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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The way things were

I had a moment in the hallway at church the other day that caused some moments of reflection. I anticipated being confronted with a moment like this, so it didn't come as much of a surprise.

As I was walking to the bathroom to change (what turned out to be) Ben's first blow-out, a middle-aged woman walked alongside me offering her congratulations and then made this comment:

"So, I bet now you're wondering why you wanted kids so bad, ... (insert her laughing)... and wishing you could go back to how things were before."

And, you know what? Even though I anticipated getting a comment like that, it surprised me how deeply it pulled on my heart strings.

Yeah, I'll admit that I've come to realize the demands of motherhood, the sacrifices, the exhaustion, and so much more... but, even after the longest night or the most exhausting day, I have NEVER once wanted to go back to what life was before bringing Ben home.

Not even close.

I guess she didn't realize that I already know the sleepless nights... or realize how much worse they were than our sleepless nights now. They were empty and quiet and piercingly lonely. She must not know the pain of infertility and what a heavy burden it is to carry. Or the grief and devastation of losing our girls and how exhausting that pathway is to have to take. Those are days that were filled with heartache and suffocating fears that we'd never know the joys that come with welcoming a little spirit from heaven into our home and life (and by that I mean to stay for a while). 

And even though I've been blessed now to come out on the other side of that dark valley, I am not suddenly a stranger to the pain and heartache... they have been carved into my soul, forever to remind me of the paths I had to take to get to where I am now and to remind me to never take any of my joys and blessings for granted. Knowing the fragility of life and that we aren't exempt from feeling its effects, we are living in the moment and soaking up all it has to offer. 

My response to the woman was a forced, half-hearted laugh as I went my way and she went hers. She clearly didn't understand. There will never come a day that I will ever wish to go back to our childless state. Now that we know the joys (and even the beginnings of the challenges), we embrace it with our whole hearts, feeling so deeply grateful for the abundance of our blessings.

I wouldn't trade the lack of sleep, the poopy diapers, the spit-up on my clothes, for anything. The joys, the healing, the pure bliss, the love we've experienced in the last ten weeks is far more amazing and beautiful than anything I've ever known or could have imagined. 

Benjamin is without a doubt the sweetest blessing from heaven. We love him and cherish every single moment we have with him. We don't have any desire to go back to the way things were before him.  

There's no going back... and I feel so grateful.

(Now, I guess I just need to come up with an appropriate response in case this scenario happens again. I don't like that my lack of response to her may have left her believing that I might want to go back to life before, but I also wouldn't want to spew out a sarcastic remark that I would later regret. What would you say in a situation like this?


Helen said...

Wow, that is hard. How about something along the lines of, "We're just so grateful to have him we've forgotten what life was like before!" or "Oh, we wouldn't trade him for the world!" Good for you for being prepared because I'm sure the comments will only be more frequent once you have two little ones. :)

Larsen's said...

Megan-- I love you so much!! I think there will always be people whose comments seem so shallow and thoughtless. Keep it simple. Those of us who know and love you, know the way you really feel. Maybe in your head you could imagine slapping them silly or something just to make you feel better.--just kidding, that's not like you at all. :)

Heffalump said...

I would say something like. "No, they are worth every minute of it."

Sometimes people just don't think before they open their mouths.

Tamara ViAnn said...

Your post rings so, so true.

The first thing that I thought of was "well even the worst day of being a mother is so much better than having empty arms" or something to that tune. I think that all the time when I'm changing diapers and going crazy with lack of sleep. As hard as it is, it's so much better than how our life was before.

Amy said...

I'd say something cute like,

"We're so glad he's here, but I'll tell ya, now I understand why people look forward to retirement so much!"


"His cuteness makes me overlook the exhaustion. Seriously, I can't get enough of him!"

People just love to complain to eachother, ya know? Unfortunately, it the way the women tend to connect.

candice said...

I honestly don't think anyone has ever said this to me! Maybe i would say something like, "no-way, i love it!" or "i know this is pretty gross, but he is just so darn cute, i wouldn't trade him for the world" or something along those lines.

parenting is exhausting, but like you said, so worth it!

i just love your posts, i know i say that about every other comment but i really do.

Anonymous said...

I have five children and I get a lot of comments around town about them. Such as, "Are they all yours?" I learned just like you that you need to have a response ready to give people that ask those kind of questions. My response, I put a big smile on and I say with complete conviction, "Yes, they are, aren't I lucky?"

Your post was beautifully written. I have loved following your journey and am loving seeing you happy with a baby in your arms and a baby in your belly.

Kelly said...

