At a family party, my husband and I announced that we’re pregnant with our third child. My two older brothers and their spouses said nothing. Both couples had trouble conceiving but one is currently pregnant and the other has nine-month-old twins through in vitro fertilization. I feel guilty for getting pregnant easily but my husband and I want a big family. We are not doing this to spite anyone. After my announcement, one relative pulled me aside, cried, and said she was jealous. But she generally acts like she doesn’t like kids, including her own—and she has a doctorate in child development. Help, please!
Let me celebrate you: Congratulations on your pregnancy! Breathe in those words until bliss sings in every cell of your body. Congratulate yourself daily. Each time anyone greets your good news with joy, soak it in. If you do this well, your heart will be full. So if someone, even a family member, responds unkindly, it won’t matter much. You don’t need their approval or recognition—your heart is full. If a family member responds joyfully to your pregnancy announcement, your full heart will overflow. Healing is more difficult if you hold the opinions of family members higher than those of happy friends or strangers. So why cling to a hierarchy when you know it causes you pain? Inspire your freedom with a mental shift away from the idea that the family you grew up with is more precious than the larger human family. When you expand your concept of family, your experience of family expands, and your heart grows. Isn’t that beautiful?
One last thing, can we discuss your sister-in-law’s doctorate in child development? I’m a fan of university education, but it’s helpful to note that many colleges offer curricula heavy on theories. Your sister-in-law may have discovered that the theories she learned don’t work well for her. She may not know how to deal with the fallout of her expectations. It might be difficult for her to admit that she doesn’t know much about children. She might even like studies about kids more than she likes kids. If that explains the emotional gap between her and her children it might take years for her to face the truth.
I work for my father. My brothers love to say how jealous they are, even though my father treats me more like a friend than like a son. I work hard on our relationship because I feel a cold wall between me and my father—actually me and my entire family. There’s a family vacation coming up. Last year, I worried so much about it I made myself sick.
Be grateful that your father treats you like an adult. Are you willing to be his equal? Be an adult with your brothers, too. When they comment or joke, smile because they are revealing how old they are. Excuse yourself and go do something fun. If your brothers are bullies, speak up for yourself. Let them know you won’t tolerate abuse. The more you embody your adult self, the faster that cold wall will tumble down (because it’s inside you).