When it’s not your birthday

Someone has a birthday this week. And his little brother has been really good about not being the birthday boy.
He has sung and watched as the candles were blown out.
He has seen his big brother opening gifts that aren’t his.
He has put up with the “well, it’s your brother’s birthday” approach to the week like a champion.

But when his brother unwrapped an amazing gift, the non-birthday-boy finally reached his breaking point—and he fell apart.
The unfairness.
The sadness.
The disappointment.
The realization that his own birthday is still a whole entire month away. It was too much.
All I could do was hug him and promise that his birthday really isn’t that far off—and that he’ll get some wonderful gifts. But his birthday feels like forever from now. And my promises sound hollow to our kindergartener’s ears.
Tonight I was thinking that many of us know that feeling of sadness—particularly couples experiencing infertility. You smile as your friends and family members celebrate accomplishments, marry the spouses of their dreams, move into lovely homes, land amazing jobs. And you smile for them, congratulate them, and truly are happy for them.

Then they call and tell you they are expecting their first child, or their second, or their third, and you fall apart. You know you aren’t supposed to be jealous. And it’s not quite jealousy because you are happy for them. You just can’t understand why others’ prayers are answered when yours seem to be unheard.
Except God does hear. He answers in different ways, in a different time, but he answers.
Eight years ago when we were starting to wonder whether we would ever be parents, a little boy was born on the other side of the world. As he turned 1, John and I were working on our home study. I was starting a new job. We were still a few months away from seeing his picture for the first time. We were more than a year away from meeting him.
And this week the birthday boy is celebrating with us, his forever family, including his little brother—whose birthday is still a long, long month away.
It’s an unbearable wait. It’s just not fair. But one day—and he’s counting the hours—he’ll get to be the birthday boy. And it will be well worth the wait.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.