Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A special little rant...

Dear friends,

It's been awhile.  I gave my laptop a home in the basement and it's been good mostly.  Good because I'm not spending nearly as much time checking email or facebook or anything else.  It's given me some breathing room that I needed.  You see it used to be in the kitchen and it was just too easy to check something "real quick" while making breakfast and then get myself trapped, and off schedule and behind in every other part of my life.

The bad part is that now I have to intentionally get on the computer.  I have to make time instead of stealing it.  Not the easiest thing to do sometimes.  But occasionally, something so... amazing? happens that the time is made.  Like now.

Last Saturday we went to the park as a family.  David's parents and brothers were up for Easter and we were all enjoying the sunshine.  It was also Ben's first experience at the park and there were a gazillion kids, as we knew there would be.  But it was fun.  David and I were experiencing things through new eyes and were excited to introduce Ben to the joys of slides, which he cried on, and swings, which he loved, and walking on the grass, which he barely tolerated.  Being unsure how he would handle it, we were understandably very close at all times, especially when he was going up the stairs on the playground equipment, scared to death that he would trip and fall out the open sides.

There was another couple watching us.  They were younger, as most people with small children are.  They were friendly enough though.  After a little small talk the mother asked "Is he your first?"  We beamed proudly and answered in the affirmative.  She replied "No wonder you still act like he's special. After two or three you'll get over it."

Neither David nor myself knew how to respond to this.  We must have said something, or maybe just laughed a little awkwardly and then made our way away from her and her three children who apparently are not special anymore because she's gotten over it.

Perhaps it's weird but I felt a little wounded.  Like I had been weighed, measured and found wanting.  Like I obviously did not "get" what this parenthood thing was all about.  That I must not have enough experience with children because if I did I would realize that I didn't need to treat my kid like he's something special because after three they are all ordinary.  Same.  Nothing to be celebrated.

This experience reminded me of that of another friend.  One who also has an only child.  She was told that she wasn't a "real" mother since she only had the one.  Weighed, measured, and found wanting.  Like she hadn't carried her son for 9 months.  Like she didn't love him and worry about him and lose sleep over him the way a mother does.  Like if you don't have at least three or four munchkins running around creating havoc then you aren't a "real" mother because it's all about the battle scars and the more you have the more qualified you are.  What a load of crap.

I sat down with my mother-in-law and told her about this little one-liner experience.  She was a bit taken aback as well which made me feel better.  I wondered what the woman would have said if I had responded with something like: "I'm sorry that your children are no longer special, that must be difficult for them." or "I won't have to worry about two or three since I'm barren and it's a miracle we have this one." Toss a little awkwardness back.

In fairness to the mom at the park, she may have just been tired.  She may not have realized how her words would sound when she said them.  I know that she didn't know us and our situation.  She may have just seen an overprotective set of parents following their child around the park desperately wanting him to have a good time and not get hurt. 

In fairness to me, my child is special.  Every child is special. Each little spirit has something to give to this world.  That does not mean that my child is perfect or that he will get away with murder.  Because he doesn't and he won't.  I want to be able to enjoy every minute of his little life, but that's just unrealistic.  I love him with all my heart, but sometimes naptime can't come quickly enough.  I also believe that part of my job as a parent is raising a child with enough discipline that other people will like him too.  That is not an easy task either.  But even in the midst of a meltdown, my child is still special.  If the Lord sees fit to bless us with another little miracle, and rest assured a miracle it will be, then I plan on treating that new little spirit as special and welcome and joyful and delightful as my first.

So.  Moral of the rant?  Be careful what you say.  Be careful how you react.  And for goodness sake remember that your children are special.

Bringing in April with a bang,

Lora

15 comments:

  1. We have received baffling comments like this before, which really stick in my head and have really bothered me.... ironically from these comments I have started to become THANKFUL for the trial of infertility (who would've thought I, Shari Crawford, would say that?! :) The pure and complete happiness that enters my heart when a little one stops what they're doing and gives me a hug, or squeels with delight on the swings, or even just laughs at some silly face I've pulled. We will treasure these moments, because we've seen the flip side of looking down the long years of life without them.... And with these treasures, we will LOVE all children in our families (whether it's one or a hundred :). For that, I love you, friend (and your other friend with one child. She's one of my favorites too :). I love that Ben has such amazing parents and I love that you can have a hard day with your little one, but not 'get over it' so easily (because Heaven knows we all have those rough moments or days) The joy is still there and will be there through all the moments that make up a lifetime with our little ones :)

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    1. Oh Shari I love you! Tell me why you had to leave again?? Seriously though, thankful for infertility! Amen. Not that I would recommend it or anything, but it's nice to have unexpected blessings from such a emotionally difficult and all the way around crappy trial! My mom has commented a few times that she never enjoyed her kids the way I am enjoying Ben. Then again by my age she had 7... perhaps I would feel the same way. :) Love the unexpected silver linings.

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  2. Amen to it all. Every child is a miracle, no matter if you have one or five or twenty. Each life is precious, some maybe even more so, as they were hard to come by.

