Saturday, October 30, 2010

Comparing

I had the privilege of spending some time with two beautiful women last night. We shared stories, cried, laughed, and felt a true connection through the struggles of motherhood. All 3 of us have/had special needs babies. Two of us have lost, and the third is still fighting.

Listening to these women's stories, there was an overwhelming sense of community. Even though we don't specifically know what each person has gone through or the specific struggles we each still face, we understand one thing completely: we all love our children and will do what we believe is right and best for them- even if our opinions are different.

There was no judgement, no comparing, no competition between the 3 of us. Just listening, sharing, understanding and a genuine feeling of love for each other.

Often times, as mothers, we do the exact opposite of what I experienced last night. We tend to take on the role of "all knowing mothering goddess". What is right or best for our kids, certainly is best for other's children as well right? We compare our stories, and judge each other.

Something I've found through my grief journey, is that there is competition amongst us. Who has it worse? Me, who sat by Joshua's side for 51 days and watched him die in my arms, or a mother who delivered a still born baby- never getting the chance to see their child's beautiful eyes? Who's loss is more tragic? Who's hurts more? Ultimately, a loss is a loss. Plain and simple. It hurts and it sucks. End of story. There is no comparing.

What do we gain by comparing stories? In the same way, what do we gain when we judge other's for the decisions they make for their families? We feed our kids McDonald's, didn't cloth diaper them, I breastfed, we circumcised and vaccinated, and didn't practice baby wearing. I don't have a clue what attachment parenting is, and I have no interest in eating strictly organic or homegrown food. I used to work outside the home, we rarely put our kids in pajamas, and we will be sending our children to public school.

Do those things make me a bad mother? No way! I love my children fiercely, they are well behaved, well adapted, and we are doing the best we can with the information that we receive and the resources that are available to us. We make choices that are the best for our family at the time we have to make them. We think of their future and want them to be as successful and healthy as possible. Are we right and you're wrong because you choose to do the exact opposite of us? No way! You still ultimately have the same goals and love for your children that we have for ours. Is either of us wrong? Nope, just different!

So why all the fighting? Why all the judging? Why all the comparing? What are we losing out on when we do these things to each other?

Last night, my time spent with 2 very beautiful and very different mothers reinforced what I have been learning since Joshua's death: Mother's love their children. Mother's make choices that not every mother would agree with- and it's OK.

When we fight and judge, we lose out of the fellowship that is so important among us. We lose out on the opportunity for amazingly beautiful friendships. We damage other's self image through our words. We cause conflict and pain that is unnecessary. We miss out on the opportunity to minister to others right where they are. We miss out on the opportunity to love and to teach our children about diversity.

I do not claim to be perfect. We have made mistakes as parents, but one thing is for sure. We are doing the best we can. We love our children with every fiber of our being, and we want what is best for them and (even though you may do things differently) I know that you do too. Isn't that all that matters?

24 comments:

Michelle said...

For real? Who's judging/comparing? I've never seen this at all in the babyloss community. Sorry you had to. I mean, I understand that the JOURNEY leading to loss - everyone's is different. But once it happens, the story's pretty much the same.

The Real Life of a Red Head said...

Michelle- it's not necessarily in the babyloss community, it's just with mothers/parenting in general.

Mommy of 2 Boys said...

I am so glad you are able to spend time with these mothers and share your stories. *HUGS* to you.

The mom of 4 monkeys! said...

So very true and very well written!

messylifeoflisa said...

Very well said! I have never, and will never, understand the need that some mothers have to try to make others feel bad about differences in parenting choices. The goal of all parents should be to raise happy, healthy children who will become successful adults. The paths that lead there are endless. I can't even begin to understand the mentality of someone who needs to prove they are the best mom on the planet, by belittling and hurting others.

Paula B said...

My! My! Have you hit the nail on the head! You are becoming a very wise woman/wife/mother. Wise beyond your years! This is a God thing!

adrienne said...

Well said! We all think that we are the perfect parents but the truth is we all are! I love the way we all love our children and if we all parented the same this would be a dull world.

Lisa said...

Thank you for this post, Jill. Ever since someone IRL asked me how long Gabriel lived and then responded to my answer with a very snarky "I wish I would have had four months", I have found it even more difficult to write about my grief or Gabriel. I'm glad that you have found people you can relate to who don't judge you.

Anonymous said...

Very well written.

This too was one of the most surprising things to me when I became a mother: how much we judge each other. It starts with pregnancy and it ends: never.

And I think that everybody has done it atleast at some point, whether off a story on the news, or a screaming child in the grocery store, etc. So often people want to believe that they and their children are above "that" kind of parenting, etc. When truth be told, we've all had moments in the grocery store where yours is the child that just darted down the aisle and gasp! begged for cheetos instead of an apple. It happens. It's life. What is really "that" kind of parenting anyway? The person who can do the best job of keeping their own secrets that their kids aren't perfect all the time?? Because no child doesn't push the limit sometimes. That's why so-called limits exist in the first place. If we listened and believed every limit ever placed on us, our lives would be quite different. Children are the same way, naturally driven to push the limit.

I have made a conscious effort to NOT judge other mothers because I find that I learn more doing the opposite, being open and accepting to the views and parenting methods of others while holding to the belief that we all love our children. And that truly, sometimes there is NO right answer.


