Did I make a mess of things? I'm going to let you be the judge.
A friend posted a video on my wall, with a lovely message about how we are in our tenth month, and how excited they are for us, and just that we were thought of. I thought it was really nice.
And then I watched the video.
The video was super touching, "Ten Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Parent." I had tears leaking from my eyes for most of it... and then it kind of pissed me off. I'll let you watch it and see what kind of reaction you have (be warned if you are not in good place due to a loss or a negative or anything really, don't watch it.):
The message from the friend was lovely though, so I responded and thanked her...but couldn't let well enough alone. I didn't like the message at the end of the video. I couldn't just globally "like" it and have it out there that I supported this message, when I had a very specific problem with it.
Here is my initial response:
Thank you! I love most of this video and there were definitely tears shed. (The only part I didn't like was the insinuation that if you're not a mom you are lesser somehow...I know a lot of people who are childfree by choice (and some not) who would not appreciate that piece of the message or find it particularly true...) Most of all, we appreciate your thoughts! Thank you for thinking of us and sharing in our excitement. It's going to be great! And yeah, that boy at the end is PRICELESS! :-)
And then I felt bad for not just thanking outright and overlooking what I didn't like, so I wrote:
Sorry to soapbox your beautiful message of love, can't help myself! :-)
But then two things happened. First, I got a message from the person who sent it in the first place, that said:
I'm so sorry, Jess.
Oh no no no, I wasn't looking for an apology. I was just looking to express a sensitivity to a piece of the video that I found a little...insidious, for lack of a better word. I responded and let her know that I really felt like most of my message was appreciation for thinking of us, and that I did not expect an apology or feel like she was personally responsible for the video. I got that it was the equivalent of a "thinking of you" card.
And then, another friend wrote on my original comment about the video:
I did not see that insinuation at all?? What part are you referring to?
Uh-oh. I didn't want to make the first person who posted feel worse about the content of the video, but I also saw an opportunity to explain my frame of reference. So I did. And it was really, really long.
Okay, so you have to understand my frame of reference, which is that I know people for whom becoming a parent did not work out, despite medical treatment, and in some cases despite going for adoption (and in some cases that wasn't an accessible option for a variety of reasons). And I have friends who have decided children aren't for them. They hear a message all the time that says, "You don't know the full measure of love" or "Having children is the best thing you can EVER do" or "you can't understand what love is" because they don't have children. And while we are excited, because we are on the path, we are still a childfree couple, and things could (hopefully not!) work out in such a way that we don't end up with a baby. So it's a sensitive issue on many levels.
Then my stupid keyboard sent it prematurely, so I had to continue in another comment. I realize that probably seemed like overkill, but here is the rest:
So, I am NOT mad at this video, and I do NOT think that the overall message is a bad one. I take exception with the following: "You can't understand the love until you experience it...because you haven't, you haven't yet." "This will be the best thing you've ever done." "If I wasn't a mom... I can't imagine. It's been too wonderful." It CAN be wonderful, and it CAN be the best thing you've ever done, but the issue I have is the message that it IS the best thing you can do and that may not be true for everyone. This is a video that was seen through my lens by people who haven't had my experience, but I also had quite a few parents perplexed about how I saw what I saw. It's the beauty of life...there are so many different ways to interpret things based on your own personal lens and experience. I am particularly sensitive to it because this is my past and really still my present. :-) Does that help? Man, I should have just written a blog post! :-)
Why not write a blog post? So what say you? Was I overboard? Did I see something that isn't really there? (I don't think so, because as I said other people who have never experienced infertility and who are parents saw what I saw before I even put any comments up, and I got a few private messages afterwards backing me up, but maybe they are more sensitive because they've been exposed to my lens?) Or is does this video truly take a turn for the worse right before the end? How do you feel after watching it, given your unique lens?
I have to learn when to soapbox and when to leave things alone, but I kinda feel like soapboxing is part of who I am. Bryce says that it has the unintended consequence of making people pussyfoot around me, but I hope that's not true. I hope my soapboxing was at least pleasant and not confrontational, but informative to a perspective that many people might overlook, most of the time obliviously.
How are people to open their eyes to this particular lens if it's not pointed out?