Monday, 7 March 2016

Leaping to conclusions

Back in January, I was sitting in my car in the car park of a major store, getting some bad news about my mother, when I physically cringed at a personalised number plate, reading “IM A MUM.”

It irritated me, off and on, for a day, but when I was calmer, I asked myself why someone would get a number plate like that? Of course, if they were one of those women/couples who think that because they have been able to conceive and give birth they should be congratulated, my rolling eyes were valid.

But then I thought further, and thought that maybe they had been trying to conceive for years, maybe they’d endured multiple losses, maybe this was the last IVF cycle they could afford or were eligible for, maybe this was the culmination of their dreams against all odds. Maybe they had been so overwhelmed that it actually had happened to them, that they bought the number plate, forgetting perhaps how it felt to be on the other side, or maybe their husband or their parents or in-laws bought them the number plate to celebrate the birth. Or, of course, maybe it is to celebrate an adoption, which gives another spin on this.

The thing is, I don’t know, and likely will never know, so I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. Accepting this makes me a lot less judgemental (in a whole range of situations), and actually helps take the pain away. 



12 comments:

  1. You know, my knee jerk reaction would have been to roll my eyes and call her an attention seeking b**** under my breath. Thanks for this needed dose of perspective....that things may be more than they seem.

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  2. You are a master of seeing the other side of the story, Mali. Something I really struggle with. I tend to take things at face value, assuming one conclusion over the other. But you're right, I don't know the full story.

    The flip is this person may easily been able to conceive, but having the title of "Mom" may be the only thing she has going for her. This may be her perceived only point of value in life. And that is equally sad as it means that the day her kids leave the nest, she'll be so lost. Her marriage may already be on the rocks because of this lack of self-worth too.

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    1. That's a very good point, I missed that one. I also always feel this is sad. I've seen women who are lost when their children leave home, and I've seen others (including my mother) thrive!

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  3. I have fallen into this as well...but am working everyday on taking a breath before jumping to the first, easiest thought.

    I think after so many years of rolling my eyes, it takes work to re-think things.

    Bravo for heading the pack!

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  4. It is so hard not to fall to those judgments when you see something like that. Do you have those awful stick people stickers for the backs of cars in New Zealand? I always feel like they are so smug. Although I like the dinosaur one, and there's a zombie one that says "my family ate your stick family." Otherwise I just want to put a woman, a man, two cats, a cat with angel wings, a dog with angel wings, and a whole cloud of dots for all our embryos. Probably not appropriate. I like your spin on what it could mean instead of mummy-smugness... all possibilities, and much nice to think about than the "I'm a mom and better than you" feeling I get from stickers or other things like that.

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  5. It does indeed help to stop and think of possible other stories. this week I was sniffing while reading the newspaper about a petition to have stillborn children recognised as people in the government administration.

    @Jess I like your idea for a sticker!

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  6. I agree - it's difficult not to take things at face value, and make snap judgements. I'm trying to be better about it - thank you for the reminder that I need to try harder (since I rolled my eyes in sympathy when you mentioned the vanity plate).

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  7. Walking through fire does help you to understand that maybe others have, too. So I guess one benefit of the fire it so make us more compassionate and less judgmental (I am still prone to eye-rolls!).

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  8. Oh, you are so much gentler a soul than I am. Clearly, I have much to learn from you dear Mali!

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  9. It's human to jump to conclusion. And when someone does this very obvious thing, most will jump to the conclusion offered. I would never define myself as "mum" and nothing else, even though being a mum has profoundly changed my entire being. I would think that limiting oneself to just one dimension of one's life is not flattering. All these to conclude that I would have rolled my eyes and not have even considered other possibilities.
    The reason why I would not have thought that the lady in question had had to deal with infertility, making that the reason for personalising a numberplate with IM A MUM, is because most of the ladies I know that went through this ordeal would NEVER do this. To be honest, I do not know ANYONE who had to deal with infertility and would chose such a car plate. It is not they do not love having crossed over to motherhood, it is because they have enough common sense, decency and think of others that might be hurt by such a sight. The ladies (that went through IF) that I know have such a heightened sense of detail that they would never be so open to public judgement, they went through enough of that without inviting it again in their lives.
    Choosing a number plate with IM A MUM sounds just a little too presumptuous, we have to admit. It's not even funny!
    But the exercise of putting oneself in someone else's shoes is ever so effective. I often forget or ignore to do that. I thank you for reminding me to do that more often. ;-)

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    1. *would CHOOSE - sorry for the typo ;-)

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  10. I followed a car today with a license plate that read: GMA NO1. Made me think of this post. I tried really hard (and failed) not to jump to conclusions. :)

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