Sometimes I astound myself with my selfish and ungrateful thoughts.
Whenever I get an email asking for volunteers to help someone in a time of need, my first thought is “I should help.” Then my second thought is usually: “Actually why should I? No one helped me when I was in the similar situation.” Then my next thought is “You are a terrible person! You should do onto others as you would have liked others to do onto you.
It like when I was on bedrest… I was on bedrest for 4 months. That is 16 weeks. 115 days to be precise. I couldn’t get up to make myself a sandwich. Heck I was barely allowed to use the bathroom. Yet do you know how many visitors I got? 8. (Well, 14 if you count spouses and children.)
- Superman of course was there for the 4 weeks I was at home, and came to the hospital every day. (Although he never once stayed the night with me…not even on the weekends)
- My aunt and uncle came to stay with me for a weekend when I was still at home while Superman had to go out of town.
- My friend from college came to visit me at home when she was in town for business.
- My MIL and FIL visited once at home and three times when I was in the hospital.
- A friend from grad school/colleague came to the hospital twice, each time she brought one of the following women with her:
- A friend/colleague
- A friend/colleague
- My cousin and his wife and their three kids (including their set of twin boys) showed up as a surprise on Easter day, because they were in town visiting her family.
I get that people are busy and that travel is expensive and time consuming, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was really disappointed that over a course of 16 weeks laid up in bed, not being able to go anywhere or do anything, that I only had 8 visitors.
So now whenever I hear of someone going on bedrest for a pregnancy, even if I don’t know them. I try to help some way. If they live far away, I send them a message of support (with ideas of things I did to help pass the time and keep from going crazy). But if they live nearby, I offer to come visit them. In fact, last year someone I knew on facebook set up a meal delivery calendar for her friend, and I signed up to bring them a meal. I signed up to bring a perfect stranger a meal, and I ended up sitting and talking with her for about an hour. Because rather than give into my selfish feelings of “no one made any meals for us when I was on bedrest” I decided to do unto others as I would have liked them to do unto me.
Once I had my babies, it didn’t get any better. I had even less visitors! Visitors I had when/after the baby was born:
- My parents and brother came for the birth
- MIL and FIL came for the birth and about came about once a month for the next 6 months or so
- My aunt came for the birth
- My sister came for a week when they were 6 weeks old
That’s it. Forget people dropping by with casseroles or presents. That was it.
So again, when I hear of someone organizing a meal train for a friend or acquaintance that just had a baby, I think: “Are you kidding me?!?! I had TWINS and no one ever brought us dinner over.” But then I have to silence that little selfish voice and remember that I have to do onto others as I would have liked others to do unto me.
And I have to remind myself to quit being ungrateful, and instead of focusing on who didn’t come…focus instead on who did! Really appreciate them and let them know I appreciated them.
Oh, and don’t get me started on baby showers. Never had one. No one even offered. Now, most of the time, this doesn't bother me, because honestly I was extremely blessed with hand-me downs (special thanks to my cousin and his wife who had twins two years before us) and have a shop-aholic and yard sale crazy MIL who was more than happy to buy every matching outfits she came across. And really, I preferred receiving hand me downs on baby items that you only use for a few weeks/months over anyone (even if it isn’t me) spending $100s of dollars on them new. But it’s not the thought of the actual presents so much as the fact that NO ONE OFFERED.
A friend of mine from college had a baby a few years after Thing 1 and Thing 2 were born. Like me, she lived in an area far away from friends and family…so her friends threw her a virtual baby shower online. It was very unique and definitely incredibly thoughtful. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t been jealous no one had offered to do something similar for me.
So when I see women being super picky on their baby shower registries. Must be this brand. Must be this color. Must be this theme. Blah blah blah. I’m like “Bitch, just be happy I’m buying you ANYTHING because lord knows you didn’t buy me jack-shit when I had my TWO babies.” (Sorry, cursing is necessary, because this is what goes through my head.)
And don’t get me started on second baby showers. The whole point of showers is to shower new parents with things to get them ready for a baby…you’ve never had a baby before so you don’t have a crib, or a high chair, or diapers, etc. But once you’ve had one baby…you don’t need another shower. You got your shower. You had people buy you hundreds of dollars’ worth of new (because you are too good for used) baby shit. USE THAT! Yes, you can use that same crib. Yes, you can put your baby girl into a blue car seat/highchair/stroller…if you are worried about people “not being able to tell it’s a girl” how about #1 covering her head to toe with pink or #2 not giving a fuck (do you think little Susie will be scarred for life if people mistakenly say “he is such a pretty baby” when she is less than 1 years old and can’t even talk yet? Hint: she won’t be, because she #1 Doesn't understand English and #2 WON’T REMEMBER IT!
So obviously I still have these feelings of selfishness, ungratefulness, and being judgmental. I’m dealing with them. And I’m also dealing with the question of “Am I just a sucky friend/person that my friends and family don’t care enough to offer to do things for me the way that other people do for their friends and family?” Maybe that’s it. Maybe the problem is me...
Meanwhile, I keep trying to suppress these unhealthy feelings and focus on not doing to others as was done to me, but instead doing unto others as I would have liked have been done for me. Maybe in the end it will make me a better person and friend. Maybe it will encourage others to pass on kindness shown to them. Or maybe it won’t do anything, except make me feel better helping someone else out during their time of need. I'd be okay with that.