“It is better to be hated for who you are, than to be loved for someone you are not.” – Unknown
In the wake of the Lori Tay viral commenting, I could not help but think of other times I had heard people being incredibly blunt, candid, or outright rude in relation to adoption. Based on my experience I can assure you that such hurtful comments come to mothers like me from the likes of Lori Tay and our own family and friends.
Consider these true stories.
I was talking with another first mom friend the other day. We were discussing childcare. She shared how she despised the idea of nannies and I told her that I hosted au pairs for nearly 8 years. She promptly apologized.
I told her there was no need to apologize. She was entitled to her childcare views for her children just as I was entitled to mine. Truth be told, for me, hosting au pairs was one of the best decisions I ever made. My children benefited greatly and three of our former au pairs (now older woman with children, careers and men of their own) are permanent members of our family. They come back and visit regularly and I would honestly give them keys to my home and they would never have to ask if they could visit. They are always welcome. (Two of them also read here regularly. Hello Germany and Austria!)
In discussing this with my first mom friend, I was reminded of something my former mother in law said to me after she learned of my daughter. Important to frame this by saying that my mother in law was a stay at home mom. Never had a career and could never have one if she wanted to. She spent nearly sixteen years taking care of her terminally ill daughter.
However, all explanations and excuses aside, she still never liked my career and my childcare choices. When my oldest son was in a daycare she called it the "baby prison". When I removed him from that prison to have in home care (due to his being sick all the time) she brought me news articles of nannies who molested children or left herpes on the bathroom toilet (??). I did my best to ignore it. I understood she came from a different place and time.
However, upon learning of my daughter and having yet another discussion about a pending childcare decision for my sons she said to me:
"Seems to me you like to leave your children to strangers, don’t you?"
Several months ago I was engaged in an on-line conversation with a BSE mom. She was talking about justice for BSEs’. When I asked her what that meant, specifically, she went silent. I went on further to ask did justice mean a Presidential apology? Something like slave reparations? A monument in Washington? I was being very respectful and really wanted to know what that particular BSE mom considered justice.
Her response to me?
"It is apparently a good thing you surrendered your daughter. You are clearly an idiot".
Almost eleven years ago, I stood in my parents kitchen and planned my delivery (pun intended). I was several weeks pregnant and wanted to tell my mother.
In my mothers kitchen stood my mother and my older sister.
I was being coy and opened with
"Oh, MA!" I screamed. "Guess who is pregnant?"
My mother looked up from the sink with delight and said "Who?"
My sister turned and stared and waited for my answer.
"ME!" I said.
It took my mother a few minutes for it to register and then she started crying and hugged me.
My sister sometime later approached me and said:
"I cannot believe you get pregnant again after what you did with your first"
While living in Chicago and working for a producer of software for the database publishing market, I was very friendly with a guy named Jim. We spent alot of time together. While the relationship was completely platonic, we were often asked if we were dating. We were not. He was like my brother and I was like his sister. He eventually moved east for a job transfer and within a rather short period of time I did as well.
I met him once at his place in Mass and during our dinner out I mentioned my daughter. Our friendship was years in the making and I finally felt safe enough to share my daughter existence with him.
After telling him, he got very quiet and changed the subject. I did not get the reaction I expected. Having known him for so long, knowing how sensitive and caring he was, I expected something different. I assumed (erroneously) that his shutting down of the conversation was a way to make me more comfortable. Before I left him that night I invited him to join me at my parents for Thanksgiving dinner. He did not know anyone on the East Coast and he did not plan on going back to WI for the holiday. Being one of my best friends, I invited him to join me.
He smiled and said that was very sweet and he would be happy to attend.
Weeks went by and as Thanksgiving approach I found him hard to reach. I called him and he never returned my calls.
Finally, on the eve of Thanksgiving, I got him on the phone. I was concerned and a tad bit annoyed. I needed to know when to pick him up at the train station.
He hesitated and and finally said:
"I have decided I won’t be coming. And honestly, after what you shared the other night, I prefer you not call me again. You are not the type of woman I want to know"
If it isn’t painfully obvious, this type of crap is yet another thing they don’t tell mothers who surrender their children.
The judgment never ends. We are branded forever.