take my kids… please!

A woman I went to high school with was visiting from out of town this weekend,  and we got together for lunch.   We were never really good friends back in the day, but through the magic of Facebook we have gotten to know each other as adults.  Sort of… as much as you can “get to know” someone through their Facebook page.   We’ll call her Betty for the purposes of me being able to trash her a bit later on.

One of the things that drew me to interactions with Betty is that she has two ridiculously beautiful children whose photos I am always commenting on.   She has a seven year old son,  and a two year old little girl with the kind of cheeks that just need to be pinched off and eaten.   Her family really is gorgeous… like, “why aren’t your kids in commercials” gorgeous.  I made a habit of telling her this as often as possible,  because I know it must be easy to take things like that for granted, and I thought it might be an ego boost to hear what miraculously adorable little lives she had created.   But when I do say something to her like “Betty, that little girl is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes,”   she responds with something like “Oh, you wouldn’t be saying that if you had one of your own.  They’re not as cute once you know what they are really like.”

Ummm… you’re welcome?

The first time we had an exchange like this I sent her a private message mentioning how much I really did want kids but was struggling,  and that her family inspired me.   It was a version of what has become my standard manifesto that I have to send or recite when someone says the wrong thing about babies to me.   It was meant to elicit something like an apology,  understanding,  or at least backing down off of the whole “kids suck” propaganda she was pushing at me.   But no,  she still insisted that all I needed to do was spend an hour alone with her “little monsters”  and I would be… (here it comes)… “CURED”  of my desire to have a child.

Fast forward to this past weekend where I was informed that she and her family would be in town and they wanted to get together with me and Husband.   These kids had gone from three hours trapped in the back of an SUV to two hours trapped in a restuarant booth with strangers.  Naturally, they were whiny and restless.  Hell, so was I!   Every time one of them would get on her nerves or squeal or fuss she would look at me and say “See what I mean?  Are you sure you want to deal with this?”   (I was thinking, “What– you  or the kids?”)  Rather than responding directly to her I would say to the little ones, “This is boring, huh?  We should probably get you to a park to run around! You wanna run around for a while?  Cuz I sure do!”   “Yaaaay!”  

She even went as far as to say to Husband “I promise you these kids are going to get her over her baby cravings by the end of this meal, just watch.”  It was exhausting.  I kept reminding her that I in fact work at a daycare with a hundred kids much more active and wild than her two angels so she was welcome to cut that shit out,  but she wouldn’t hear it.  She wouldn’t hear me.

It never stopped.   I wondered if maybe she considered it some bizarre act of kindness.   It’s not like she really doesn’t like her babies.  She posts adoring, snuggly, soft-focus pictures of them about every 15 minutes on her Facebook page.  This is not an “I feel bad for those kids” situation.   They are clearly loved and cared for.   Betty is happy.  The family is happy.   So what was this obnoxious act?  Was she playing it down for me?   Did she think it would make it easier on me to think that motherhood sucked?  Did she think I might fall apart or lash out in a jealous rage if she actually acknowledged how lucky she was or accepted a single compliment I gave her children?   I guess I don’t really care enough to find out.  If I considered her a friend and not just some chick I vaguely remember from high school I might call her on it.   I might tell her she is making herself sound incredibly self-centered and thankless.   I might tell her that her little display was like pretending to hate your food in front of someone who is starving:  It won’t make them like the idea of food any less,  it will just make them like YOU less, you ungrateful ass!

It was loud in the restaurant and Betty wasn’t going to be a good listener anyway or maybe I would have tried to “educate” her more about her idiotic behavior.   I elected instead to eat my lunch as quick as possible and get the hell outta there.    Check , please!


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. JDragonfly
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 11:10:45

    This part of your post was SO PROFOUND!!! “[H]er little display was like pretending to hate your food in front of someone who is starving: It won’t make them like the idea of food any less, it will just make them like YOU less…” I really hope I remember that line the next time someone tells me how fortunate I am to be infertile!


  2. Molly
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 12:05:30

    I have heard this before–it’s soooooo terrible. I love reading your blog & knowing that other people are going through the exact same thing–all of them hit home. THANK YOU!


  3. Jill
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 13:50:38

    So true. I once even had my dental hygienist offer me her children because they are such a pain – after I mentioned I was being treated for infertility. I switched dentists.


  4. Jenney
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 14:46:26

    I think I speak for all of us in the IF community when I say that you have our full permission to un-friend this person on Facebook and to be “out of town” the next time she wants to come for a little visit.


  5. mrs. brightside
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 21:51:02

    I gotta admire the way you put yourself out there, fighting the good fight for us all, trying to un-stupid the ding dongs of the world. This story just makes me cringe. I did have a fleeting thought of, maybe she’s got some issues of her own, unhappy with motherhood, blah blah, and she makes bad jokes as a way of talking about it since really talking about it would be taboo. But she’s probably just a ding dong.


  6. Jami
    Aug 07, 2011 @ 17:29:24

    First, I love your analogy of a starving person, that is dead on. And maybe that was this woman’s intent..misguided for sure, but maybe she was somehow thinking she was helping the situation by making having kids seem not so great. IDK.

    I read this from the point of view where I see both sides. I have struggled with infertility for 10 years, but also have my miracle babies as a result of my struggles. I have been around people like your “Betty” and wanted to strangle them. lol And I have also complained about my kids on a bad day, but not to the extent of trying to convince someone else not to have kids. For sure. All I can say is that, as a mother, even having been through infertility struggles, and feeling blessed as can be most of the time, I have days where I am worn out and past my limit with 2 very high needs children and have definitely joked about putting them on ebay or other things.. just to blow off steam.. because if you can’t laugh about the struggle, sometimes it comsumes you. No matter what the struggle.. the struggle with overwhelming kids, or the struggle wih infertility, or finances, or weight…etc etc. So, I do see from the point of view where I can see jokingly complaining about kids… but also know how heartbreaking that is to someone struggling so hard to HAVE a kid.

    Anyway.. IDK how helpful any of that is. lol I think you should be direct with “Betty”.. tell her how her comments came across and how it made you feel. Sometimes people are so obtuse that they totally don’t see these things unless they are put very directly. What’s the worst that can happen? Even if she stops talking to you, then at least you won’t be ripping your hair out over her insensitive comments forever. At best, maybe she’ll learn to be a little more sensitive to the feelings of others. Hang in there.


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