We often get offers from our friends to babysit Grace, and while most of the time Jon and I are home-bodies and therefore don’t need a babysitter, we decided to go to a Wilderness hockey game one weekend, and arranged for a friend of ours to do us the favor of watching Grace while we attended. I was nervous to leave her there, but Grace ended up having a total blast and so did we. We thanked our friend and I went home feeling so grateful that the night went well for us.
The next week, our friend who babysat Grace asked us to watch her dog while she and her husband were out of town for the weekend. My husband said yes without consulting me, and I remember wondering what he had been thinking. We have a dog, a puppy, and a baby, and the thought of adding another dog to the mix didn’t sound like a good idea to me, especially when our puppy can’t contain himself around other dogs. But he had already said yes, and I would never ditch out on our friend after Jon said we would watch him.
As the week passed, I became increasingly nervous about how the weekend would go. I kept thinking about how much more stress this was going to add and how we were going to keep the puppy from harassing the other dog and how I was still going to be able to get Grace to sleep with all that going on? Had Jon thought about what it would be like? Did he stop to think about how much more stress this was going to cause me?
I eventually couldn’t keep all these questions in and finally vocalized my concerns to Jon. I asked him directly what he had been thinking when he agreed to this arrangement?
He realized I was a little upset, and so he paused for a moment. His reply was simple, and quietly given. It was the only thing he could have said to shut me up: “I was thinking that they needed a favor.” I instantly felt ashamed of myself for being that selfish. I hadn’t realized how one-sided of a friend I had become. I instantly was proud of my husband for being the kind of man who wants to help out his friends. I realized that my mindset was completely different than his. He was being helpful and good to our friend, and I was being whiny and self-centered.
I realized that I was being a very one-sided friend. I was willing to accept a favor but not give one because I have a baby. I expected our friend to think about me and my needs and had been slightly flabbergasted that she had asked us a favor, us who have a small zoo going on in our house to begin with, without an extra dog.
I realized that I was using Grace as an excuse to not be a good friend, and that I expected the people in my life to understand and side with my selfishness. I usually am a considerate and empathetic person, but I realized that since Grace was born, that has changed. My focus has turned to one that revolves around my needs and my comfort, to the point that I care more about myself than the people in my life – and I had been expecting my friends to agree with this.
I should not use Grace as an excuse. She doesn’t excuse me from doing favors for people who have done favors for me. Her presence does not excuse me from being a considerate human being. Although she is my first priority, she is not a first priority to others. She is my whole world, but not to others.
I need to set a better example of what it looks like to be a good friend, and a servant of those I love. I need to approach challenges with determination and not back out of them when it means that I would be more comfortable in doing so. My friends deserve better than how I have behaved. I need to show Grace that it’s important to help others, and that it is unacceptable to put her convenience ahead of someone else’s need for help. I’m grateful that my husband is already doing this, and I have only realized recently that I haven’t jumped on board with him. It’s time I do, and start putting the needs of others ahead of mine – especially when they ask me to.