A Missed Opportunity

Is it worth giving up a potentially uncomfortable moment for so many moments of regret later?

abstract watercolor illustration of a lonely tree near a small pond in a clearing
Image created via Midjourney

Recently, I found out that someone I know is pregnant.

The announcements are less frequent these days. I'm older; many of my friends are older. Pregnancy announcements still make me wince because the expecting parents often have no idea what could go wrong. And I hope against hope that they never find out. But still, a pregnancy announcement always feels naïve.

This recent news was from someone I know professionally. Know well enough that I took a deep breath and sent her a congratulatory DM.

She replied back that she was excited (of course) and that her kids are excited. Through the conversation, I learned that there will be a big gap in age between her older kids and the new baby.

She asked me the ages of my kids and when I replied, she said "Nice little age gap between your kids — almost identical to mine!"

It took me a minute to respond, but I let her know that I didn't intend the age gap. I'd lost two babies before my youngest was born.

Her reply: Ugh. So sorry. I didn't mean to be insensitive.

I appreciated her message. And maybe, through that small conversation, it will help her be more mindful of comments like that in the future.

If I'm honest with myself, it's easier for me to have conversations like that when they're written. I can pause. Think about how I want to respond.

When its in person, it's a different story. I have to make a decision, in an instant, about how much I want to share.

A few weeks ago, I met up with someone — someone I've known for a long time. I brought my kids. He chatted with my kids and asked questions about school and their interests. Then he looked Autumn squarely in the eye and said, "And you're the only girl. That makes you pretty special."

I bristled, probably visibly. My oldest son caught my eye and gave me a knowing look. He knew what I was thinking.

She's not my only girl. She's my only living girl.

It was my opportunity to say something. It's not the first time that this person has said something innocuous that absolutely crushed me. The last time was when we were visiting my hometown. We had Iris's ashes with us, prepared to scatter them the next day. I didn't say anything then, and I regretted it.

And I didn't say anything this time either. And regretted it again.

But it didn't feel like the right moment. My kids were there; the conversation had been lighthearted.

Still, was it worth giving up a potentially uncomfortable moment for so many moments of regret later? I don't know.

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