I think this same judgmental comparison surfaces with a very ugly face when a mother has lost a child. We all want to feel "immune" to it. "Above" it. "Better" than it. Because the fear is too much. The fear of being the kind of person who actually loses a child. Admitting that YOU ARE the kind of person that loses a child. That people who are very normal and wanted the same things for their children, the same hopes and dreams that you carry out every day with yours actually lose children. It is TERRIFYING to admit that truth. It's the easier road to think "If only she had..." "What if they'd tried..." "I would never have..." "If it were me I'd...." Trying to control a situation that nobody had control over to begin with. It comforts people who have never been through it because they don't know what to do with the reality of it all. That they do not have an immunity. That loving your child doesn't mean you can't lose them. That being a good mother won't stop you from being the mother to a child no longer living. There is no guarantee of that. It is easier to believe it's somebody else's fault than to believe THAT. I think this also comes up even more for people who do not have faith. There has to be a physical reason for somebody's death. When you hear somebody died of lung cancer the immediate question people ask "Was he a smoker?" When you hear a person died in a car accident, people immediately ask "was he wearing a seatbelt?" Does it really matter, any of it? Will any of the what ifs ever bring back the person that the world has lost? No. But it might comfort the living to think they are not at the same risk because they don't do the things the dead person did, they don't make the choices the mother made of that child. (atleast they don't think they do)

But people believe those things to protect themselves, not those who are grieving.

Wayne and Sue Rasmussen said...

Jill,
Couldn't have said it better. You are right ... we all do it ... but to what avail? Absolutely nothing positive! I was a good mommy, even though I sent my kids to school and my brother/sister-in=law homeschooled theirs. You are a good mommy too, regardless of what others have said.
Glad you had a good time visiting with these friends. Still praying for you.
Sue

The Sears Family said...

I started to comment and then I wrote a novel so...
http://bit.ly/bXU2Ap

Anonymous said...

U killed your baby..thats what makes your different.

grammie09 said...

Anyone who would write a comment like that is so very ignorant..

melis said...

so beautifully stated Jill! so glad you had such a great experience! sending love and hugs! xo

Jami said...

Jill-
I came across your blog via Twitter, I don't know your story other then the past month of so of postings and I just feel like I should tell you how much I admire your strength. I've watched a close friend lose her baby and I don't know how you go on other then you have no other choice. Your most recent post is so spot on too. While we are all entitled to our own opinion, it is NOT our job or right to push our opinion on someone else. Live and let live...

brittanyib said...

I couldn't agree more. I'm not a mother, but I have noticed this on message boards, etc. It seems like everyone is an expert on the "right" way to parent, when in reality there is only the "right way for *x* family."

Lauren said...

Perfectly said. Lots of hugs!

Kari said...

I found a MOPS group, and it was so nice to hear how different we all were in our parenting styles. Take what you want from each other's styles, and do others your own way. It's a great way to learn new things. And ps- my kids eat McDonalds too :) Xo

Anonymous said...

I hate it that I learn from you. I hate it that among your grief, I am learning. Every single day. There is not enough space in this little box for me to type out all that I have learned. I hate it because I am such a sinful person that it has taken your journey to make me completely surrender my life. I wish that it wouldn't of taken your pain, heartache, loss, grief and even happiness for me to understand that we are all God's children and need to do our best to let His light shine inside and outside of us. Among the storms of your life, I am so very thankful for you. I am thankful for your love for Christ. I am thankful for your family. You all, and your love for our God has changed my life forever. I know this is not you being strong, and somehow uplifting. This is our awesome God at work, and you are most definetly a wonderful daughter to Him. You are showing us all! Thanks is just not even enough. I love you.
Tanya

Sparklyfarts said...

This is something I've been saying for a while now and it makes me sad that mom's are like this. We have more things in common than different, yet we focus on what is different. I'll never understand it. Thanks for this post Jill.
I learn from you everyday! I'm not a Christian (anymore)and I have a foul mouth and a grumpy disposition most of the time, yet you can find humor in things I say on Twitter and I find strength from you on your blog/twitter.

The Real Life of a Red Head said...

Tanya-

Your comment made me cry. I hate that it has taken our grief to help people like you too, but I am SO THANKFUL that our story has helped you. I would do it all again for just that very reason.

My heart beats for God. In the midst of my deepest sorrow, my chest feels like it will explode from the love I have for God. I want everyone to know that kind of love.

I am so thankful for your words. I am thankful to hear that our struggles are not for nothing!

Thank you.

Love to you!

Sparklyfarts- I love you too! I love your foul mouth and grumpy disposition- i do understand you! Sarcasm is my love language- you just cant' tell from my blog! :o) I'm glad we get eachother!

The Cox Family said...

Amen! Women are so mean to eachother! It's really sad.

~ Rebekah ~ said...

I think you said that very well, Jill. Sometimes people get so wrapped up in, "I'm right and you're wrong" and don't stop to think that each parent has to decide for themselves what is right for their child.

My parents sent me to public school and I was allowed to wear pants growing up. There were some families in my church who frowned on both those things and let us know that they thought it was wrong. LOL I even had one girl tell me it was a sin to wear a pony tail to church on Sunday nights . . . Really?? God tells us how to wear our hair to church? This is new.

But seriously, I believe that we're accountable for our own actions and in raising our own children. The Bible says 'Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' If we see sin in someone's life, that's a different story, but many of these differences are 'preferences'. Okay, I'm done rambling. :)

walk of shame said...

I found your blog through mompetition and couldn't believe that there were people who would blame you for your loss and yet it didn't take long to find just that. I am stunned that some people, anonymously of course, feel the need to blame you for your son passing away. It is sickening!

I am so sorry for your loss...

 
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