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.