Do not judge. You never know what someone is going through.
I’m sure you’ve heard that before. But do we really take this advice to heart?
My mom was in the check-out line with a grumpy cashier. The lady didn’t smile, barely greeted her, and was just plain rude. But my mom being who she is kept on talking. She told the grumpy cashier that she was sending these items to her nephew who was stationed in Iraq. The cashier then told my mom that her son was stationed overseas, and she hadn’t heard from him in several weeks. She was extremely worried about him…
Well, that explained why she was in such a bad mood!
If my mom hadn’t been willing to overlook the grumpiness of this woman, however, she never would have discovered what was really going on.
How often do we judge other people?
So, I ask this question. How often do we judge other people? Monthly, weekly, daily, hourly? Do we even realize that we are being judgmental?
It is no secret that childless support is often lacking. In fact, the childless are too often judged by the “rest of the world.” What has surprised me, however, is that we, the childless, are actually guilty of judging each other.
Are step-moms really childless?
I recently read an article, “Childfree or Childless, We’re all NotMoms,” which said that some at the NotMom Summit were judgmental because one of the speakers has step-children. To them, that means she isn’t really childless. Blogger Sue Fagalde Lick of Childless by Marriage claims, “That’s nuts. Step-children are not the same,” explaining that she was nothing more than a “glorified babysitter” to her step-kids.
While I personally know step-parents who would be horrified to be described as a “glorified babysitter” and would never label themselves as childless, everyone’s story is unique. For those who have step-children but identify as childless, I do not think it is my place to tell them that they are wrong. I have not lived their reality…
I do not know if the child didn’t want a step-mom in his/her life, I do not know if the kid’s dad allowed his new wife to fully embrace a motherly role, I do not know if the ex-wife allowed the new wife to be seen as a mother figure, etc., etc., etc.
Before we judge these women and grumble that they aren’t “really childless,” we should get to know them and their stories.
Are aunts and godmothers really childless?
Step-children aren’t the only source of contention about who deserves childless support, however. In private Facebook groups, I have read comments such as, “But others have nieces, nephews, and godchildren. What about those of us who are really childless?”
While my heart aches for those who have no kids in their lives, why are we making childlessness a competition? Every woman who wanted to get pregnant, but couldn’t, has endured heartache, pain, and loss. Just because some of us have nieces, nephews, or godchildren does not mean that our sorrow over not having biological or adopted children is not real. It does not mean that we don’t feel childless. It does not mean that we don’t need support.
Am I really childless?
But comments such as these made me question whether I should talk about the kids in my life, especially our exchange daughter, Bruna…
I’ve worried that I’ll get “kicked out of the club,” so to speak, if I talk about her too much. It’s silly, really. I never got pregnant and we didn’t adopt, so I am childless. I grieved for years. Now that I’ve found joy in a plan B that works for me, I want to share this story with others. It’s the reason I started Not So Mommy…–to show those struggling that there is hope beyond infertility treatments and adoption.
Even though I know that I risk judgment from some, I feel strongly that I must stay true to my authentic voice. That means, I must embrace that I am not only an infertile, childless woman, but I am also a wife, dog mom, aunt, host mom, NOT childfree woman. And this complex woman has a deep, heartfelt desire to help others figure out who their authentic selves are and live their imperfectly perfect lives boldly!
So, I decided that, despite the fact others have warned me that some may be “envious” of my relationship with Bruna, I must speak my truth. And I gain strength from others like the speakers at the NotMom Summit who bravely tell their truths despite criticisms…
More Support, Less Judgment
Truly, we childless get enough criticism from the rest of the world. We know what it is like to be judged. And we all understand the heartache of not being able to get pregnant, of not having a biological or adopted child. So, why are we competing with one another about who is the “most childless?”
We must embrace and support one another as we each try to discover our plan B, our unique place in this child-filled world. If we, the childless, cannot be compassionate with one another, then why do we expect the rest of the world to be understanding about our struggles?