This past weekend my husband took our two boys to visit his family for the extended weekend. I decided not to go.
There are many reasons that I could give you: time to myself, a mini-vacation, I've never done this before, time to get school stuff done, time to get church stuff done, time to relax, time to clean our house, etc.
But the main reason I didn't go is I wanted to avoid pain.
I love my husband's family. They are so wonderful and we get along really well. I love my sisters-in-law and they were my friends before they were my sisters. That's why it's so hard that two of them had babies this spring within weeks of each other. And the other one is due the same week that I was due.
This was to be the "year of the babies" and now it isn't. Well, it is for everyone else, just not for us. I wanted to avoid the pain that would come when seeing two nursing moms and a mom that is due in 4 weeks - the same week I was due. I wanted to avoid making everyone feel awkward about me being there. I wanted to avoid being Debbie Downer because I know I would've cried. I wanted to avoid them asking me about it. But I would've been upset if they didn't. I wanted to avoid all the painful emotions that come when you feel disappointed, and when you feel like a disappointment. When you feel like you're missing something that everyone else has. I don't really think it's jealousy because I'm not angry. I'm just sad. Sad that I am not celebrating a new little life in my life and sad that it's so difficult to celebrate for other people.
So, I avoided the emotional exhaustion that would've come from the trip.
But I also missed out on the joy.
I called my husband on Saturday evening to find out how the boys were doing, how the fantasy football party went, if the girls missed me not being there and I was put on "hold" while they prayed before dinner. I could hear my brother-in-law's prayer. I could hear the children talking during prayer (and this time all I could do was smile). I could hear the littles praying before devouring their hot dogs. I could hear everyone visiting and the chaos of mealtime. And I was missing it. I was missing the joy of being together with my husband's family. I was missing out on the joy and support. I was missing out on love. And for that, I'm regretful.
I am glad that I've had time to rest. I'm glad that I've had time to relax. I'm glad that I got to take a 6-hour nap and not feel guilty. I'm glad that I got a bunch of school stuff done. I'm glad that I'm not going to be physically and emotionally exhausted. But I'm sad. Because I avoided that pain and missed out on the joy of being with family that loves me and accepts me. And maybe that's good for me to know. So I won't avoid it the next time the opportunity comes, although it will be hard when it does come. Amid the pain there will be joy.