Any major life occasion is an opportunity to celebrate with those closest to you. And whether it’s a graduation, wedding, funeral, or the birth of a baby, the people in your life will reveal themselves and the nature of their relationship to you.
Since our son was born three weeks ago, we have been overwhelmed but not by the plague of sleepless night. But by the generosity of our co-workers, neighbors, and friends. From chocolates, to flowers, to clothes and toys for the child, I’ve not written this many thank you notes since we got married.
And not unlike with our wedding, the most unexpected people were the happiest for us. In some cases, there were surprises as well from good friends who have been nowhere to be seen since the days following his birth. Luckily in this instance, I remembered those days.
Instead of focusing on those who have mysteriously disappeared, this time I decided to focus on those who were excited for us instead of being upset by the absence of others. This was a new choice for me since in the past I have generally fought hard to keep friendships, even those that had long expired, out of some false sense of loyalty. Just after college this policy cost me a lot emotionally and spiritually; the rift between friends who joked about picking up each others dentures in the retirement home grew so great that those whose weddings I had been in didn’t even bother sending a card or calling for mine.
At almost four years of marriage, I am only now realizing my life is better without that energy drainer. I didn’t friend them on Facebook; I don’t look them up when I’m in town; in general it’s like we never knew each other. It’s a strange answer to the question is it better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all? In the nearly 10 years since those friendships ended, I have to say forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give yourself or others. I’m not angry at those people or wish them off the planet: I simply keep that energy for myself.
Focusing on gratitude had a strange effect on me during the birth and early days of our little one: it made me even more grateful because I was with people who were bringing positive energy and light into my life. I was partly forced into this decision being so worn out from the delivery and then learning how to adjust to my new role as mother. Surrounding myself with only positivity has never been an option – particularly in the home I grew up in which had a lot of guilt and fear. The last month was one of the first times I’ve been able to do this as in the past I’ve been so surprised by people’s behavior that the disappointment has made me so disillusioned it’s been hard to have faith in people.
The day our son was born my devotional – which I only managed to read four days later – admonished me never to be surprised by what people do, good or bad. This is easier said than done (as the saying goes).
But the last three weeks have been good practice.