20 July 2010

Sympathy

(Again, no announcement from the house of the ravenous 6-month-old. What's really happening is I'm looking through things I plunked out while I was pregnant. :D)

One thing that sticks in my head from the P--------- Housewives was one of the writers talking about how in her later pregnancies she spent the last few months in a wheelchair due to some problem I can't remember (and can't look up because I'm too lazy to get out of my chair).

Reactions:

1. Rock out, sister. You're tough.

2. Folks in my extended circle would probably not take too kindly to this. I mean, haven't we proven our point by now? Isn't this getting a little out of hand?

I know it's stupid to think people are all that interested in my life, but at the same time, I'm still feeling the pressure to represent. Every pregnancy has its thorn, and although His grace is sufficient, there isn't always much we can do to keep the poky things from showing through sometimes, laws of physics being what they are.

And then there's a part of me that wants to know what the heck I expect people to expect. Should the only person they know who has a somewhat unusual number of kids be someone whose pregnancies are pure radiance and bliss? Kind of false advertising, no? (And I say this even as someone who, on the grand scale of pregnancy, is definitely closer to the "not so bad" end.)

Well, anyway. Into every pregnancy a little pain must fall and there's not a thing to be done about it. But it does sadden me to know that some people--especially people I love and whose opinion I value--think I'm stupidly imposing needless hardship on myself, and that their judgment is based on their perception of the hardship (?!) rather than the blessing.

To whom it may concern: you can just smile and tell us how happy you are for us, since we clearly think it's worth it--which is not to say that when you visit you won't observe a voice raised, a carelessly spoken word, a dreary sigh, a narcoleptic episode, a wince or a limp. We're still broken sinners. If it bothers you that much, just stay away until we have a jolly fatling to show off. And, again, if you're really that worried about me
you can always buy me a present!! SO obvious.

11 comments:

Untamed Shrew said...

I'm admittedly uncharitable in my gravid state, and as such I'm highly annoyed by two things: First, people on BC telling me they're happy for me. (No, you're just happy it's not you.) Second, people who have relatively easy pregnancies (no hospitalizations, bedrest, diabetes, toxemia, etc.) claiming they "had to stop at two" because it was just too hard on their bodies. If it was THAT bad they'd have taken measures to stop at one child.

mz said...

>>But it does sadden me to know that some people--especially people I love and whose opinion I value--think I'm stupidly imposing needless hardship on myself, and that their judgment is based on their perception of the hardship (?!) rather than the blessing.<<

I am dreading revealing the presence of #2 to some of those closest to me for that very reason. I think it's a big part of why I'm having some difficulty throwing my own party about it. Kind of a downer if those you want to party with think you're an idiot.

Cheryl said...

First, BC is birth control, right?

So, Untamed, you're saying that someone who is on BC can't say they're happy for YOU if you announce that you are pregnant? I'm a little confused by that. Why?

Playing a little devil's advocate here, I suppose, but I might also submit that the meaning of "easy" is rather subjective and that what might appear "easy" on the outside might not be. What's "easy" or "hard" varies from person to person. I understand the point you're making, but I also think we need to be careful not to generalize too broadly about people based on their number of children, their use/non-use of BC, and the incomplete picture we have of their lives and situations. It's almost always way more complicated than what we can see on the surface.

Untamed Shrew said...

Cheryl, I make no assumptions when I see a couple with few or no children. Lord knows I've stuck my foot in my mouth enough times to learn my lesson.

The people I spoke of in the first scenario are seminarians and their wives who have gone the way of the world. We know their stories because they've sat at our dinner table and told us. It's difficult to accept congratualtory statements from those who currently believe children to be such a hinderance and burden that they go out of their way physically and financially to reject them. They confess that children are a blessing, but their actions add, "for YOU. Not for me, sheesh! Thank GOD we're not pregnant!" (I recognize this attitude quickly, as I've been guilty of it.)

As for the second scenario, again these are specific families with whom we've been friends and/or relatives for many years. I wouldn't be able to say that their pregnancies had been free of hospitalizations, complications, etc. if I didn't know it to be true.

Untamed Shrew said...

Oooh! MZ (another baby?!? squeeee!!! :D ) said it best: Kind of a downer if those you want to party with think you're an idiot.

BINGO.

Cheryl said...

Untamed, I misunderstood. It sounded in your comments like you were speaking globally, but now I understand you were speaking very specifically.

Please also know that my last paragraph was also intended globally--thus the use of the first person plural "we." I would include myself in those who need to be careful to not judge others based on the externals of a situation. I think it's good advice for all of us. Until we've walked in another's shoes, we just can't really know how hard or easy something is. For example, I have a good friend who has a child that has been a unique parenting challenge. Sometimes I have thought to myself, "If only she would do thus-and-so, things might go more smoothly in their lives." But I need to remind myself that what has worked for me or some of my friends parenting-wise will not necessarily work for her and her husband. They are different people from me and my husband; their child is a different person from my children. And as close as I am to this lady--and we are very close--I am not on the inside of her life looking out, facing the challenges that she and her husband and child face on a daily basis.

I don't know if this is making sense. I've probably gotten far away from the topic of Rebekah's post (sorry, Rebekah). I guess her observation about people making judgements based on their perceptions got me to thinking about the whole perception problem and how dimly we humans are doomed to see until that glorious day when all the scales fall away.

Anonymous said...

>> It's difficult to accept congratulatory statements from those who currently believe children to be such a hindrance and burden that they go out of their way physically and financially to reject them.

poignant & pungent, alas

Small comfort from Rochefoucauld:

L'hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend à la vertu.
Hypocrisy is an homage that vice pays to virtue.

Rebekah said...

MZ, I just try to put such a huge smile on my face that they'd be jerks to act like it isn't there.

But, and this speaks to Shrew's comment also, there is some grit in the smile when I get a "That's really great! None for me though, I need my sleep! Ha ha ha ha ha!"

Yes. I also need sleep. OH DO I NEED SLEEP.

Cheryl, I often wonder what holes other people see in our parenting that we can't. At the same time, we all know there are some things that only the parents of a child can understand.

I think what's most frustrating for perpetually parturient types is to hear the reasons other people give for taking themselves out of the running. Although judgment belongs to God, statistically it is clear that too many Christian people say "no" when they needn't. The saddest thing about this is the huge failing on the part of the contemporary church which, without even going into the contraception end of the question, has really failed to proclaim children and childbearing as a positive good.

For every 100,000 women who "can't" for a given health circumstance, there's a lonely, scared, suffering Concordian Sister bearing the blessed cross of another pregnancy under that very circumstance, and carrying also the scorn of the world (including many Christians) and the weight of her own doubt. My heart hurts for her.

Cheryl said...

Just dropping in briefly again to make one clarification. The example I gave in my previous comment was not intended as an excuse or reason for being closed to more children. I'm not sure if anyone took it that way, but just in case someone did, that wasn't my point at all. I was only providing that as one example of the many ways we can look upon someone and think we understand their situation but really we don't because we aren't living it. That's all.

lisa said...

mz:
I offer you my heartfelt encouragement and prayers.

With baby 2 I often felt like folks I loved would steal my joy when I "broke the news". I had naively thought with baby 1 that everyone would be happy for us. Learned my lesson there ;)

BUT I think God grants rhinoceros skin with a heart of flesh to those who pray for it. And that's my prayer for you.

That you can defend your baby (God's miracle) and yourself with gentle rebukes to those whose hearts are hardened to the blessing of children.

Those sweet babies. They are such gifts. Congrats.

mz said...

Thanks US, lisa and Rebekah. :)