Just Wait Until You Have Kids...

I like to think that I am somewhat of a communications guru. I teach speech communications, meaning that I, in essence, teach people how to speak to others. I also teach interpersonal communication courses, where my students learn how to better communicate in their relationships, friendships, at work, etc. And I teach journalism classes, helping students to write articles while understanding the importance of concise language and presenting that writing in an objective, politically correct voice.

With all of this expertise, you might think I have near perfect relationships, since communication issues are time and time again reported as being one of the most common reasons for conflict and tension in a relationship. You would think that teaching these topics has served me well in my communication with others. And, it has (although I will admit that I am overly critical of my communication with people close to me and sometimes read into meanings more than I should).

But, like you, I am only human (that was supposed to by cynical) so there are times when I wish I could just put my foot in my mouth.

About a year ago, I did the most regrettable thing one mom can do to another. I, a mother of three children who painstaking gained and lost over 60 pound three times in four years, actually asked a fellow mom when her next baby was due.

Ahem.

She wasn't pregnant.

I think I could have died right then and there on the spot. Now in my defense, her baby was now two and the mother was seriously trim in every place on her body besides an oddly large belly. Still, I was humiliated not only in my embarrassment, but also for the potential impact my hurtful words likely had on her.

I felt deservingly mortified and embarrassed.

Did I learn my lesson? Oh I wish. But no.

Recently I said something just as, if not more, inconsiderate. I basically told a woman, a woman I care about, that her life wasn't as overwhelming as mine because she didn't have kids.

We were talking about the holidays, and traveling, and balancing all the family celebrations without hurting feelings (which, btw, is impossible). But she said something about her struggle of traveling between states, seeing her family, her spouse's family, etc. And I interjected, without thinking, "Just wait until you have kids."

Crickets.

Pin drop.

We looked at each other. More crickets. Then I pathetically tried to say something awkward about grandparents wanting to see the kids more than us parents. More crickets ensued.

It. Was. Terrible. Once, again, I felt really embarrassed by my inconsiderate words, and then awful for the way I had treated this woman. She was too kind to confront me, but she should have.

Who am I to minimize her life? To assume I understand her daily struggles, trials, worries, hobbies, commitments and schedule enough to conclude that being childless is any less challenging than having children?

My mommy-tunnel-vision is too narrow sometimes. I have several friends, and we are all in our 30s and 40s, whom have chosen not to have kids, yet or ever. And it is unfair for me to assume that they are just sitting around, sipping tea and watching Netflix when they aren't at work.

I've learned a hard lesson this past year when I said these two statements. Not only did I potentially change the way that these two women think of me, likely in a negative way, but I learned that every single woman, or man for that matter, has commitments in their lives that keep them busy. My choice is to make most of my commitments around motherhood, someone else might choose their commitments, that can be just as equally consuming and rewarding, outside of being a parent.

And that is okay.

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