Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 17-01-2012
The whole time I was pregnant with DJ, I prayed that no matter what her personality developed to be, that there’d be an element of unwavering sweetness and compassion underneath it all. Well, we’ve truly been blessed because even on her most dreadful days, she’s still worried about the crying baby in the grocery store.
DJ is always the first kid to offer another child a kind pat on the back if she witnesses them fall down. She’s the first kid to stop whatever she’s doing, follow the sounds of distress and quietly say “It’s OK,” while looking the upset person right in the eye. She is drawn to kids who are smaller, who seem quieter, and who are a bit different.
Last week I took DJ to the park. It was one of our warmer January days, and we hadn’t been out to play in what seemed like a really long time. Once on the playground, DJ quickly observed a little boy who was about her age. He had hearing aids, thick-rimmed glasses, and wasn’t as stable on his feet as other children his age might be. His mom was keeping a watchful eye on him, and several times, acting very sweetly as an advocate for him. “Well, he let you play with his chalk, it would be nice if you would allow him into your fort,” she’d say to the other kids who had already assembled themselves into cliques.
DJ of course, was drawn right to this little boy. She asked to play with his chalk, and watched him carefully – not as if she noticed anything different about him, but more out of concern that he, too, was enjoying the park. I made several attempts to spark up conversation with the boy’s mother, and arrogantly felt proud of my daughter for the ways she was naturally keeping him included in her play. Unfortunately, the other mother just wasn’t interested in talking with me. I immediately judged her. With a killer body like that, she must be a real snob.
Anyhow, about an hour or so passed by and DJ had found some other area of interest, and the little boy was happily off blowing bubbles with his mom. I noticed that his mom had warmed up to another playground mom. The other mom had two small daughters – one about DJ’s age, and the other just learning how to walk. I felt a twinge of jealousy. What did this mom have that I didn’t? What did her daughters have that DJ didn’t? How come the boy’s mother got friendly with her, and not me? Man, was I in high school again or what?
I eavesdropped only long enough to hear the two talking about some sort of testing. I honed in because I am smack in the midst of hormonal, pregnancy-induced anxiety and I feel myself listening to any and all stories involving children’s health. And then I heard, “Most all infertility issues are directly related to low sperm count.” Oh, ok – they weren’t talking about anything I needed to know. Clearly, my husband’s sperm is working just fine.
Then, BOOM – the most gut-wrenching line came spilling out of the boy’s mother’s mouth swith as much anger, sadness, and truth that she could express, “I’m sorry for venting, it’s just that I see all these pregnant bellies around me, and it is so frustrating.”
That was just it. My husband’s sperm was fine. And, what did that other mom have that I didn’t? Regular jeans. I was, for that discouraged woman, just another reminder of her struggles with infertility. It’s not that she didn’t like me, or my compassionate child – it’s that my over-the-belly elastic pants struck a chord in her that provoked deep pain and palpable resentment. She desperately wanted what I had. My story didn’t matter much to her, all she knew is that the end result was a rotund tummy.
For a moment, I felt guilty and selfish. I was immediately taken back to some of the hardest moments that I’ve had in friendship. Some of my best girlfriends have experienced miscarriage and infertility, and while they’ve literally been doubled over in despair, I’ve heard myself make them promises like “It will all be ok.” What a shallow bit of encouragement to offer to someone whose entire world feels bleak, robbed, and short of what’s meant to be.
I cannot pretend to understand the struggles of infertility, and no matter how hard I try to approach such issues with tenderness – I am still a reminder to some women of how unfair life can be. This tears me up inside because it’s not a deliberate comparison, it’s not an illustration that I can control or temper. It just is. It is my life, in parallel with the lives of other women.
So, to the mother of the boy in glasses – and to all the women out there who can relate to her, you are heroic. You are heroic for getting up every morning, and stepping out into a world where harsh reminders of what your soul cries out for, surround you every day. You are heroic for choosing at least one person, be it a stranger in the park, or your best friend, whom you share your candid thoughts with. You are heroic for blowing bubbles in a park, filled with children, when you want nothing more than your own babies. You are even heroic for protecting your heart in ways that feel necessary – even if that means avoiding certain people just because they represent something that causes you pain. You are heroic for not losing hope. Don’t lose hope.
I am reminded that we all have something that someone else potentially longs for. I have caught myself dreaming of what it would be like to be this person or that, to have so and so’s problems (or, in my mind, lack thereof). I have spent too many moments thinking that if I just had this, or that, then I’d really be happy. But, what I am learning is that we all struggle. We all have broken hearts, and delayed dreams. We’re all just trying to survive some days – and that they very things we seemingly take for granted, are the very things that can make or break relationships.
While we shouldn’t be ashamed of our blessings, we should always remember that everyone has a story.