Honestly, Megan, she just belittles motherhood in general, no matter how many children or how long you wait to have them, with that kind of comment. Does she wish she hadn't had children? (I assume she has some.) Also, she's insinuating that you had no idea what motherhood would be like or you wouldn't have wanted it so bad. As if anyone knows exactly what they're in for until it's too late!
What a strange comment. Sad, too, that she doesn't appreciate the blessing motherhood is.

I guess you could say something like: every job has it's pros and cons, but this is my dream job and I love everything about it.

By the way, I loved seeing the spit-up on your shoulder - it just seemed like tangible evidence that all is right with the world. And it was great seeing what a darling that boy is in person.

Second side note- I loved your haircut. I thought your hair looked fabulous.

Head Nurse or Patient- you be the judge said...

I might be inclined to reply- "not for all the money in the world"- topped off with a giant smile!

The Pollards said...

I actually had someone say to me before I had kids when one of their children were acting up "Aren't you glad you don't have to deal with this." I then proceeded to tell them I would give everything to deal with a runny nosed, colicky, allergic to everything baby who never stopped crying. They never said anything like that ever again.

The thing I hear the most (especially from ward members) is you deserve the best baby in the world. I think I got the best baby in the world, but I didn't deserve a good baby I didn't deserve anything. I was given what the Lord had in store for me and Steven.

KieraAnne said...

I'd probably just laugh and say something to the effect of: "no, this is much better" or "it's hard sometimes, but it's worth it." Best of luck on these situations in the future.

Miss J said...

I'd say..."we waited a long time for this little guy and we wouldn't trade it for the world!" Smiling nicely of course :)
People say to me all the time, oh, you are so lucky you don't have kids!..that kids are a pain, etc. I just smile sweetly and say, it's not that we don't want them, it's that we don't have them.

Kate said...

i love all the ideas you've gotten . . . i'm usually just blunt and to-the-point . . . perhaps i need to tone it down a bit when someone implies that my son is "too much to handle" and that's why he's an only child . . .
i know i haven't commented much recently . . . it's not that i'm not overjoyed for you . . . it's just that your sweet posts bring feelings to the surface that i guess i'm still not quite ready to deal with . . .
but even in my silence, know that i'm still reading, still rooting for you and your sweet family . . . funny how someone (you) can change your life for the better and you don't even really know them!
God bless you and Marc and your sweet boys . . . and thank you for being brave enough to share your journey with us!

Jen said...

When you have baby #2 you will start to get the comment wow you have your hands full! I always better full than empty! I the worst day of being a mother I am always grateful that I am a mom! Don't get me wrong now that they are older and we get to get away for awhile it is nice, but I always miss them and I am so glad to get back.

Ashley said...

I would just smile and say "this is a joy that I would never trade, even with the challenges it brings."

Anonymous said...

Those comments are like a slap in Heavenly Father's face; can you imagine being a child and hearing your parent make a comment like that? I'd feel so unwanted, if we all wanted to go back to how things use to be, then what's the point of this life? We'd never progress.
I feel the same about those who make degrading comments towards their spouses, even if they are "kidding "

alioh said...

lovely blog. . . sweet sentiments. . .i know people can be harsh sometimes. . . hang in there. . . there's so many good ones too. much love.

Laura said...

This rings so true to my heart! IYou have explained the feelings of having a child after waiting so long perfectly. Since we had our little girl I have had a lot of comments like this and it's always so hard. It never stops pulling on your heartstrings! It always seems to take me off guard and sometimes they just get a "Hmph!" from me! Oops. Guess I'll have to work on that one. You have Lots of good suggestions from other people!

Sorry, I have run across your blog several times, but never commented. Congratulations on your little boy and baby #2! Wow! What a ride, I bet you are trying to enjoy every minute!

Juwmama said...

Ahh - - the comments of others . . and yet I wonder what comments I've made in my naive thinking moments.

I've had EVERYTHING under the sun about my kids (five of them). From "You've got your hands full," to "What were you thinking?" to the "zero population" speech, to a random lady sitting in the doctor's office asking if I was going to get my tubes tied after #5 (I was just barely pregnant). Yeah! That one was funny. She also asked, me, "You know how babies are made don't you?" My response was, "Yes, that's my favorite part!"

My general comment though, is "Isn't it wonderful?!" And I liked the just short comment someone else made earlier, "Wouldn't trade it for the world." Simple, to the point, and polite. :-)

Anyway, the comments will continue to pour in. Some days you will feel ready to make a comment back (funny or serious), other days you'll just need to do what you did, smile and walk away.

