What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s post is by an anonymous reader.
I want you to know that I resent you mothers. Not particular mothers (I love many mothers I know dearly), but the corporate entity as a whole, and not for the reason you are probably assuming. I don't struggle with infertility (at least not to my knowledge, being an unmarried conservative Christian I've never tried). I used to work for an adoption agency, and have half a plan of someday adopting children one way or the other. Regardless of all this, I actually have quite an interest in prenatal and maternal health. I'm an LSW who interned at a mother infant home, volunteered at a reproductive health clinic overseas, and did research in graduate school on topics like attachment, in-vitro fertilization, grief, and the psychological effects institutionalization has on adoptive children. I tell you all of this so that you don't think my resentment comes from a lingering desire to be you, or distaste or misunderstanding of your vocation.
I resent you because we are so similar in some ways yet different in others, and because society creates this supportive sphere for you. In daily life, people understand you, respect you, aspire to be you, give you leeway. Communities, mommy-blogs, play-dates, magazines, television shows- there is an entire culture, built by you and for you, respecting and supporting you.
I am a caregiver. I know it's not a direct correlation, and I'd be offended if someone likened my parent with mild dementia to your toddler. She is an adult, and deserves to be treated as such. She is less dependent on me than your toddler as well, and I realize I have more freedom probably than you do. Still.....
In some ways we are very similar. I have to be careful what is left around the house, throwing away old food and keeping an eye on dog treats. I have to care for someone while sick, while trying not to get them sick, unless someone takes pity on me, and does the care for me. (I am blessed to have the help of my brother in this.) I leave work early for doctor's appointments and caregiver absences, carry a medical history in my head, administer medications, try to guess at feelings, gauge whether clothing is appropriate for the weather or not, run out the door late because of getting two of us ready, get followed around the house while attempting to clean, balance housework with quality time, awaken in the middle of the night, carry on bifurcated telephone conversations, and answer immediate demands. Like you, my social life has to bend around my responsibilities, Friday nights out have been usurped by bathroom cleaning, and friends have become distanced. Like you, i wouldn't trade my responsibility, love my loved one, and see this new mission of mine as an enormous blessing.
Unlike you, though, i don't have supportive "mommy-blog" rings of people normalizing the experience. Instead, i get offered support groups, as if there is something inherently maladaptive about my lifestyle. I don't get many play dates, I sometimes get to gauge who is okay with us as we are and who i need to extricate from our company. People don't seem to often try to convince you to put your children in a home, or lecture you about how they fear you're sacrificing your life and happiness to care for your daughter. When your child is in the hospital, you don't usually have to worry about him being sedated with contraindicated, potentially dangerous anti-psychotics because he is "out of control", even after you were told that the ability to contact you would be noted in the chart. You don't usually have to listen to people express their opinion that people with the same condition as this beautiful life occupying a giant space in your heart are "better off" when they die, or are no longer themselves. You don't have to bite your tongue in such situations, wanting to yell and swear at these people, wanting them to see how beautiful life is, how much your loved one is still your loved one, and wishing they would understand that the simple pleasure of a baseball game on a sunny day is a simple pleasure one can still understand even when they forget which teams are playing.
I want you to know that I resent you because society looks at your child, even a sick child as a precious life. Sometimes it looks at our parents as a tragedy, a terrible disease, a burden, problem to be hidden away conveniently out of sight.
I resent you because it seems people don't believe I can live in both worlds. I want you to know I hate it when people assume that because I am an almost 32 year-old single woman I have all the time, freedom, relaxation, and money in the world. I want you to know that telling a caregiver how much her life will change when she becomes a mother, implying that she should enjoy the freedom she has now to exercise or work two jobs, that life will change when someone else depends on her, is obnoxious. i want you to understand this middle sphere i occupy, neither young and free nor filling the traditional wife and mother role. i want you to know that none of this is absolute, and i realize this, that you do get some of the stigma and problems i'm describing and i don't necessarily receive all of them (thank God!!).
i want you to know that i just want some of the acceptance and understanding you seem to receive. That i want your happy blogs full of anecdotes and laughter, and not the support forum i once tried joining full of complaints and bile. I know resenting you for this is like being angry with the child who has 20/20 vision. It isn't your fault, and it isn't right of me to envy. For this, i apologize. Thank you for listening, though.