I got a text from my sister a few months back. She was in town for my parents’ 75th birthday celebration. We were getting ready to meet to shop for the party and she said, “Sorry, got distracted,” and went on to finish our conversation. My immediate thought was, “Oh, how nice. It’s a house full of relatives she hasn’t seen in years, so she’s sitting at the table, drinking coffee, catching up,” when in reality she was probably running around making sure everything was going according to schedule before slipping out to by the food.
I was the same way with each of our kids’ births. Every time a friend tells me “we got home from the hospital with the baby,” I envision the new mom relaxing on the couch with the baby while everyone else is relaxing, watching TV, or enjoying being home together.
When our reality, each time, was far from that truth. Our oldest was hospitalized for a week at birth so we came home with empty arms. Our daughter was born healthy but three days later we were in the doctor’s office because our two-year-old decided to knock her Moses bed off the coffee table without warning (and she went flying with it!). Talk about mom guilt mixed with post-pregnancy hormones! And our third had jaundice so it was appointments, blood draws, and instructions about how to use a “biliblanket” as soon as we arrived home (which, by the way, is not a blanket at all!).
Why do we do that? Envision calm and peaceful or adventurous and fun for others when we know the reality of life is usually far from picture perfect? Maybe, it’d be better, if we took our own life’s experiences and thought instead, “I bet things aren’t going according to my friend’s expectations. What can I do that might help bring calm and peace into her life during this season?”
I’m optimistic that if we started responding with offers of help, maybe that calm, peaceful picture we envision could become the reality, even if only for an afternoon or a few hours. And, more importantly, I think it’d be a gift your loved one would remember for many years to come.
© Cheri Swalwell 2020