There are certain moments that send ripples of joy through your heart, almost literally. Something so small that it could even go by unnoticed, makes you feel like time has frozen at this very moment, and it’s carved in your mind forever.
One of those moments came dancing at me two days ago.
My sister had gone out with her husband and dropped off her two-and-a-half-month-old baby at our house so Mom – mainly- would take care of her. Mostly, Mom takes care of the vital processes, so to speak, while I get to play with the baby when she’s full and content with a light, clean diaper, and doesn’t feel like sleeping.
Since she hasn’t even turned 3 months old yet, the baby still doesn’t seem to recognize those around her, other than her mother and father probably, and my mother as I noticed once since she’s very involved with her, but for the rest of us we’re those strange creatures who make weird faces and sounds at her whenever they see her. Apparently we’ve grown on her that she has recently started to smile and even give a mute laugh from time to time.
So, I was sitting in my room and I heard her whimper from the living room. I knew she was just bored since she has just gulped down a bottle of milk, so I thought it was time for some baby songs and aunt-niece quality time. So as I walked into the living room, I started talking to her before she could see me as I was coming from behind her, and the moment she heard the voice she was startled, and when my came into view she gave that look and smile that completely melted my heart: she has recognized me.
I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this with any of my nieces before, the moment of the first recognition, it always just happened over time, and if I ever become a mother I don’t think I’m likely to experience that either. We spent over an hour playing and dancing to baby songs (More like swaying her from right to left to baby songs), and I don’t think I have ever had the patience to spend that amount of time with a baby. I already told my sister I’m adopting her, she already has another two of them, she needs to share.
But let’s go back to the smile. I was thinking how Qamar, the baby I’ve been rambling about passionately for the past 5 or so paragraphs, smiles right after she wakes up and sees someone looking her. I realized, that’s the purest of all smiles. She’s a baby, she can’t be doing it consciously out of courtesy, she’s doing it because her mind sends her signals that she’s happy, so she smiles to tell you that she’s genuinely happy to see you.
They say that an aunt’s love is still nothing compared to a mother’s love, but I have my doubts about that. I can’t imagine loving anyone more than I love my nieces. I’m even at peace with the idea that I might never have children of my own because, well, I have 3 gorgeous nieces who I’ve held in my arms, fed, burped, clothed, took out for pizza, watched movies with, rode horses with, who drove me crazy at public places, who I shouted at and reproached then felt guilty about it, and whose smiles are the best antidote for a bad mood.
What else could one want?
So, it’s that time of the year again, when a minority of the population who A) are in actual relationships and b) actually love each other, celebrate their love for each other in ways that range from the heart-warming to the stomach-turning.
Now, while some might take this opportunity to appreciate their blessings, or to express their love and devotion to one another or, in some cases, enjoy that love while it lasts because – let’s face it- this is not going to work, [you know that one is not a keeper, yes you do], for others, the four-letter word spells pain, loads of it.
As I hope you don’t know firsthand, that’s a tough position to be in. Moreover, as you may probably know – statistically- it’s not an easy position to be around someone in that position. And, to tell the truth, dealing with people who got screwed over/heart-broken over the years have shown me what an incredibly insensitive moron I could be. I actually remember a few years ago when a close friend of mine was in the process of breaking up her engagement and wasn’t talking to me about it. She was literally avoiding me. When she finally told me she said she was sorry she didn’t tell me earlier but she didn’t need any lectures at the time. Now in my defense, the things I would say were true, as she would realize when the dust settled, it just that my timing was a little off.
So, you don’t always know the right things to say or not to say, it take some experience, you live and learn. I don’t claim to having become a relationship expert but at least I know I’m not dangerous to be around recently broken up people, and with some effort I may be able to offer some comfort.
So, here are some of the things I learned you should not say to or around those love martyrs:
- Badmouthing the EX: No “good riddance” no “Nobody liked him anyway”, no “I don’t know what you saw in her”. None of that. You’d think you’re helping but you’re not, you’re just telling them how blinded they were, what a poor judge of character they are, and how much time and energy they’ve wasted for nothing. And you might not even be right, consider that. Everyone has shortcomings, and you will always find something to criticize and make it look like the worst choice ever. Just don’t do that, it’s the last thing they want to hear.
- “It’s not over yet, it could still work out”: Unless they said so themselves, please, don’t start predicting the future, not even the near future, stay in the present. Don’t give them false hope, don’t push them to make wrong decisions under emotional agitation and fear of the unknown. Yes, it might work out in the end, but it might not. You never know, so just put that crystal ball away and go get them a cup of hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows, that’d be worlds better.
- “Don’t cry”: Especially if followed by “it’s not worth your tears” or “there’s nothing to cry about”. Remember this: people don’t always have a clear reason for crying. Someone who’s gotten divorced from an abusive husband would cry her eyes out for weeks on end, and she wouldn’t be doing that because she misses him or thinks he’s worth it, I can tell you that. People cry because they feel like crying, it’s not something you can have much control over, really. They cry because it makes them feel better, it’s a natural process that helps us release emotional tension. Live with it.
- “If he/she really loved you, they wouldn’t do so and so”: Unless you hate the person you’re trying to comfort and want to crush their soul, please keep your genius theories to yourself.
- “I knew it wouldn’t last”: You know, you could say this about every relationship you know and you would probably be right 4 out of every 10 times at least, but you don’t take credit for that, probability does. You don’t know anything. Again, break that crystal ball and go get them a bowl of chicken soup.
- “I told you so”: Seriously, just shut up.
- Anything about yourself: The general rule is, more listening, less talking. Let them do the talking, and if they want you to start speaking about your lost love and what an utter fool you’ve been, they’ll let you know. You can go back to being the center of the universe next week.