Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

With Eyes of Faith…Not Easily Offended February 9, 2012

By Dorothy Williams

 

“Love is patient, love is kind…

it is not quick-tempered,

it does not brood over injury…”

 

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Can you tell when someone is bragging about their kids versus just sharing joy and being amazed by life? I thought I could, until I visited with an old friend I had not seen in twenty years.

Our luncheon started innocently enough as we sipped drinks while waiting for a table. We caught up on what happened after leaving school and where we landed in our careers. When we spoke of children, I revealed how keenly I felt the loss of my dream to have a family. My friend seemed to understand and, after sharing her joy over having two children, turned the conversation to her husband and the dog.

Then we reached our table. And then her merlot kicked in.

As my companion launched into a monologue about her son­ – that would last our entire meal – waves of shock and panic washed over me. I was about to learn just how smart Junior is, the great Ivy League school he got into, their wonderful times together when she watched him play sports, the awards he won, the private jokes they shared – well, you can imagine the rest.

What part of my struggle did she not get?  I considered my choices. I could indulge in a range of emotions popping like hot kernels in my consciousness, or I could load them onto tiny boats in a cosmic river, and watch them slip away. I chose that, and relaxed into a Christian form of meditation, called Centering Prayer. With a deep, cleansing breath, I secretly called on the Lord for what I needed and then…just…let…go…to focus on a prayer word.

At some point, the momzilla took a breath and said, “I am so sorry to keep talking about my son like this, but I miss him so terribly since he left for school!”

Ah, there it was.  My long-lost friend was not intentionally trying to offend me, but instead grieving the loss of her best friend. When he left for the east coast, a huge void opened up in her life. Talking about him – remembering the good times – made it seem smaller.  It also explained why we were reconnecting after twenty years. If I had allowed my indignation to rise up, our reunion would not have been the gift God intended.

Is it getting easier for you to tell if a gabby friend is bragging or experiencing something else? What helps you get through tense situations like this?

Dorothy Williams lives near Chicago.  She met with her old friend for a second lunch and they had such a good time that they now plan to meet monthly for activities like walking and kayaking.

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7 Responses to “With Eyes of Faith…Not Easily Offended”

  1. Amel Says:

    LOVE this post, THANKS for sharing about Centering Prayer. :-))) I live far away from my mommy friends, so the only time I hear about kids is through emails and that’s not the same as in the situation you described, but if I ever come across that kind of situation, I’ll remember your story. :-D

  2. DAK Says:

    I always just suck it up and sit and listen and nod and smile and laugh in all the right places. Then I sit in the pitty pot for awhile.
    Does she have her own blog? Just askin’ because she is in my area and always looking for support in my neck of the woods….

  3. […] loved (Isaiah 43:2). The other page has my calendar pocket for Feb. I plan on printing out this blog post that I read yesterday and slipping it in there since it really spoke to me. […]

  4. Mali Says:

    My husband tells me I read too much into people’s comments. But it is by doing this that I figure out what someone’s motivations are, and so often it is (as with your friend) a case of them trying to fill a gap in their life, or that by bragging about their Iife, they make up for feeling inadequate in other areas.

  5. Lara Says:

    I loved that post! It is so intelligent… From now on I definitely will listen to those monologues with a completely different ear, thank you so much!

  6. mina Says:

    I am not religious but I loved this post. It teaches us how not being carried away by our self-centered emotions helps us to be patient and kind. Thank you!

  7. Kelly Says:

    I will admit that I have failed others in the infertility community, and it’s a community I belong to. I can recall having discussions with other infertile friends, and while I was going on about my miscarriages it came to light that the other person had never even had the opportunity to feel what pregnancy is like at all. They’d never been able to get pregnant. And my supportive response? Something along the lines of ‘well a miscarriage is devastating’… essentially I failed to acknowledge their pain and put my own experiences above theirs in the same sentence. It stays with me that I could fail a ‘silent sorority sister’ that way. And why didn’t I say the things that were really in my heart? Because it was too painful for me to touch those emotions. I can tell the story, but I can’t feel the emotions at the same time. I cried for 2 years over infertility, and it’s like there is a door built up in front of my emotions now that says ‘Nope. We’re nowhere ready to go there yet’.
    So to whomever I’ve offended, I’m sorry that I failed you in that moment.


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