Have you ever been invited to an ‘adult-only’ event even though the hosts know you have children and you take them pretty much everywhere with you? What do you say to a friend who’s invited you to an “adult-only” event, knowing you have children, and in inviting you is clearly telling you they don’t want your children there and that they expect you’ll find childcare? Does this letter declining that invitation due to child care restrictions resonate with you?
When I received the invitation to your…(insert: baby shower, your wedding, your engagement celebration, your birthday, etc.,) my heart swelled with love for you. It swelled with excitement for you and for the celebration and I was yearning to go. I want to be there for you. I want to celebrate with you and enjoy the time with you. My heart nearly burst with joy.
But then, it cracked into a thousand pieces and fell to the floor when I learned that my children couldn’t come because your invitation asked for adults only to attend.
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. I wouldn’t want to mar your special time and celebration with my concerns and reasonings. You are free to choose to host whatever engagement you like, and if those you invite can make it, great! If they cannot, it is not your responsibility to figure out how they can.
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. Know that I truly was. I danced away from giving reasons because I didn’t want you to feel bad, but I also didn’t want to give a reason that seemed foolishly small because it’s right of you to expect that I would be there. I tried to let you know that I loved you, that I wanted to be there. But that I simply 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. I.so.wanted.to.be.there.
But that would make it about my plans and planning process when this is supposed to be (and I want it to be) all about you.
I wanted to be there.
I just 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. It’s not that I don’t want to–your friendship is so dear to me. I wanted you to know that I’m sorry that I’m putting my children ahead of our friendship, and I hope you understand that I don’t belittle the significance and importance of our friendship. I want you to know that it’s for a short time only, just these few years that I’ll be needed this way–that I’ll need to give more to my children than to anyone else. I wanted to tell you how happy I was for you and that I truly wished that your happiness was able to come first, so that I could be there with you the way you’ve asked me to be and that I want to be. I just cannot. I wanted to tell you all of these things and so, so much more so that you would understand that it was not something trivial that kept me away.
No, nothing would keep me from celebrating with you.
Except them. Because now they come first, and their needs must come first.
But, instead of writing all of this to you to explain, I bit my lip and sent you my regrets and love and hoped that you would understand the unspoken.
I’m just not that kind of friend right now.
I’m a different kind of friend, now.
And, though I can’t be there for this, I’ll be there for you in all the ways that I can.
I’ll be there to chat at 1 AM when you’re a new mama and scared and wondering what.in.the.world. to do.
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. It may not seem like that’ll be much of anything now, but I promise, it will then.
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.
When you’re sick and the kids need lunch and you need a shower, I’ll be there with mine, fixing them a meal and sending you to the bathroom for a few minutes of recuperation. When you need to have an adult to talk to because you just can’t take another episode of Paw Patrol without some grown-up talk, I’m as quick and easy as a call, a text or a message.
You see, I’m that kind of friend now. My children have changed the kind of person I am. That means they’ve also changed the kind of friend that I am, but in a good way. They’ve shown me what compassion and grace look like, even when (especially when) we’re at our worst. They’ve shown me that there’s nothing better in this life than selflessly giving of oneself only to see that those you pour into grow into people who pour into others too. My children have shown me that while I’m sad I’ll miss your event, there are tons of tea parties and dinosaur details and snuggles to attempt to make up for what I’m missing, and that gives me something so very different in the process.
I promise, my love for you hasn’t changed. I want to be part of your life still and always, but it’s just going to have to look different than it has before. My life looks different now, that’s for sure, but it’s just a small snippet in time when I look at the big picture.
I hope you know that, and I hope you understand. It’s not that I didn’t want to, and it’s not that you’re not important in my world. It’s just that these little beings need me and depend on me, and their dad and I really give different definition to ‘adults only’ when it comes to them. We *are* their only adults for now, and we’ll miss you but for just a bit.
<3 – Me.
Image Credit: Moyan Brenn