Sharing the joy

I met some good friends’ new baby on Friday and had lots of lovely cuddles.  She is beautiful, and they liked the crochet bunny I had made.  So far these friends have shared very little about their little girl on Facebook and I understand their preferences for privacy.  They were also sympathetic when I described how fed up I get sometimes, when my main Facebook feed is overflowing with updates about everybody’s babies and children.  While I am happy for each individual, the combination which comes from having so many friends with young children can be quite exasperating.  There are times when I just don’t want to know the minutiae of each child’s day.  I know it’s to do with my time of life – that I’m the odd one out to be single and gallivanting across Europe and going to concerts and theatre performances.

Then I start feeling like maybe I’m the insensitive one, and maybe I shouldn’t be going on about all the baby-free fun I’m having.  I’m aware that my updates about travel and fun nights out, though they feel like novelties to me and worth sharing, could be inducing a corresponding jealousy and fed-up-ness in my friends.  Since I got all my marking finished I have had an amazingly enjoyable month, and I want to share the joy I am experiencing.  My travel to Finland and Estonia was something of a revelation, remembering how much I love to travel and meet new people and really wanting to make the most of the opportunities I have.

I’ve also had some lovely evenings this week at a Martyn Joseph gig (see earlier blogpost) and seeing David Tennant and Catherine Tate perform in Much Ado About Nothing at Wyndham’s Theatre in London.  The theatre tickets were a real blessing – my friend and I joined the lottery for tickets (10am each morning for 20 top price seats for only £10).  My number was drawn mid way through the 20, but my friend seemed to have missed out and was waiting patiently in the queue for returns.  Then suddenly they found they had one more ticket for the evening performance, and drew another number.  That person had gone, and so they drew another, belonging to someone else who had given up.  Finally they drew my friend’s ticket, and so she was also able to buy a top price (£61) ticket for just £10.  Maybe that makes you sick with envy, but maybe you can share our joy.  The show was fantastic with some very funny and creative scenes as well as great chemistry between the leads.

When I’m feeling more understanding of my baby bragging friends I can see how perhaps their lives are so full of babies and children that they really don’t have much else to talk about.  I know that the internet can be a lifeline for mums or dads at home who are desperate for some adult contact.  I guess ideally I would hope that there could be other topics of conversation as well as what the children are doing.  Indeed, some of my friends manage this well.  But I also need to try and somehow share their joy about the baby moments too.  Some of the photos and videos are very cute and sometimes the honesty of a parent’s struggle with a child is easy to relate to, even as a non-parent.

Being encouraging means sharing in joys and sorrows, and accepting someone wherever they are – even if they are more than knee deep in baby stuff.  Being a parent is an awesome responsibility and one I think that is best shared with other family and friends within a supportive community.  I have really enjoyed times of being welcomed into others’ families and spending time with them and their children.  Offering to babysit can also give parents a chance to get out and have an enjoyable night of their own.  They might go to the cinema or the theatre, and it might even give them something different to talk/ blog/ write a status update about… 😉

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8 Responses to Sharing the joy

  1. Jackie says:

    Spot on. I am brewing a blog post on this very topic, but I might just link to you because you’re much more eloquent and gracious than I would be 🙂

  2. SarahContrary says:

    You might (or might not, depending on your sense of humour) enjoy STFU parents, a blog devoted to mocking parental overshare on facebook. I tend not to read the comments as some of them are a bit unpleasant, but the blog itself is incredibly funny – and a useful reminder of what lots of people don’t really need to know. It’s at http://www.stfuparentsblog.com/

    I am on the other side of the fence to you – I’m on maternity leave with my second baby, who is 12 days old, and my 18-month-old. At the moment my life is nothing but babies and desperate attempts to sleep. I’ve given up updating facebook much because my life is pretty boring. I have noticed that the people I interact with, in real life but particularly on facebook, has changed since having children – I can comment and give advice or sympathy on things like sleepless nights and teething, and I think people with children are more likely to comment on baby-related updates when I post them. Similarly, there are people at work who now talk to me because we have something in common. I do look enviously at the status updates of people like you who have much more interesting lives than me – there are times when facebook doesn’t seem particularly good for me as it feels like everyone is having much more fun than me. I love my children but being a parent looking after small children full-time does shrink your world…

    I hope this doesn’t sound self-pitying – I am a bit tired at the moment – I’m actually really enjoying maternity leave this time round and my second baby is much easier than my first. More I wanted to say that I think your post is spot on and very perceptive.

    • Hearten Soul says:

      Thanks for your comments Sarah – I’m glad you found the post was pitched ok. I don’t just want to have a go at over-involved parents (although the STFU site sounds worth a visit, thanks). I guess a bit more understanding all round is a good thing, and I think some people are insensitive to those who might desperately want children even if they haven’t grasped the massive life-change this would involve. Perhaps you never know what you’ve got til it’s gone, as Joni Mitchell would say. After a fairly dull evening in on my own watching tv and expecting a peaceful night’s sleep it’s easy to forget that this would be a joy to someone else.

      • SarahContrary says:

        I don’t think anyone really appreciates the joy of a whole night’s uninterrupted sleep until you have a baby – the frustration is at the loss of control over your own sleep – you can’t go back to sleep until the baby does and you can’t make the baby sleep.

        I’ve found it really hard to find the balance between sensitivity towards people who don’t have children but would love them, and sharing about my life and my experiences of it. I have a few friends who would really like to have children and haven’t been able to yet, and it was very difficult talking about both my pregnancies with them. The first was very much a surprise and I was very angry to be pregnant – it was difficult to know how much of that to talk about with people who I knew desperately wanted to be in my situation without hurting them; however, I still wanted to be able to talk about my life with people who are my friends, and my life at that time was about struggling with adjusting to pregnancy and the prospect of a baby. I felt that I needed to be sensitive to their feelings but hoped they would also find room for mine. Then the second pregnancy in some ways felt like even more of a slap in the face for them – we decided we wanted another baby and we had one quickly and easily – it just didn’t feel fair really. I hope I’ve managed to achieve that balance as much as can be expected.

  3. SarahContrary says:

    Also, I love the crocheted bunny!

  4. Pingback: Getting in touch | Hearten Soul

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