A friend of mine had a baby last week. She was welcomed into the world surrounded by family – aunts, great-aunts, two grandmothers, and a few friends.
Within hours of her birth there were dozens of pictures posted of everyone posing with her, filled with excitement and pride, all happily wearing shirts they’d had made for this special day.
This wasn’t just the birth of a baby, this was an expansion of their family, something they all were a part of and all thrilled about.
I’m happy for my friend. She and her mom have always been incredibly close, and I know that this will only deepen their bond. They’ll have multigenerational tea parties, matching outfits, trips and memories galore. My friend is guaranteed a babysitter whenever she needs one, because her parents are just so thrilled and involved.
I’m happy for my friend… but it makes me even sadder for myself.
I don’t have a support system.
I’m an only child and my husband’s only sister is intentionally uninvolved. My mother is mentally ill and my father is an alcoholic, so even if they’d expressed an interest and wanted to be a part of my childrens’ lives, it wouldn’t be safe.
My in-laws are shut-ins and uninterested in their grandchildren. I have no siblings, no close cousins, no doting aunts. When we need a sitter, we either skip the event or only one of us goes. When our children were born, we were the only welcoming committee.
It hurts. A lot.
I’m immensely proud of my kids, and it’s deeply personal when someone who traditionally “should” be excited about them… just isn’t.
These cool little people, made from pieces of me, learning new things and saying the darndest stuff – I’m proud. They deserve a fan club, grandparents at their events, an aunt to take them to the movies, someone to call them on their birthdays.
They deserve to feel the overindulgent love of extended family. They deserve to make life-long memories with people who can’t wait to see them again. They deserve more than what they have.
I used to watch Teen Mom every week, a nice little escape and some drama to feast on, but had to stop. I found myself growing so resentful, so bitter towards these girls just because their parents babysat for them.
In all of the chaos and drama and struggle, the thing that stuck out to me the most was that they had babysitters.
I couldn’t feel sorry for them, couldn’t root for them, couldn’t appreciate their struggles, because how bad could it be if you have a helpful family?
I have friends whose parents live in other states and still manage to see their grandchildren a few times a year.
I have friends whose parents live across town and see their grandchildren every week. I have friends who are aunts and uncles and can’t get enough of their nieces and nephews. And each and every one of those friends I am jealous of.
Shamefully, painfully jealous.
I’m mad at my own family, sure, for not being involved. None of them live far away and I’ve never stopped inviting them to participate. I see the things they make time for and feel snubbed and embarrassed that my own kids weren’t considered important enough to make the list.
But I’m also jealous of you, of them, of anyone who has a mom they can call for help, a sister who comes to visit, a dad who gives pony rides.
I’m jealous that you can go on date nights and know your child is being loved while you’re out without a car seat. I’m especially jealous if your parents already have their own car seat. I’m jealous that you don’t have to agonize over who would care for your children if you were suddenly unable to.
I’m jealous that you have people commenting on the pictures of your kids, wanting pictures of your kids. I’m jealous that people are not only excited to see your children, but grateful to you for having brought them over.
I’m sad that I don’t have that support, don’t have that help, don’t have that level of connection.
I’m sad that my kids don’t have what yours do. I’m resentful that you don’t even know how good you have it, that you don’t know what a dream you’re living in to be surrounded by people who love and long for your kids. I’m angry that you have more than enough while I have none.
It’s not your fault, I know. You are not my parents. You didn’t make my kids’ only aunt ignore them. You didn’t beg your family to get excited.
Truthfully I don’t know what you did, if anything, or if your family is just wonderfully close. I don’t know what makes your family so loving… and I don’t know what makes mine so distant. It’s not your fault that my children are forgotten, ignored, inconvenient to those who should be the most taken with them.
It’s not your fault that you have what I want and enjoy what I crave. It’s not your fault that you have such a wonderful support system.
I just ask that you don’t freaking take it for granted.