(I often write blog posts in my head and never type them out. They are usually a little more emotional /personal /raw in nature and not something I would normally publish. I have decided, though, that those thoughts and feelings are part of our journey and I should start getting them out. I am sure there are others out there that feel the same way as I do at times, and I want those people to know that they are not alone. These posts will start with "On...", so that you know what to expect)
Around Christmastime I was looking at Facebook and noticed a picture with many of my momma friends, together, at dinner. It was a dinner I was not invited to, so naturally, I was not in the picture. It was in that moment, though, that I realized that I haven't really been in the picture for a long time. In fact, I haven't been in the picture for so long that I have lost touch with many people I used to consider my friend.
I'm not going to lie, the realization stung a little.
I will admit that sometimes I am an absentee friend. Sometimes life goes haywire and we hunker down, pulling together as a family, but pulling away from anything extra. There are times when I would love to have friends over for dinner, have some alone time out, or sneak out with my girlfriends, but life doesn't always work that way for me. Someone gets sick, someone needs me, there's a seizure, we have extra doctor's appointments, or sometimes, I'm just plain tired and making plans seems like too much work. There are other times, too, when I could say "yes" but choose to say "no" to spend quality time as a family. I will admit, though, that sometimes, for a second, I get a little envious of my friends who get out a lot. Sometimes I feel a little twang of jealousy towards those that get to run away for a girl's weekend, or a fun weekend with their husband. Don't get me wrong, we truly are blessed, there is no doubt about it. David is an awesome husband and encourages me to get out of the house when I am able, and I am thankful for that. We have lots of date nights "in" too, and we love that time together. We are blessed with family that is able watch our kiddos sometimes so we can get a few hours away together. We are also very fortunate in that we have been given a large capacity to love on our kiddos without running out of steam. For that I credit Jesus and Starbucks. I can't help but wonder, though, how it feels to be able to go out without having your phone in your hand the entire time, never leaving a 20 mile radius, just in case of emergencies. I wonder how it feels not to be glued to the baby monitor at night, watching your little one's every move. I wonder what it feels like to be the one in all of the pictures.
After some tears and processing, I realized I truly have peace and am ok with not being in the picture. We knew that raising three kids, two with special needs, and one with some extra emotional "stuff" from years of neglect, would mean that life would change. We knew that there would be things we would have to walk away from. Our life has changed a lot over the years, but we truly do not regret one second of it. These kiddos are the most important work we will ever do in our lifetime. Seeing the joy and smiles on their faces, seeing them thrive and overcome obstacles, and seeing the compassion they have for others makes every second worth it. The truth is, sometimes I get a little jealous, but I honestly wouldn't change anything about my life. My life can feel crazy sometimes, but it's mine, and it's perfect.
I have also come to appreciate those that have stuck by us even more than I did before. I am thankful for friends who don't take "no" for an answer. I'm thankful for friends who know we want to see them and invite us over, even if it is our turn to host. I'm thankful for those friends who don't accept a "we're fine" answer and know to keep on asking. I am thankful for those friends who visit us in the hospital, pray for us, rejoice with us, and take the time to understand our life. God has given us some pretty amazing friends, and they truly are a blessing in our lives.
To any of you out there who are no longer in the picture, just know that you matter. What you give up can feel hard sometimes, but what you gain is even more precious. I am praying that God grants you peace, hope, and joy in your journey and lifts you up when you feel weary. I pray that you have the privilege of knowing that your work is significant. Your picture might look different, but just know, what you are doing is important and you are never alone.