Yesterday we received an invitation from old friends (J&K) to attend a baseball game with them Friday night. It was a nice invitation, but I told Craig I just wasn’t up for it, for the simple reason that they would have their 2-month-old and 18-month-old sons with them. I’m just not up for it right now, but I feel really bad about not going.
We attended this couple’s wedding about three years ago, and since then they have had their two boys. (I guess I note this because these types of timeframes stand out to me, since we’ve been married for 9 years and working on child #1 for over 4 years now… but I digress.) I attended K’s baby shower for their first child about two weeks after our first miscarriage two years ago. To this day I am not quite sure why I went to that shower, but I suppose I felt obligated because I had already RSVP’d – pre-miscarriage, thinking, “oh, I’ll be pregnant, too, and won’t that be fun at the shower to also be pregnant!” – so I went and I sat politely and quietly through it and oohed and ahhed over all of the cute little baby outfits and made guesses as to which ribbon length was the correct circumference of her baby belly and so on. At the end, after I walked out the door, I couldn’t even make it to my car before I started crying. I drove around the corner (so no one would see) and bawled for about 15 minutes before I felt I could continue my drive home.
I often feel very obligated to attend things even when I know I won’t have a good time. For example, I feel like I’d be a bad friend if I declined a baby shower request. Honestly, except for times like now when I’m in a down swing, I can be okay at a baby shower. There are times when I’m totally up for time with friends with their babies and small children. Actually seeing our friends usually outweighs the discomfort, since we basically don’t see any of our friends with kids anymore. Holding a baby can be wonderfully therapeutic sometimes. But at other times it is painful for me. I guess the important thing for me is to recognize when I can handle it and when I can’t. I need to make choices based on me and not based on what the other people will think. And I need to stop worrying about whether I’m doing the right thing. The right thing is what is right for me, not what is right for anyone else. I find thoughts like that to be pretty selfish, but maybe that’s okay at times.
We only see these friends about once a year and they have not known anything about our family-building journey. I expected Craig to make up some excuse about why we couldn’t go – to say that we had other plans or whatever – but he chose instead to tell them our story. He got a very nice email back from J that was understanding, respectful, and supportive. It reminded me that most friends and family members will respect our choices and know that we can’t handle every situation. I need to keep that in mind the next time I’m feeling bad about one of our choices.