When I graduated high school, my family had a big party and I remember thinking that it was the first time I really felt important. I was the center of attention and it was new and exciting and a bit addictive, I have to admit. I thought to myself back then that this is how brides feel. And when you have a baby, you’re a big deal. I knew those days were ahead of me. And they were.
Almost exactly five years to the date of my high school graduation, I did become a bride. And I did have that same experience…I felt like someone. I was important. I was in the spotlight.
Kids followed in rapid succession and with that came more attention. Now, of course, the spotlight was on the babies and that was cool. Because I wanted them to have all of my attention, too. And they did.
Almost immediately, I experienced something I never in my life would have expected. I became invisible. Like I wasn’t there.
The first time it happened, I arrived at my parent’s home for a visit and the door flew open, two adoring grandparents standing there waiting to dote on this new baby, their first grandchild. They grabbed the carseat baby was in from one of my hands, grabbed the diaper bag that was in the other, disappeared into the house and shut the door.
While I was still standing outside.
It would have been hilarious had they noticed and then opened the door and saw me standing there, a bit dejected out there on the front porch, but they didn’t. After I gathered my senses and shook the “What the HELL just happened?” from my head, I opened the door to find them completely and totally engaged in the baby.
I never did tell them that happened. And the time I was with my mother and children and we happened to see a work acquaintance of my mom’s. She introduced my children and then continued on with her conversation. I didn’t let this one go.
“Hi, I’m her daughter,” I said, sticking my arm out to meet the acquaintance. “I’m the uterus that gave her these grandchildren.”
Half kidding. But very confused.
I never expected that one day, I would become this invisible. Almost immediately.
Honestly? It got worse for me. And I imagine that the worst is yet to come.
As I write this, I see how selfish it sounds. I do not begrudge one ounce of attention my children received in their world. I would never trade that for attention on myself.
But somewhere along the way, the lack of attention begins to scream “You don’t matter. Your worthiness is gone.” Shortly after our last baby was born and we decided that our family was complete, a sibling announced she was having a baby. I burst into tears and my husband immediately thought I was jealous because I wanted another baby too. Which was partly right. But most of all, I told him, I’ll never feel special again.
And I was right.