every effort to be a part of his child’s day and fielding animosity from you likely didn’t make it any easier. Sorry, OP, I am sure you had the best of intentions and it is clear that you love both Barb and Sally, but they need to be the ones to define their relationship with Mike. Your role as a supportive friend and godmother is to be there to listen, but otherwise stay out of it.

  • Brenda December 15, 2011, 2:20 pm

    I have to agree with you, dear Auntie. Having been part of a blended family, and then working for a family law attorney (divorce, custody, etc.), the interfering friend/significant other/relative most often causes more stress for the parents and children than almost anything else (drug abuse, domestic violence are, of course, worse). Parents will work out arrangements, and will work on developing a new kind of relationship with each other, but there is often someone who just keeps pushing buttons and interfering with the process. The big problem is that these pests sincerely believe they are helping the situation, but it is obvious that they are making things worse.

    BTW, I no longer work in family law, because the stress and tension were just too much for me. Watching the show Monster In-Laws gave me flashbacks.

  • Calli Arcale December 15, 2011, 2:25 pm

    Wow! There’s clearly backstory we’re not privy to, but considering that Mike’s absence seems to be only due to geographic separation, I’m impressed he’s trying to be involved in his daughter’s life. It does not appear, after all, that he and Barb are married; so few absent fathers make this kind of effort. It appears he really wants to be involved in her life, as best he can under the circumstances. What struck me, though, was how the LW responded to losing the cake-cutting privilege by initiating the present opening. That struck me because she said the only reason cake-cutting was up for grabs was because Barb was busy nursing Sally. It’s awesome Barb is still nursing; few mothers hang in there so long. But if Barb’s too busy to cut cake, she’s obviously too busy to open presents. And Sally’s nursing — she can’t even see the presents, let alone open them. So who’s opening the presents?

    I find myself wondering who this birthday party is really for. It doesn’t seem to be for Sally, at least from the LW’s perspective. Everything in this story is about the LW — how she saw the birth, how this made her so close to Barb, how she and Barb are mistaken for a couple. She seems proud of that, which seems a tad creepy, actually — I’m not against homosexual relationships, but if they’re being mistaken for a couple, people will think she’s taken and it’ll cost her romantic opportunities. She comes across as territorial, basically.

    BTW, regarding touching the cake . . . if his hands have just been washed, I really don’t see the problem. It is not unsanitary if the hands are clean. The real reason pros try not to touch the cake when plating is actually to do with neatness — you don’t want to smudge the frosting or transfer crumbs between pieces (especially if it’s a marble cake, where this will be visually distracting). It affects presentation, not hygiene. This is a family birthday party; relax a bit, remember who it’s really for, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Divorced parents often run into this sort of thing all the time; if they can be civil with the ex for the sake of the child, so can a best friend.

  • Midge December 15, 2011, 2:41 pm

    Gotta go with the other posters on this one. Mike, whatever his faults (which are what, exactly), is clearly trying, and unless he’s abusive (in any of its many forms), he needs to be in his daughter’s life. He flies in from two states away–the OP almost frames this as proof of his jerkiness–and wants to cut the cake at his daughter’s birthday party? The CAD!

    Why did the cake need to be cut “swiftly?” How many people were there? Was there an insurrection a-brewin’? And how “unsanitary” is it for him to touch pieces of cake with his clean hands? Was he licking his fingers after plating each piece? Let’s see:

    “I’ll cut Sally’s cake because my grandma was a caterer!”
    “No, I’m her father, it’s her first birthday, I’m doing it.”
    STOMP STOMP STOMP “OMG, you’re doing it wrong! Gross! Use a fork!”
    “Look, I’m a grown man with clean hands, lady!”
    “ICCCKKKK! Cooties!”
    Yeah, HE’s a jerk all right.

  • --Lia December 15, 2011, 2:51 pm

    Let me weigh in on the cake cutting– I also have years of experience in food service and catering. When doing a professional job, you can bet I’m careful every step of the way. I don’t handle the food with bare hands. I don’t even walk into a professional care unless my hair is tied up in a net or scarf. The rules are different in private homes. In those, as in my own home, clean hands and “hot foods hot and cold foods cold” are the important 2 rules and the only ones I’m a stickler about following. In my own home, I allow my (clean healthy big) dog to hang out while I’m preparing dinner. (Her food and water bowls are in the kitchen so she’s certainly allowed there.) I’d scream bloody murder if I learned a dog was allowed in a restaurant kitchen.

    So yeah, besides Mike’s being right about clean hands being good enough to serve cake with, he’s right that it’s not up to guests to correct other guests about their behavior in a host’s house.

    This is a fascinating competition for Barb and Sally’s affection. I find it especially telling that it was necessary to point out that Barb and the LW are not a couple. Am I the only one who smells an undercurrent that the LW wishes they were, that the LW would prefer that Mike acted as sperm donor and then butt out?

    I’m imagining the letter that could be written if the roles were reversed. What if Mike was saying that his wife’s college friend annoyed him and simply wouldn’t get out of the way at family celebrations?

    Either way, I’d recommend that the LW continue being the supportive friend that she is but stay away from all celebrations that involve Mike. Think about this. She gets to be there 2-3x/week. Mike shows up for birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Xmas. LW still gets the better part of that deal.

  • Debra December 15, 2011, 3:10 pm

    Going back and rereading, I have to wonder if Barb’s reminder to leave after gift opening was an attempt to clear the OP out of the house graciously?
    No way to tell without being there. It just struck me since it came shortly after the cake tussle.

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