When did the comments start? It seems like they were always there. I had been married for two months to my now ex-husband when I saw two pink lines on the pregnancy test. “Oh, you poor thing! You know you should have waited at least a couple of years to have children. This will put a tremendous strain on your new marriage.” Forget the fact that I was ecstatic since I had been told five years prior that having children would probably be one of the longest journeys I would ever set out on and would probably not end up where I wanted. Then he was born and in my new mommy bliss (and ignorance) I overlooked the comments as “advice” and “wisdom” and “concern”.
But then baby #2 came along. My beautiful, precious, four week early and almost 8lb bundle of sweetness. “Looks like someone had an oopsie, didn’t they?” Well, I had been desiring another baby for a while (since I had had a miscarriage a few months after my first was born) and even if this baby had not been truly planned, did that really make a difference? It didn’t to me and it shouldn’t have to anyone else. Fast forward again to the moment my oldest was diagnosed with autism and the comments began to get downright cruel. “You shouldn’t have any more children, you just don’t know how they can turn out. I mean, look at your son.” I’m actually in tears thinking about the pain of the words. Believe it or not those words were not a simple one-time occurrence that I could overlook. And the comments continued with a vengeance after baby #3 (which apparently enters into Duggar territory in the eyes of most. Seriously, someone explain this to me!)
So here I am today, a single mom with an autistic 5yo, a 4yo daughter with a seizure disorder, and a 2yo who is being evaluated for ADHD/ODD. I could say that it would be easier if my children didn’t have special needs, maybe if they weren’t so close together, maybe if I still had an intact marriage, but that’s not really the truth. People will find the negative in any situation and in a culture that puts motherhood pretty low on the totem pole I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, but it still is. It still hurts every single time and shocks me to my core. No, I never really get used to it. The comments can be ignored by my actions but seem to permeate every fiber of my heart. And no matter how good of a response I have, it never seems to truly get my point across.
But in an online world that seems inundated with the “say this, not that” posts, I wanted to say something a bit different. Because giving people a list of words to say won’t change things. I want them to hear my heart. Dear speaker, you may not know your words are hurtful. You may think it is somehow encouraging or funny or maybe you’ve just heard it said so much that it seems normal. Dear responder, maybe you have your set list of responses full of sarcasm and shock and awe to hurl at the next person who rolls their eyes at your crying toddler. Both of you, remember the truth behind motherhood. That it is beautiful and messy and unplanned and rough and the most important thing we do. Know your purpose, take pride in your calling, be confident in your decisions, be happy in your circumstances in spite of what everyone else believes you should be. Refuse to give these negative words power in the mommy world. All it takes for something to become the norm is people agreeing that it is. So speak only life into a society that seems to speak death. Because all every mother really desires is hope and encouragement even in the midst of the chaos.
Thank you for sharing this! We do unfortunately live in a very negative society that speaks more death (aka hurtful words) than life. Some people will always make a comment no matter what your situation; they can’t ever seem to find the positive or encouraging words to say. I too am a single mom though my road was a bit different from yours. I got pregnant at 18 the summer before starting college and, after finishing my first semester moved in with my boyfriend. I was told by many that I should give her up for adoption, that we shouldn’t live together, that I would never finish school, etc. It hurt me that my daughter was not wanted by some, even those in the family that should have been the first to love her anyway. My boyfriend and I did end up having a rocky relationship at times b/c he soon became abusive and later battled with drug addictions, but I felt I had to prove all of those people wrong about our family so I stuck by his side. 8 years later we had our second daughter and again the comments came–why are you having another child when you can’t afford the one you have, why are you having another child with someone that you are not completely happy with, etc. She wasn’t planned either but I wouldn’t trade her for the world! Not long after I had her though, I did end up separating from my fiance (we never married b/c we put too much pressure on ourselves to end all the negative comments from others beforehand so our wedding would be happy…). I lived 11 years of my life making my decisions based around the comments of others. Some proved to be helpful and push me to keep going (like with school, I stayed in college the entire time and will be graduating in May), but many of the comments hurt and still hurt b/c I do wish our family could have been “perfect” but I’ve now realized that no family is. Yes I made mistakes, and yes some comments I should have listened to instead of being stubborn, but I can’t go back and change that now; I can only live and learn. We all have our struggles and I really try not to judge others b/c I don’t know what they are going through. All that I do know is that God is with us through all of our battles, and He blessed us with the lives we have for a reason and He wants us to encourage others so they can feel that blessing too. You are a strong woman and mother and a blessing to your children–don’t ever doubt your purpose! Sorry for the rambling life story 🙂 Thank you for sharing yours, and your true feelings about what is said. Hopefully it will help some people put their words in perspective and be more cautious about what they say.
Thank you for sharing your story, Melissa! It’s always nice to hear what others are thinking! Sounds like you’re a pretty strong woman and mother as well!
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