Sunday, July 10, 2016

To The Not Yet Moms, I'm Sorry I Rolled My Eyes

Every single woman who wants to be a mom has, at some time, offered up a piece of advice to a current mom in hopes of being a helpful part of that mom's community.  And every single mom who has heard unsolicited advice from non-parents has smiled, turned her head, rolled her eyes and thought "You have NO idea."
I have done both.  I am sorry for doing both.  But most of all, to all you not-yet moms, I'm sorry I rolled my eyes.

Let me first say this, I have gotten great advice from not-yet moms.  I have a few friends who are straight up baby whisperers and I will listen to them every time because they possess some sort of voodoo magic that makes me want to use whatever potion makes them that patient, and smell that good.  But I have also been guilty, I mean really regularly guilty, of grumbling with my mom friends about these "other women" who have no idea how hard it is to raise littles.  I have muttered under my breath things that rational, well-rested me would have never said to anyone but hangry, tired, unshowered me is apparently less filtered.

I am sorry for two main reasons, and the first is the most painful.

So many, too many, of those not-yet mommies have been struggling through the unimaginable agony of infertility and miscarriage and the fear and loathing each month brings.  I cannot say I know even an inkling of that anguish.  It took us just a month to get pregnant with Soren and Jude came as a surprise that, if I'm honest, I wasn't prepared for.  I have never felt the pangs that come with celebrating the birth of baby who was born the same time yours was due.  I am sorry for your pain and I will weep with you when you weep, I will mourn while you mourn and I will do my best to never let the hardship of being a mom be the only thing you hear me talk about.  And if you need me just to stop talking, I will shut up and show up. no questions asked.

The other reason I'm sorry is a little more existential.

If I reject any advice every time, someone who doesn't fit my current life circumstances, offers up an opinion, thought or anecdote my community will be come exceedingly homogeneous.  There will be no diversity, no helpful exchanges, no room for grace or need for it.  There will only be like-minded individuals who rely only on their lack of individuality and not become interdependent on the thoughts, hopes, feelings, prayers and pain of others around us.   In that group, any empathy for others is quickly traded in for apathy because "if they only knew how hard this is" they wouldn't pray so hard to join the club.  It's a scary slippery slope and it's not one I want to go down.

The empathy for apathy trade goes the other way as well.  If I dismiss each effort to help given by a friend who doesn't have kids, their empathy for my "situation" will regress to apathy in not too long of time.

If we demand that only those who experience the same things as us get to speak into our lives with any sort of knowing or palpable empathy, we will only encourage apathetic stares and no longer claim the right to sympathetic looks.

We have to accept the "I'm sorry" statements from people who don't know what our current struggle looks like.  Whether it is parenting or the pain of childlessness, whether it's addiction, poverty, wealth management or weight gain, we must encourage sympathy and moreover empathy.  We are all hoping to raise these littles as a community, we are hoping that as the next generation rises they won't be bombarded by the stories of late, tales of hatred and fear that are centered around the unspoken demand for sameness.  And if we have any hope for these things we must be willing to hear the voices of those who are not like us and give them heed.

So to all you not-yet moms whose advice I have let roll off my back, I'm sorry if my actions caused you pain, I promise you I'm working on it.  Because this life isn't easy, but that doesn't mean yours must obviously be easier.

Let's choose today to foster empathy within our communities, let's keep them as diverse as we can, let's make space for disagreement, discussion and grace and hope and most of all love because we need it and so do our babies.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you!!! My favorite line "Because this life isn't easy, but that doesn't mean yours must obviously be easier." reminds me to have grace when speaking and listening.

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