One Monday afternoon, I arrived home from work to find my family napping and a plate of sliced pumpkin roll on the counter. I knew exactly who it was from. A lady who lives down the street had dropped it off to welcome us to the neighborhood. It seems like a nice and admirable thing to do. I mean, we’ve lived in this house for months, but we did only just meet for the first time the other day. I bit into the friendly dessert, and burst into tears.
My daughter and I were out for a walk, when we met this neighbor. She pulled up alongside us in her minivan to say hello. We have kids with similar ages. Great! We decided a playdate is in order and began discussing our schedules. Here we go. After establishing that my significant other and I work completely opposite shifts and days of one another, and that our daughter does not receive care from any other party or person, she spouts out, nonchalantly, that “I mean…that’s terrible for your marriage, but yeah, good for her I guess”. It just floated off of her lips and pounded me in the gut like a stamp of fate. Our relationship is doomed. Honestly, she’s not the first person to casually bring it up in conversation lately. We work a lot. It sucks, okay? Thanks for the reminder.
There is another thing people keep casually bringing up to me lately, too. Babies. Specifically, MORE babies, and why we’re not having any. When I give the honest response that we may have a one and only, the judgements come flooding in. Apparently, according to some people, making your kids grow up alone is pretty much the worst thing you can do for them. I mean, don’t I love my child? Why would I not want to love more children? Then, I’m reminded that there is never a right time to have a child and warned that my daughter may grow up to be spoiled. But, seriously, considering our crazy schedules, what would lead a person to believe that we have time for sex anyway? And if we did have another baby, wouldn’t my significant other and I have to work harder to afford said baby, taking us further away from each other, digging our companionship into a deeper, darker hole? Darned if you, darned if you don’t, I tell ya!
Here’s the thing, in these awkward situations I have politely defended the choices we have made for our family. I have embarrassingly explained that times are hard right now and we’re just doing what we can. I have said things like, “Well, maybe if we ever live closer to family,” and “We won’t have these schedules forever”. I have allowed people’s thoughts to seep into the places they should not be. I have shed many a tear.
Going into this New Year, I am ready to be done with all that. I am tired of defending my family’s choices. And I’m no longer going to offer excuses or go into detail trying to convince someone that our situation isn’t as horrible as they’ve made it out to be, because it isn’t.
My life and family are still the biggest blessings to me, even on days or seasons that are not-so-perfect. Above all else, I need to quit feeling bad about other people’s opinions. I am no longer going to let others’ assumptions teeter my confidence in my relationship. And I’m done feeling guilty for our lack of reproduction. When I was younger, I stood by the mantra that no one should have the right to tell me how to feel about myself. This year, I’m determined to bring back that killer confidence!
I don’t mean to sit here and tell you that you should never say or ask certain things because you never know if you’d be pouring alcohol in an open wound. You are free to speak your mind. I just need to drown out your voice, for my own sake. My eardrums can no longer absorb the shock of your negativity. And please don’t be surprised if I walk away, or avoid your inquires. And definitely don’t be shocked if I never call you for a playdate. It’s just that your judgement-filled pumpkin roll left a bad taste in my mouth. (Well, and besides, I’m probably too busy squashing the romance in my life and spoiling my only child in the first place.)
So, Corridor mamas, this year I’m challenging you to find your confidence too! Let’s count our blessings in our own lives, instead of the criticisms we receive from outside sources. Let’s quit making excuses for the decisions we’ve made. Let’s stop feeling guilty, too.
Happy New Year!