My children are called The Impossible Miracles because they are exactly that. There were some disappointments and a lot of mountains to climb to get them here safely. Along the way to getting these two girls, we were uplifted by the best of our friends, and sometimes we met the absolute worst of others. I treasure those who stood by us and who carried us when we were too weak to walk on our own. And then there are the eternally discomforting words of Sunshine, which stand in a category all its own.
I love this blog. I need this blog. It helps me stay this side of sane and gives me encouragement just when I need it. But some things are really so painful that the process of writing it out is not cathartic, just heartbreaking. That’s the case with this post. All I can do is list what I recall hearing from my mother, Sunshine:
1. “Maybe if you would learn to sit down somewhere, you wouldn’t have all these ‘pregnancy problems.’”
2. “You’re so fat, I’m sure all these people think you’re still pregnant.”
3. “Are you sure that God isn’t trying to tell you something? I mean, most women don’t have this much trouble having a baby, and you’re still struggling…”
4. “I hope your husband doesn’t leave you. He seems like he really wants a baby and you can’t give him one.”
5. “Your body keeps trying to give you a boy, and you keep messing it up.”
That’s enough. She was harsh. She was unreasonable. She blamed me for things that a doctor had to tell me were not my fault. She was mean. She was heartless.
I have at times made excuses for Sunshine. I’ve said that ‘she’s from a generation that doesn’t understand pregnancy loss and fertility.’ And, ‘she is really just looking for a way to control what is an uncontrollable situation.’ Or that ‘she’s just saying what many ignorant people believe.’ But I know that there is really no excuse for her horrible words. I just find it so hard to accept that my mother would be cruel to her own daughter. Whether she meant to be or not, she was insensitive and inappropriate.
When I get together with Sunshine, I choose not to remember these things. Otherwise, I could not have any relationship at all with my mother.
There is a silver lining here. I felt such stinging hurt from these comments. I learned the really hard way that words can sometimes hurt more than a punch in the jaw. The unexpected blessing is that I am so gentle and so supportive of my two girls. They already know that it is safe to come to me and share anything. They expect uplifting and encouraging words from me because I give it to them by the bucket-full. Now that Impossible Miracle # 1 is in school, I can (and do) send her a word of support by leaving a note in her lunchbox. I’m the mom in the viewing stands at swim class signing ‘I love you’ to her kids as they sit on the side of the pool. I’m the mom whose daughter comes running over to get a quick hug and kiss in the middle of tennis lessons. I’m the one on her knees in the hall outside the classroom giving one last hug (or three) at drop off.
My philosophy is that if I encourage them, and love them, and support them, and build their self-assurance, that I will raise confident young women who will be able to bravely face whatever this world and this life has to offer them. They will meet challenges head on and they will not give in to fear. They will have the tools to solve problems and find answers, and they will have faith in themselves that they can use those tools to their advantage. I will build them up, in part, with the words I speak to them. And they will know that they can come to me for more of that whenever they need it.
The silver lining here is that Sunshine taught me how to be kindly loving and verbally considerate to my girls. I can’t say that living with Sunshine’s verbal lashings was a good thing, but I’m using that experience to make me a good mother to my girls.
I’m trying to find something good here. Did I miss something?