Question submitted: How have you made it through going to baby showers? It’s difficult for me. My younger sister’s baby shower is coming up, and I am nervous about going because I don’t want to start crying in front of everyone.
A baby shower. A baby’s baptism. Meeting a new niece or nephew at the hospital for the first time. My participation in each of these events is a painful reminder to me of what I lack. I’m not the guest of honor at a baby shower. I don’t get to dress my baby in a family heirloom baptismal gown on her special day. I’m not the one who has recently birthed a child at the hospital.
I never realized how emotional these events were until the baptism of my brother’s first child. There was no way I was going to shed any tears on that special day. I thought I could be strong enough to mask my own disappointment. I wanted to be the parent who was bringing my child to the baptismal font, but I wasn’t going to let anybody see the pain on my face. I had told myself that this day was about my niece and the special gifts she was being given. What I didn’t tell myself was that it was okay to grieve as well.
Meeting my niece was precious. Holding her made me feel special. The hardest part, though, was when my daughter Joanna got to hold her new cousin. She swelled with pride and beamed from cheek to cheek. That’s when I had to fight back the tears. This picturesque moment should have been for my baby.
I had squelched the urge to cry; I decided that would be the only time I’d weep over the weekend. I didn’t think the Sunday morning baptism would affect me. What a lie I’d told myself. When the congregation began singing the baptismal hymn, the flood gates opened. I was crying because I hadn’t been gifted a child. I listened to the hymn and begged God to forgive my selfishness. As my niece was baptized, I heard the sweet gospel news that she was a forgiven member of the family of Christ. I was forgiven, too.
The focus of this day was not about my personal desire for a large family, nor about my barren womb. It was about God’s gift of a child. In my sinful pride, I had looked at the birth of my niece as a punishing reminder of what I didn’t have. Once I recalled God’s blessings of a child to my brother and his wife, then I could share in their excitement. All children are gifts from the Lord, and they should be celebrated. My niece had become my sister in Christ; that was reason for rejoicing.
Before my niece’s baptism, I told my brother that I might not always appear joyful. It was not meant to anger or remove myself from the family. Rather, it was going to be hard because I was mourning my own loss. He understood and was thankful that I could articulate my feelings to him. Share your feelings with your sister. Let her know that you’re nervous about the shower. You love your sister and want to be part of her special day; tell her that you do rejoice with her. And if you cry that day, it’s okay. Your sister will know that it’s hard for you, but she’ll appreciate even more your honesty.
During the shower, you will find yourself comparing your situation to your sister’s; this is normal. Remind yourself that this is a time of God’s blessing. Find ways to occupy your mind. Help write down the gifts; offer to help with refreshments. These activities will help keep you focused on the blessings God is giving.
Yes, baby showers and baptisms are difficult times. However, they are also reasons to give thanks to the Lord for His generous love. Children should be celebrated for what they are – gifts. While you may not have children of your own, you are God’s child. You are a gift to your parents and to those who love you. That’s something to celebrate.