“Mama, do you ever hate ovver moms? Ones dat got easier kids dan Adelaide? What about da ladies whose babies didn’t die? Do we stop liking dem? It feels wong to do dat.”
My favorite boy overflows with tough queries.
I take a deep breath. Another. And a third.
We discuss how much I enjoy seeing other kids do well. How I could never be upset with other moms who love their kids and take care of them. How, even though I love Adelaide so very much, my dream would be zero disabilities in the world. How Adelaide will be healed someday and it will be fantastic. And how I am overjoyed when other moms get to keep their babies. I explain that we can’t be upset that other people are happy, just because we are sad. It’s not anyone’s fault that our babies died, and God would want us to celebrate other babies. And, finally, how he is right. Being upset with other mommies who get to have their babies is not showing God’s love.
My answers came so quickly and easily. But his question found its way back to me while I was loading the dishwasher.
Am I that mom? The one who loses herself in bitterness? Or am I practicing what I preach to a kindergartner over chocolate milk? It only takes a few careless words to cross over from acceptable grief to alienating those around you.
Graham knows it’s out there. Women who hate other women. Who treat fellow women with contempt, just because there is inequity in the world.
I see it in the special needs community everyday. I left an online group, because women were shunning family members with typically developing children. Refusing to congratulate others on milestones not yet reached by their own kids. Tearing others down for having ‘easier’ lives…their words, not mine.
You see it in pregnancy and birth communities. Like a plague. Infertility, miscarriage, infant loss. Women turn on one another. Hatred and bitterness over something that cannot be controlled. Envy and covetousness rotting bones and friendships. Women acting like small children, belittling the fortunate ones. Acting like the struggles of the womb are an excuse to turn on our sisters. Loathing her for her easy conception or healthy pregnancy or chubby-faced miniature version of herself.
I struggle with my lot as a special needs mom. And I am deeply grieving over Laurence and Flannery. I’ve prayed everyday not to become the woman who can’t rejoice and mourn according to the Holy Spirit’s guiding. I fear becoming bitter. I’m naturally a sarcastic, cynical person. I worry that I’m closer to bitterness than I should be. About to cross over. Hurting others and becoming what I promised myself I would never become.
I don’t wake up looking for ways to be grateful. I’m nowhere near a Proverbs 31 woman. My morning thoughts look like, “Will Adelaide try to eat poop today? How many times will Graham talk back? Will Bess go an hour without being mean? Will I ever get pregnant with twins again? Will I ever even get pregnant again? How do I explain to Graham that we may never have another baby? Did I pay that medical bill? Should I respond to that crazy message or just ignore it? Why doesn’t anyone read my blog?”
I am basically Pollyanna’s foil.
And there are moments when I think about what my life could’ve been. And I wonder just how much easier that Lyndse would’ve had it today. Twice this week, I had to tackle Wal-Mart on my own with all the kids. I wore Bess, pushed Adelaide in her wheelchair, pulled the cart behind me, and tried to keep Graham from commenting on each person’s cart contents. When a 10 minute trip ended up taking seven times that, I allowed the self-pity in. I wallowed for 38 seconds and pushed it out of my heart. It profits nothing to look around and compare myself to other moms. With their size 4 waists, well-behaved children doing everything textbook perfectly, and carts full of things I can never afford. Whether I keep the untrue “why her and not me?” thoughts in my head or text them or throw them on Facebook, they hurt someone.
Graham is like me. A realist. As he wonders if it gets to me, I suspect it must get to him. Our life isn’t normal. Not one of his friends has a sibling with disabilities. He asks me the questions, because he’s trying to figure out what he thinks. He misses our babies. He thinks everyone else is having babies but us. He thinks everyone else has sisters who don’t need special school.
He is too young to realize most people are struggling with something. They just might not be talking about it.
And I think that’s why we so frequently see all this bitterness. We forget that we aren’t the only ones.
I’m not the only mom of three out-of-the-box kids. I’m not the only mom who delivered dead twins. I’m not the only mom who pushes a wheelchair. Pulls a cart. Tries to keep my son from asking a pregnant woman if her baby will come via c-section or out a ‘mom hole’ or die before it can be born. He tells everyone about our babies. Asks everyone if they have their own loss to share with him. He also needs to know he isn’t the only one.
Graham is unwittingly keeping me from bitterness. Because his out-loud questions remind me just how silly our in-heart thoughts can be. We somehow rationalize hate for someone not dealing with the same struggle. How self-centered it is to focus so much on my own problems, that I don’t realize she is going through her own valley. My natural reactions are the opposite of God’s heart. He tells us to share burdens. Comfort those who are going through what we’re going through. What we’ve already been through. Nowhere in His Word does it say that we get to become heartless women, just because our own hearts are hurting. He calls us to something bigger. And even our 6-year-olds know it.
And I pray mine keeps reminding me. Because I really need it some days.