Ask Zoe is Aleteia’s bi-weekly advice column. If you have a dilemma, question, or need some general advice for your life, email Zoe. All questions are given consideration and names are withheld.
A good friend just had a baby boy and asked me to be his godmother. I’m honored, but in all honesty, I don’t want to do it. In addition to being a mother of five, I have four other godchildren and take the role seriously: I acknowledge all of their baptismal anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas, Easter, and patron saint/ name days with cards and gifts. (It adds up!) And I pray for them all every day. I feel overwhelmed by what’s on my plate already. But my friend is a Catholic convert and I don’t know if she has anyone among her family and close friends to ask so I’ll feel really guilty if I say no. Any advice?
First of all, kudos to you for taking your godparent commitment seriously. It’s a special role to play in someone’s life so it’s important to give such an inviation careful reflection.
I recommend an honest conversation with your friend—something along these lines:
I’m so honored you asked me to do this, and because I take my role as godparent so seriously I want to discuss whether I’m really the best choice. I feel overwhelmed with my current godparent commitments already, and would want to give your son everything I typically give as a godmother —but I’m not sure I can. What are your hopes and expectations of the godmother role?
Maybe your friend does have someone else she could ask, and she’ll be happy to let you off the hook. Or maybe she doesn’t have anyone else, but her main hope is to have prayer support for her son and anything in addition to that is gravy. If this the case, consider cutting yourself some slack and allowing yourself a scaled-back role as godmother for your friend’s baby. You don’t have to do the same thing for every one of your godchildren.
The happy compromise here may be to say "yes," but to change your expectations of yourself in order to make it manageable. And if you’re clear about this with your friend, it will help assuage any guilt you feel about not being your definition of "the perfect godmother."
If you have a dilemma or question for Zoe, please send it to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Zoe Romanowsky is the Lifestyle Editor and Video Curator for Aleteia. A freelance writer, blogger, and consultant, she’s been published in many national publications including Real Simple, Catholic Digest, Baltimore Eats, and TruthAtlas. Zoe holds a Masters degree in Counseling from Franciscan University, and a certification in life coaching from the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). She’s an urban homeschooling mother of twins with a weakness for dark chocolate, Instagram, vintage Harleys, and vodka martinis—not necessarily in that order.