Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Don't feel sorry for me...

I see you looking at me as I herd my handful of kids into the supermarket.  I know that reaction well.  It usually goes like this: the eyebrows raise, then the eyes look down, and then either a silent whistle or a chuckle to oneself.  The body-language reflects the other all-too-common and maddening comments:

“Better you than me.”

“You got your hands full.”

 “You’re a busy woman.”

All of them are wrought with sarcasm, and I never understand how a passer-by would find these things helpful to say.  Are they trying to evoke some sympathy?

Listen.  I don’t want your sympathy.  I don’t say this out of anger or defensiveness, waiting to pounce on the slightest good intention and label it as misguided.  I REALLY don’t want or even need your sympathy.  And you know why?

Because I am actually happy.

It was completely unexpected for me too.

It may surprise you, but I never envisioned having a large family.  I don’t consider myself someone who is particularly good with little kids.  I used to be completely ambivalent about motherhood.  Sure, I wanted to be a mom.  I guess.  Someday.  But here I am, four children in tow, and you may be feeling sorry for the plight of my overburdened, frazzled, lost sense-of-self life.

Even though I may look less than graceful as I guide my darling little strong-willed versions of myself through the aisles, I am ultimately happy with my lot in life.  The scene at the supermarket may be intensely chaotic, but I have some other more peaceful moments in my day.  Don’t feel sorry for me.  Really.  It turns out I am actually quite happy.

But do you know what I feel sorry for?

I feel sorry that motherhood is considered merely a side show of a woman’s talent and education. 

I feel sorry that our children have become the next measure in the keeping up with the Jones’.  No longer is merely a big home and fast car the signs of success.  Now our kids’ academic load and athletic promise are lumped into the high stake game of comparing ourselves to others.

I feel sorry that any woman with more than two children spaced 2.5 years apart must be either a religious freak, uneducated, or both.  I am sorry that for the sake of choice we have left women feeling so pressured to plan the perfect family, creating yet another measure of success to be compared.

I feel sorry that the high costs of a college education, owning a home, and day care have all bore an overwhelming fear in young couples looking to get married and have kids.   

I feel sorry that there is a mentality that pervades our society, namely the equation that children = burden. 

I feel sorry that I believed all these things for so long and completely overlooked the potential for joy in my life. 

Because for all the responsibilities, worries, and frustrations that come with having kids, I have also experienced a whole new dimension to life’s purpose, and that happiness and love ultimately override the fears.   

So please don’t feel sorry for me.  I should not be the focus of your sympathy.  And even if I may not exactly be smiling right at this moment, please know that I am truly happy.


  1. Boy are you right. I had no idea we'd wind up with 5 kids when I got married. But what would have made me happier than making and raising each one of them with my wife? Nothing I can think of. For all the burdens of parenthood, nothing has been more liberating.

  2. This may suit you-