Saturday, April 11, 2009

At Your Convenience

There's an odd occurence happening in my neighborhood right now. We had new neighbors move in last week. They are a very nice family from Senegal with three children. Their oldest son (5) has never had a neighborhood full of children to play with, so he is a little unsocialized, but he is learning. But the odd occurence involves listening to my One-Upper Neighbor bask in having fresh blood to innundate with her philosophies. She is pregnant with her third child and coming up with wild new tales.

I have known this woman for 3 years. She has to always feel like she has what you have but more. If we tell her we are going away for a weekend vacation, she has to plan a week-long extravaganza. My parents are renting a house on the beach, so now she and her husband are looking to buy a vacation home on the beach. That sort of thing. Now she is 5 months along in her pregnancy and telling us she had cervical cancer when she was younger and it causes her to have preterm labor now. She is supposedly on bedrest, but she was baking cookies and went to the beach today. Maybe she is telling the truth, but seriously, if I were put on bedrest, I wouldn't be baking cookies and I wouldn't be getting sand in my nether regions either!

She has swooped in on our new mom and just filled her with all of her theories. O.U. Neighbor believes her children are to bend to her schedule and will at all times. Those aren't my words, those are hers. She also believes it is her job to tell people what weight their children should be, so she is always telling this new mom about her "healthy diet" that will help her children lose weight. The new kids have, what I would say, is a very cultural build. The children are not heavy, but they are not built like my WASP daughter or O.U. Neighbor's ultra-skinny children. They are just normal, healthy kids.

So we're all sitting aroung outside yesterday while our kids were playing and OUN was telling New Mom about breast feeding her kids "at her convenience." And how she is still drinking espresso every morning and it doesn't matter what the doctors say. Then she went on to tell New Mom how she had her kids get antibiotic shots when they had strep throat instead of the 7 day medicine because the shots were easier. She took pride in the fact that the pediatrician told her no other mom had ever chosen to get the shot. But she said it was "just more convenient!" I just kind of looked at her, shaking my head. I know her, this doesn't phase me. She knows me, she knows how I feel about her comments like this. But the New mom, trying to defend her new friend, turned to me and said, "Sometimes I wish I did what you did and took the easy way out and just had one." Um URTTTTT! I took the easy way out?

Now, this woman doesn't know me yet. She doesn't know I had two miscarriages prior to having E... Or that I was sick every single day of my pregnancy...Or that at 17 weeks I developed extreme dehydration and almost lost E... Or that E was born with an irregular heart beat, that although it has resolved, caused me months of no sleep as I woke up every few minutes to make sure she was still alive and not fallen to SIDS. I took E with me to work 5 weeks after she was born and TAUGHT with her in a sling 4 out of 5 days. I breast fed her while I graded papers. She is so well-mannered and polite because I didn't take the easy way out parenting and enforced firm rules and set schedules. Nothing about my maternal experience is "at my convenience" or the "easy-way out." I wasn't sure how to respond to this woman's flippant comment. I am sure she didn't mean to hurt my feelings or make me feel as if I were less of a mother, but she did.

So I am holding my tongue right now. I think when we are alone and not in the grips of OUN, I will tell her my history. I will set her straight and be the other side of OUN. I honestly think OUN poisoned the well with her ideas and made the other mom feel bad about herself. Her kids are not as well-mannered, or skinny, and she is dealing with a breastfeeding 3 month old baby who has just been uprooted and is nursing on demand all the time. She's feeling tired and worn out and made a comment out of turn. She tried to be more like OUN and she took a shot at me because OUN's pull is just that strong. And I believe moms need to support each other and lift each other up, not degrade each other. So I will wait. And I will listen to her and tell her it is okay to feel the way she is feeling about being a mom of three right now, that it is hard, but she has moved into a neighborhood that treats their kid with a village mentality and we will help. But I will let her know- nothing about motherhood is at our convenience. That is a sheer fallacy I will not perpetuate.

Baby Zane update: my friend's baby has been taken off a ventilator and is able to nurse and feed now. He is still in NICU but getting stronger every day and the family is now feeling hopeful. Thanks for all your thoughts!


Jeannie said...

I'm sure the new mom certainly never meant to hurt your feelings - no, she did not have a clue what you went through to have your one child but you also don't know what she might have gone through in having 3. I can say in general that 3 kids are much harder to manage than 1 unless that one has severe health problems.

charli-tan said...

I think what is most upsetting about new neighbors comments is not so much that she seems to be belittling your experience since you only have one child, but she is making a GRAND assumption that having one child was a CHOICE.

Harder or easier there are many women who would give a few years off their lives to have multiple children and can't; to make that kind of comnment with no knowledge of your personal struggles is insensitive at best.

You are truly a better person than I. I would have shot back immediately with some biting comment about my "easy way out" not being a choice. This is why I would make an AWFUL Clergy Wife!! :-)

Anonymous said...

Being infertile and childless, people have felt free to make all kinds of comments about my "selfishness" and my good luck at being so well off. I used to just bleed inside hearing such hurtful statements. My mind would be full of hurtful things to say in reply and yet know it meaningless because I wasn't willing to spill my guts to every person of what I was going through. I wish I could have said "wow it amazes how thoughtless and hurtful you are with your words" but would a thoughtless person really get it? Would OUM in a gossip fest take your tale and play with it like she does everything else?