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    1. Sunny, too true! We both know a little something about that don't we. :) And I can't believe how big Charlotte is getting! So cute and full of personality. Here's to little munchkins that we didn't think would come. :)

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  3. Yeah- I'd say she was tired with a sprinkle of depressed or something. Life isn't easy. Parenting isn't easy, be it one child, three, or a Baker's Dozen. Charlie finally got into the whole playground scene when I took him to this cool park in Moab. That one was toddler friendly, the one we went to yesterday was not. I followed that kid up and down and around and around. I did it with my second. I did it with my first. Kids ARE special. It's sad that sometimes people get so down with life that the simple fact is forgotten. At a playground no less.

    Maybe she was placed there as a little reminder to us all that we KNOW they're special. I hope her day gets better and perhaps her life too. Because that's a hard place to be when even kids aren't magical anymore.

    You know, sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I were the parent of an only. (Usually days that I'm sleep deprived from ALL 3 waking me at 30 minute intervals throughout the night and they're all fighting about who gets what car and yelling at Charlie for breaking everything...) BUT I think it would be similar. Doubtfully less mess- because I know how much of a disaster *I* can make- and I am one person. But you are so right; there is the same worry, the sleeplessness, the wondering if a cough is a symptom of something worse, the social worries, will he make friends, will they be the RIGHT ones, will he be happy, will he have confidence in his abilities. One or 13. There's always the fear that we are TOTALLY SCREWING THIS KID UP.

    I think part of the danger is when we stop having those moments. Think, yeah sure, one or thirteen, whatever, it's the same. They're all the same.

    I don't even know if this whole jamble makes sense(sleep deprived). But I love you. I love your family. I don't think the numbers matter. Only love. Love matters. A lot.

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    1. I confess I have sometimes felt a bit of relief that I've only got one munchkin to clean up after and have wondered aloud how people with more keep up! But then I think that this time is so short! This growing up period before they get all big and employed and out of the house and then? I don't think that anyone genuinely misses the mess to clean up, but they do miss what it represents. Little spirits running around creating havoc and smiles. When I think about that I want a brother or a sister for Ben so badly. Someone for him to play with, to learn to share with, to get up to no good with. I want it, but if there's one thing life has taught me, you don't always get what you wish for. :) And that's okay.

      Love really is what matters isn't it. Miss you my friend.

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  4. Wow, I totally disagree with that Mother's comment... wow, I just don't get it. At ALL. It's a bit crazier maybe with more kids, but are any of them "less special" ? NO WAY! I've never felt that way. Children are SO special. Wow. I hope she can find some happy and enjoy her little ones... they grow up so fast.

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    1. Lacy, I know! When she said it she didn't sound bitter or depressed or anything. Just matter of factly. It was just so weird!

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  5. PS Ben is just over one year old??? Yeah, I would totally follow him around and help him -- but that's just the kind of parent I am.

    We were just at the park today and saw a little one, couldn't have more than two just running all over with no one watching him and he fell and got really hurt. :(

    One thing I've learned from being a parent is there are SO many different kinds of parents out there and so many of them are so quick to tell you you're doing it wrong. You do what feels right for you and your family. Once I figured that out, when Gabe was at least 5 or 6, life got much better. :)

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  6. Oh my sweet friend. How I love you and how I prayed beyond hope that you would be spared these experiences.

    I don't have anything to say. I still hurt over the comments to me and - most likely in my head - still feel like I battle against those attitudes to some degree. I hope the comments don't shake you as much. Because its not fair.

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    1. Tawnya, no worries, you've prepared me well! Though I might have to have a rant every once in awhile, it something that I would be foolish not to expect. :)

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  7. My heart hurts for you, and for the mother that made the comment to you. Please remember that you are an amazing mother and have beautifully illustrated the lesson to be learned from this situation. All children are special, I have followed all of my little ones around, I have received comments similar to what you experienced (especially with my first baby) that I "would wear myself out" or "wait til you have 2, 3, insert #, and you won't be so protective. Well, my parenting hasn't changed from #1 to #8, my youngest is 22 mos, the comments to my face have stopped, but I still provide much amusement to some of my extended family behind my back, oh well. We all have different struggles and challenges in this life that are tailored for our specific growth and development.


    I have followed your blog for years, I grew up in David's ward, we were in the same grade throughout school. Your journey has been beautiful to follow, thank you for sharing.

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  8. I forgot to add a link to an article that I loved.
    http://powerofmoms.com/2012/05/joy-or-just-wait/

    I wish all mothers could find Joy!
    Sarah (Wetzel) Sorensen

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  9. Sarah I'm so glad to hear from you! And thank you for the words. :) It's always interesting to me to see what people will say to your face. I have to wonder sometimes if they think about it later and feel embarrassed. I'll check out the article.

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  10. You are awesome Lora! And Ben is special! I always like to get a card for children 2, 3, 4, 5, etc., of couples because every little life is to be celebrated!

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