On facebook today a woman lamented, “*sigh* Second time this week I’ve been told I should write less. Great idea, guys! Shall I send you my mortgage bill, or will you be paying the bank directly?” She’s a blogger and a mommy of a large family. I don’t know her personally, but I think she has something like 9 kids. Clearly, she’s a busy woman with or without writing. I read the 50ish comments in response, as her commenters are often quite witty and enjoyably sarcastic, thinking it would be a slew of “what the world would be like without regular doses of Simcha Fisher available on the internet” type responses. What I stumbled across instead was another woman who can apparently see into my soul. “I think one of the worst things about this attitude,” she responded, “is that it makes those of us who are a bit overwhelmed by it all hesitant to say anything or look for the support we need because people will just start making uninformed suggestions about what we need to drop from our schedule.” A little further down the thread Simcha replied, “right, which is always just a hair away from ‘hm, whydja have so many kids, if you can’t take care of them?'”
I don’t quite know how to explain the flood of emotions that resulted from that exchange. (Granted, I’m 29 weeks pregnant. It doesn’t take much to unleash a flood of emotions. But this genuinely moved me.)
These two strangers gave me a sense of validation that I didn’t even realize I was looking for. I felt so heard, so understood. These women know what it often feels like to be me.
But immediately following that reaction, it just made me sad. Why are people, women especially, always so busy judging and trying to one-up the other? Why are we so full of ourselves that we think we can tell another person what’s best for them, despite not knowing anything about their life or circumstances? Why can’t we just support and encourage one another? Why can’t we do what we can to help each other out, even if all that means is telling a well-timed joke or offering a few words of encouragement?
I can’t tell you how many times I’m told (without ever expressing how overwhelmed I find myself from time to time, or in any way soliciting advice or an opinion) that I should cut work or school or something else out of my life because it’s just not possible for me to do it all. If I get regular comments like that just by walking out of my house, why on earth would I ever attempt to open up and express how truly difficult some days (some weeks, for that matter) can really be? Why would I ever admit I need help when the vultures are already circling, just waiting to attack me with their unfounded criticism and baseless concerns?
It leaves me strangely isolated despite being constantly surrounded by people.
With my husband and through prayer, I have carefully discerned that homeschooling, graduate school, and working for the Church are all things I’m supposed to be doing right now. Yet, those are the very things that people frequently tell me I should cut out of my life. Admittedly, if anyone had ever told me I’d be attempting to navigate all of those tasks simultaneously, I would have told them them… Well…let’s just say it’s not something I ever would have signed up for. Nevertheless, I do believe that all of these components of my life are meant to be components of my life at this time.
But just because something is meant to be a component of my life, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always going to be easy.
And that’s what friends, family, and whatever else makes up your support system exist for, right? To sit on the porch and have a glass of wine after a tough day, listening with a sympathetic ear. Or to say, “hey, why don’t you let the kids come over and play for an hour or two so you can get caught up on the housework/school work/church work?” Or to tell you that you’re absolutely crazy for being upset that one child covered the other from head to toe in lip gloss and glitter, when what you really should have done is run for the camera. Or to say, “hey, let’s get all the kids together tonight for some cheap pizza and let them run around the yard like fools, while we sit far enough away to actually have an adult conversation.”
If only that’s how it really were.
Instead I get unsolicited commentary informing me how my lifestyle choices have produced these awful consequences (or will produce an array of awful consequences in the future) and I should just change paths.
I don’t want to change paths.
I love the path I’m on.
I just wish there were people around who wanted to walk this path with me, not necessarily by making the same choices I have, but by supporting me through the challenges this path may produce.