I remember a talk by President Packer where he remembered his wife struggling with their ten kids at church on Sunday and an elderly lady approached her afterwards and said, "Just remember, hands full now, hearts full later." My friend has adapted that saying to, "If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart." I think that sums it all up right there!

Love you, Meg!

Inkling said...

This is a wonderful post, and shows how much of a mother you were made to be. I hope that makes sense. I remember being in a surgeon's office three months after giving birth that traumatically injured me and having his office staff make over my adorable boy only to say, "So you're the cause of all this trouble! I'm sure your mom will tell you all about it when you give her trouble when you get older!"

That totally hurt my heart, that anyone would think my son would be in any way considered trouble. I can't remember how I responded then, but since I've said things in response to other joking remarks like, "No, the trouble came from the medical folks. This adorable boy of mine is a joy and a delight. He may get in trouble some days, but he's never trouble himself!"

My prayer is that my son and any other children I am blessed enough to one day welcome into our home will always know that they were a gift, and one that was and is deeply enjoyed and appreciated.

You are that kind of mom too, and I could see that in you even before you first had your girls. I don't know why some moms like to act as if their children are burdens or as if they would wish to be alone again. Maybe they haven't pondered what it would be like to lose their child's company. I feel sort of sorry for them, because they are missing a precious gift in front of them every day - even if it is one that is whining and making messes. =)

I love getting to "watch" you mother this new little spirit in your family and look forward with hope to the next little guy you'll be welcoming soon. Bless you!

Julie K said...

First time commentor, long time reader.

Wow. People. My favorite go-to line in situations like this (I had 4 kids in 5 1/2 years, including a set of twins, and then little tag-along came 4 years later) is to look them dead in the eye and with a genuine smile say "I'm living my dream". And then turn and walk away.

Anonymous said...

Can I just ask, in all honesty, why this comment can't just be taken as a silly joke? There are days when most moms just want to pull their hair out, but every mother knows you would never go back to your life without your children. This woman seems to have been just joking around, kind of welcoming you to motherhood. Why does everyone have to read into her comment as if she dislikes children or isn't thankful for her own kids? It just seems like you're looking for things to be offended by. Am I alone in this line of thought?

GlassBeach92 said...

Anyone who knows you knows you've loved babies all your life. and with Ben all your dreams have come true!!

Sam and Lacey said...

I hear you. Sometimes people don't think before they open there mouth. I am so grateful too. I am so glad that you have been so blessed. You deserve it! I am going to email you. I need your address.

Allred Mom said...

"No wonder at all! I always wanted kids and I have loved every second of it! Wouldn't change a thing, except for the dirty diaper. They definately need changing!"

I hope that whoever it was thought about what they said later and realized that it was an inappropriate comment. No matter how hard motherhood is, it definately is worth every precious second.

Love you!

Brent said...

Maybe I'm alone in thinking this way, but I'd TOTALLY spew out a sarcastic comment.* Some that come to mind (in varying degrees of cuttingness):
"It beats the alternative"
"I bet your parent's wondered the same thing... too bad they wondered that too late..."
"I'll take that bet." OR "I hope you wouldn't bet too much; you'd lose."
"I wish I could go back to the way things were BEFORE you insulted my progency."
"Fools mock, but they shall morn."
"No man, having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God (Like 9:62) Get behind me Satan."
"I'm no Lot's wife..."
"I bet that's exactly what the 1/3 hosts of heaven who didn't come to earth are saying too!"
"Oh, I'm not so immature to think that the best has already been."
"I often wonder why I wanted kids so bad. Was it because it was the ultimate expression of my being in joining with Father in Heaven in a continual co-creation of His children or was it the tax credits?"
"You know, labor pains/adoption waiting, personal sacrifice, exchange of freedom, and sleepless nights weren't enough to make me wonder, but having to change a dirty diaper! I mean who would be willing to do that?"
"You know, not every mother is scared with permenant resentment... But don't worry, I'm sure LDS family services has someone you can talk to about your issues though..."

*Depending on the situation, I can unsarcastically say that some of the unsarcastic answers here are quite nice. I just prefer to have the saracstic option ready, just in case it'll help the offending sister realize the error of her ways and repent more speedily. Still, my wife says I'm the one who needs to repent for sarcasm...

brossettelewis said...

I think I lean a little more on Brent way of thinking but from everything I've read from you, I don't think you'd say any of them. My gut would response "You have no idea how wrong you are." I'm sorry she didn't think before she spoke, when your 2nd little man arrives have something ready for "Oh your hands are full." My nice response is "I know. I love it." My ornery response is "Ya jealous?"

Anonymous said...

I would say, in sincerity and with a warm and genuine smile, "How sweet of you to make conversation. The answer to the question is _________"