Tuesday, February 4, 2014

why "they" has to change.

It seems as though the instant you get married, people start asking you when kids are on the way. My first thought is, "Really?" Is marriage not enough at this point? Perhaps it's the culture in which we live that can't savor moments and enjoy them fully before we're already searching for the "next" thing. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against those who choose to start a family immediately or whenever the time comes. I'm more speaking to the "they" who always seems to come around and speak words with undertones that where you are in life isn't quite good enough... or hard enough.

During difficult times, They say, "Just wait until you have kids."

Probably the most common statement young married couples hear. Isn't this ridiculous? And we've all heard it... maybe said it. Can we stop and think about how painful that statement might be? I mean, really... think about how hard it might be to take that in. I can speak to it from a married, non-parent point of view. In the middle of difficult, stressful times, instead of normalizing my pain and comforting me, someone chooses to point out how that pain doesn't compare to what they've experienced in  parenthood. Ouch. And I won't even touch the topic of women's bodies and comparing each other before and after giving birth.

During happy times, They say, "Too bad you don't have children here to enjoy this with."

Maybe I do want children in my life, just not right now. I'm intentional with most parts of my life, especially the parts that include my marriage and my family. As I look out and see how many parents tend to make their children their idols, perhaps I lean toward the side that says children can wait. My life doesn't begin when I have children. I can have happy, meaningful moments before children come into my life. I've LOVED life with my husband the past 3 years together, and not having kids has allowed us to enjoy each other and make amazing memories together. 

Also on this point, can we think of how this would sting and bitterly hurt someone who is struggling with infertility, pregnancy issues, or adoption conflicts? Perhaps some people at this point in life would LOVE to be parents... and these statements about "how much they're missing" is another reminder of their pain and loss.

During ANY time, They say, "You don't know what tired is until you have kids." 

Okay... this one is just old. I get it: babies cry and keep you up all night. Awesome. I don't need that reminder every time I say that I'm tired or was up all night or couldn't sleep or whatever the case may be. Again, hard times are not solely allotted to raising children, right? What about people who never have children? Do they not understand sleepless nights and difficult situations?

And couldn't we raise the bar on any of these? I'm sure my mom could throw the royal flush on the table by saying, "You don't know what stressed/tired/overwhelmed is until you have a 7 year old with a terminal illness, a toddler, and a newborn to take care of." There's always someone who has it harder. What has happened that we hear about someone in distress and feel the need to downplay their situation and compare it to something more difficult we've encountered? Can't we just support and encourage each other?

And when you finally do have a kid, They say, "You're not a parent until you have more than 1 kid."

So here's the big daddy of them all. This is the one guaranteed to light a fire under my hind end. Where to begin... Let's set the record straight: Having one child makes you a parent. Not 2 kids, not 5 kids, not 21 kids... 1 kid. Whoever started saying this had some major insecurities about being a parent and felt the need to justify how "great" of a parent they were based on the number of children in their home. 

This. Is. Ridiculous. 
Stop saying it. Again with the pain it brings: almost every mother I speak with about parenthood and raising children will 100% express doubt in what they're doing. They have no idea most of the time and frequently think about how lost and inadequate they feel... especially new parents. Take that feeling and then tell them that they aren't parents until they have another one. Are you kidding me? How defeating. 

And what about the parents who had a child/adopted a child and now can't... for whatever reason: physically, financially, emotionally. Or heaven forbid, what if they only want one child?! There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I think back to how many wonderful, inspiring people I've known who've raised amazing and talented kids with no siblings. People I respect and care about (Kirk and Kellie Hobbs, Randy and Claudia Davis, The Stitsworths). I can't imagine telling them or even hearing someone tell them that they truly don't understand parenthood because they raised one child.

So maybe the another reason I wait to have children is because of this mess... the mess of competing for who has it worse. I know it doesn't get better with motherhood: judging, comparing, downgrading, competing, etc. I think that I know it gets worse. But I don't think that it has to. I think we have to realize that WE are the "They." We get to choose what words to say to young married couples without children, couples with a newborn baby, and mommas and daddies of all kinds. Our words are powerful. I'd like to see the culture change into an encouraging, uplifting one instead of the degrading, competing one we have now. Parenthood is a beautifully difficult thing. Let's choose to lift each other up because most of us will be fighting that fight together. We don't need another wound in the middle of it when we could be spurring each other on instead.

So I'll start: Here's to you single people are still looking for that person, to the newlyweds still trying to figure out what in the world you just got into, the young married couples without kids dealing with each other and life in general (which is a lot), the new parents not sleeping and not going to the bathroom alone feeling unprepared, the parents of one who hear the criticism or passive aggressive comments about "only" having one baby, the parents of multiple children who deal with putting on multiple shoes, socks, jackets every time you leave the house, the parents of grown children who feel lost in that transition, and the adults who didn't have children for whatever reason life had.... 

You are enough. You are important. You are loved.

im thankful.
carrie anne

1 comment:

  1. Perfectly written. My thoughts exactly! Loved reading this today. Hope all is well with you! -Abbey