One of the most empowering things about healing and getting older is that I know that comments to us, or comments about being parents, or about us not being parents, tells me so much more about the person saying it than it does about me or my situation.
How people say they don’t understand without actually saying it:
- “Here, you can have my kids”
- “At least you get to sleep in on the weekend”
- “I wish I could travel like you”
- “You don’t know true love till you’re a mother”
- “Being a mother teaches you empathy”
- “You’ve never been tired until you’ve been a mother”
- “You could still adopt” when I’m already in my 50s
- “We’re empty-nesters, just the same as you”
- “I wouldn’t be the same person without my children”
- “I know how you feel”
- “As a mother …”
- “As the father of daughters, …”
All these comments have been said to me, or around me, or by public figures. I know others have heard worse. What they tell me is that the people speaking either don’t understand that our lives are different, and what therefore that might mean for us, or they don’t want to understand or accept that our lives are different, or maybe that they are incapable of understanding. Or they just don't care. And they don't realise how they expose themselves with their comments.
I want understanding, not pity.
Acknowledgement, not silence.
Awareness of my life - its gains and losses - not invisibility.
Equality, not condescension.