Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I should have said "No"

So, I had a former friend accuse me of being a bad friend, of not making an effort to "be there" for her during the time of her recent wedding, and of making everything revolve around my children.
Excuse me, but THEY ARE MY CHILDREN. Not some random people that live in my house that I can sort of care for if I feel like it or if the bride-to-be feels that she has had enough doting for one day and can allow someone else to have some attention.
And why do brides always feel like EVERYone in the world needs to feel the same way about their wedding as they do? I mean, it's important to the bride, but people get married every day. It's a fun, big event, but does everyone need to drop everything and provide the proper amount of doting or else kiss the friendship goodbye? Geeze.
The problem here is that I was the only bridesmaid with children. There was one other bridesmaid that was very recently married, but no kids. I sort of felt like I was back in college in the "Oh-the-wedding-is-the-most-important-day-of-your-life" phase. But I'm so far past that, and no one else in the wedding party could relate. Well, there was one groomsman whose wife was about to have a baby. As a matter of fact, her due date was the day of the wedding. No kidding. Coincidentally, Paul and Judah and I were seated next to them at the rehearsal dinner, faaaaar across the room from the rest of the wedding party, where we enjoyed pleasant adult conversation about kids, etc., as opposed to the "man-I-was-so-wasted" conversation that was going on elsewhere.
I really should not have accepted the request to be in the wedding, knowing that I would likely have to bring the baby along, but we were close enough friends that I assumed she would understand. She had seen me parent my firstborn and knew exactly what kind of a breastfeeding, baby-wearing, co-sleeping attachment parent that I am. I figured that if she was asking me to not only attend the wedding but actually be a part of it, then she knew exactly what she was asking of me and also what I would need in return. Friendship is a two-way street, right? Oh wait. I guess that doesn't apply when one of the friends is a bride.
Judah was seven months old at the time of the wedding. I had hoped that he might take a bottle, but after many, many, MANY attempts at giving him one (using ALL the tricks in the book), the little guy always preferred the breast. I had also hoped that maybe he would be eating solids, but he didn't until he was over a year old. Knowing that there was going to be no way to feed the child while I would have to be away for at least 6 hours, we knew that we had to bring him along. It wasn't like we brought a toddler! We even hired a sitter for Charlie (even though I do not understand why people don't just allow kids at weddings--what event could be more family centered than a wedding, for crying out loud!).
Things actually went well. At least I'd thought they did. Paul dropped me off in the city early so that I could join the bride in her ritual of getting dressed and all that. He would then go home and get Judah and himself ready, greet the babysitter, and then head back to DC for the wedding, strolling the baby as he walked from a far-away parking place. He was a trooper and even kept Judah out of the ceremony, so that no one could complain about any imposition. Immediately after the ceremony I met Paul, grabbed Judah, and headed to the bride's dressing quarters to privately nurse the baby, again, so that no one could complain. Judah behaved very well during the reception and was even enjoyed by some. So, I really couldn't tell you what the problem was.
I hope that this post hasn't seemed too negative or complain-y. I'm just surprisingly very hurt at being accused of being a poor friend. I have always done everything in my power to hold onto friendships and show the people around me that they are loved. I have a few words of advice to offer, if you're still here.
If you are bride, you should know this: while you are trying on veils and tasting cakes, there are other people in the world who are doing other things. There are moms of small babies who are just trying to drag their tired bodies out of bed in the morning, wondering how on earth they are going to take care, not only of themselves, but also two (or more?) small kids for the whole day. Some of them may even be co-hosting a bridal shower despite their fatigue. There are even other brides who are doing the EXACT same thing that you are doing, but it's for their own weddings. And get this: they don't care about your wedding.
If you are a friend, you should know this: your friends have their own obligations, their own priorities. And it is impossible to understand a mother's priorities unless you have been a mother. I do have a handful of friends who are not parents but who are also very supportive, and I'm very thankful for them. But even they don't fully understand. If you have a friend who is a mother, please recognize that she may not "be there" for you the way your childless friends are, but she is probably doing all that she can to show you that she loves you. Just because she has little people at home that she needs to care for does not mean that she wouldn't, at times, rather be out at a party like all the "young folk." You see, she is probably feeling very torn about her old life v. her new life. It's not easy to have to be the grownup and learn to sacrifice to self. Not easy at all.
If you are a mom, you should know this: it is okay to say "No" once in a while. I thought that I could do both. I thought that I could raise my kids the way that I want to and also hang onto what I thought was a strong friendship by supporting my friend the best that I could. Now I see that it was not possible. Despite my tremendous effort, she feels it was not enough. I obviously could not give her the attention that she felt she deserved, even at the expense of my kids, and I'm very sorry that I even tried. I wonder if things would be any different had I never accepted the request to be a bridesmaid.
However, that is the only thing that I am sorry for. I'm not sorry for bringing my baby to the rehearsal dinner and wedding so that he could have some milk (the nerve of him), and I'm not sorry for missing the bride's shower for which I supplied all the food because I had come down with my third bout of mastitis in 7 months (the nerve of me). While I was unbelievably disappointed to have had to miss it, it was the only sensible choice I could have made. And I'm not sorry for defending myself and mothers everywhere.
Unfortunately I had no clue that I was being given an ultimatum. If forced to choose, I will ALWAYS choose my children. Any decent mother would.

1 comment:

  1. You tell it Sista! I think we need to start an anti-wedding, pro-focus-on-the-actual-marriage revolution.