What do you say to a friend who’s invited you to an “adult-only” event? Does this letter declining an invitation due to child care restrictions resonate with you?
When I received the invitation to your baby shower, your wedding, your engagement celebration, your birthday, my heart swelled with love for you. It swelled with excitement, with yearning to go. With wanting to be there for you. Then it cracked into a thousand pieces and fell to the floor when I learned that my children couldn’t come.
I wanted to write you a letter to explain why. But I didn’t, because that would make your event about me and my family when it’s supposed to be about yours.
So I sent you my regrets and my love. My congratulations, and my sadness that I couldn’t be there for you the way I wanted to be. And I talked about how excited I was for you. And I truly was. I danced away from giving reasons because I didn’t want you to feel bad, but I didn’t want to give a reason that seemed foolishly small. I tried to let you know that I loved you, that I wanted to be there. But that I couldn’t.
Then I cried.
I wanted to tell you that I was so sorry. That I tried to come up with a way that it would work. That I tried to find a babysitter that I trusted near where you were so that I could duck out to nurse the child that wouldn’t take a bottle yet. That I tried to figure out if we could afford a hotel room nearby where my toddler with separation anxiety could play with dad while I celebrated with you. I wanted to tell you all these things so that you would understand that I wanted to be there. But that would make it about my plans when it was supposed to be about yours.
I wanted to be there.
I couldn’t make it work.
I wanted to tell you that I’m so sorry that I’m not able to be that kind of friend for you right now. That I’m sorry that I’m putting my children ahead of our friendship. That it’s for a short time only, just these few years. That I’m so happy for you, and that I wish that your happiness had come first before my own, so that I could have been there with you the way that I want to be.
But I bit my lip and sent you my regrets and love and hoped that you would understand the unspoken.
I’m not that kind of friend right now. I’m a different kind of friend, now. I’ll be there for you in all the ways that I can.
I’ll be there to chat at 1AM when you’re a new mama and scared. I’ll figure out how to come to see you when you’re having a hard time getting your baby to latch on, and I’ll show you everything that I know. I’ll help you move your things to boxes and load them into the van while my children run and play and my baby naps in a sling against my chest. I’ll be there for you if you and your husband are fighting. I’ll come to the ultrasound that your husband can’t make it to, and I’ll hold your hand if something’s up and you are scared. I’ll tell you that the choices you make as a mama are excellent ones, even if they’re different from my own. I’ll come and watch your kids for you so that you can take a shower.
I’m that kind of friend now.
My love for you hasn’t changed. My life has. Just for now.
I hope you know that, and I hope you understand.
<3 – Me.
Image Credit: Moyan Brenn