I am sick and tired of being told how lucky I am.
Back when I was pregnant, I made a “woe-is-me” post on social media lamenting one of the trials and tribulations of pregnancy. I was publicly chastised by a friend struggling with fertility, because in their eyes, I shouldn’t be complaining at all. In their eyes, I should just be grateful for a healthy pregnancy. Oh, I’m sorry! Does the fact that I am pregnant this moment and you aren’t invalidate the struggles I am experiencing this moment in MY pregnancy? Why should I be made the guilty party because of the thoughts and emotions YOU struggle with?
I try to remain hyper-aware of the struggles that other parents, besides me, go through because I have had my own share of struggles. I have one particular friend that I had to unfollow for a while on social media because his oldest son was born in the exact month and year my oldest child was born. His son is about to turn 11, but I had to bury mine at 10 weeks old in a tiny, blue casket. Seeing his son’s photos makes me constantly wonder what my kid would have been like. Unfollowing his page was not out of malice, it was for my mental well-being so that I was not being thrown unexpectedly into grief just by scrolling through my phone.
So while I may have been “lucky” to have been pregnant, I was experiencing some pretty unlucky symptoms at the time of my post. If my posts unwittingly caused grief to someone, why couldn’t they just unfollow me instead of trying to make me feel bad for even reaching out about MY struggles? Why can’t I be extended the same courtesy that I so painstakingly offer to others?
Today, I was lamenting to a coworker about an upcoming change in our daycare schedule. On most days, I will have to cut my lunch short by 30 minutes so that I can go pick up my kid before a certain time. Normally, my husband is the kid picker-upper, but because of the time that he leaves work and traffic issues, he will not be able to get there on time every day. Since I am the responsible parent for getting the kid out of bed, ready, and out the door every day, having that precious hour right after work to myself is gold. Being the sole parent who drops off and picks up every day can quickly push me toward burnout. Don’t get me wrong, I love my kid and treasure every moment I get to spend with her, but I can also be a very high strung and nervous person, so self-care and alone time is very important to me.
“You’re lucky,” an older coworker admonished. “At least you have a husband that helps. Most women don’t even have that. They are all alone.” Oh, I’m sorry. Does the fact that I have a husband that does help out a LOT invalidate any mental or emotional struggles that I encounter in MY journey as a parent? Why should I be made the guilty party because you had to raise all of your kids with minimal paternal support?
I admire the hell out of single parents. They can be bad-ass at parenting in a way that I can’t even fathom. I was single when my first child was born, and I remember the scary feeling of wondering if I would do things right or not. Had my first child lived, I am pretty sure that I would have taken the single mom life and rocked it. I did make a promise myself not to have another kid until after I was married, and I am so thankful that I kept that promise. Yes, I have an amazing husband that is very hands on with parenting, but just because there are two of us, does that mean we can’t talk about the struggles we face with parenting? Or are we not allowed to have struggles because there are two of us?
I think that most of us have a big problem with projecting our fears, and thoughts, and ideas, and opinions on people. We want them to fit in the box that we see when we look at them, all while demanding they walk on eggshells around us and cater to our whims and needs. I am guilty of this too! It’s so easy to slip into this very selfish line of thinking. Do we do this because we want other people to feel the pain we feel inside? If we stop and think about it though, I bet they already feel that pain, without the added weight of what we are about to throw on them. Maybe their pain wasn’t caused by the exact circumstances as ours, but it is pain nonetheless. What makes our pain more important? What can we do to stop the cycle? How do we stop the pain?