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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

To Answer Your Question...

I think I might scare people.

This is, of course, different than seeing dead people.

I think I’ve scared away quite a few people in my lifetime. Ghoulish looks notwithstanding, I know that my garish voice can sometimes overpower, and my overly boisterous personality can be, well, frightening at times. Lately, though, I think some people have been scared to talk to me for fear that they’ll say the wrong thing. This saddens me, but I also realize there is an element of truth in the apprehension. Depending on the day, they probably WILL say the wrong thing.

I blog often about people’s insensitive comments. The irony is that, if my shoes were more “normal”, I’d be the one blogged about. I’d be the insensitive one. God had a bit of an ironic sense of humor when He handed me this deck of cards.

I’ve been asked by several different people at what point their stories of healthy children become insensitive. Or at what point their griping over relatively insignificant things start hurting my heart. You are about to read my answer.

(First, I must thank you for asking the question to begin with. By simply asking, you ARE being sensitive. You recognize my hurts and I absolutely appreciate your care.)

If you are pregnant with your second (or third, or fourth) child, please do not complain about anything pregnancy-related. This is a really tough one for me right now, and I’m definitely having a hard time dealing. I had extreme all-day-and-night sickness while pregnant with Ellie, so I KNOW how all-consuming it can be. But, please don’t come to me for comfort. I would give my left foot to be puking in a Wal-Mart bag for nine months.

If your toddler is “talking your ear off” and you want to gripe about how annoying s/he is, please find a different listener.

If your child is unbelievably smart and you want to share amazing stories of how s/he can play a Mozart piece at age 3, or how s/he can sing the A-B-C’s at 18 months, please, for now, find someone else to brag to.

If you are sad because your youngest child just started walking and this significant milestone signals the end of “the baby days”, please, please, please don’t cry on my shoulder.

If you are heartbroken because your child was just diagnosed with eczema, and you fear that a mild case of dry skin may ruin his/her life, you should definitely find someone else to give you a comforting hug.

If your child potty-trained quickly and easily, please refrain from giving me any advice on how to train mine. (I have NEVER actually asked for potty-training advice from anyone, so any given to me has been completely unsolicited, and, of course, irrelevant to my situation.)

If I ask you how your child is doing, or how your pregnancy is going, then please take that as an invitation to brag or vent. If my heart is in a good place, and I know I can handle a conversation about healthy babies, already born or still baking, I will open the door. If I ask you these questions, it means that I sincerely want to know what’s going on in your life. I promise. I won’t ask if I can’t deal.

Also notice that I haven’t once said that I don’t want to hear about your kids taking their first steps, or the joy you feel when you hear their first words. I love hearing about babies growing up into little kids, and little kids growing up into big kids. HOWEVER, when these amazing milestones occur, and you COMPLAIN about them, because it somehow makes YOUR life more difficult (chasing toddlers around is not for the faint of heart, or so I’ve been told…), I shut down.

It’s really not rocket science. Am I asking too much? Perhaps.

I also realize that over time, some of these issues won’t hurt as much. When you’re living the moment, the grief is real.

I guess it’s time to shut my mouth…

(For those of you who are part of the inner circle (you know who you are), bypass this entire post. You don’t count. I want to hear EVERYTHING about you, your kids and your pregnancy (if either are applicable). In fact, the more you gripe, the better, because it makes me feel less of a selfish whiner myself!)


Bill S said...

good post.
sucks being sensitive to others life events, good or bad.

Melissa said...

Oh, Chrystie.....can I cut & paste this to send to all of my friends & relatives??? J/K!!
Spoken eloquently yet gets your point always! Love it...(HUGS)

Anonymous said...

I, too, have a child with CP. I completely agree with you--everything you talk about in this post.

Barbara said...

Great post - so well said.

Amber said...

So, some how I missed the last couple of back it up: OUCH to the toe...oh my goodness, it looks like it hurts!
Beach pics...your daughter is a TOTAL cutie. Being it, we should all take off the mask a little more often, and you're still amazing. This last one...I probably complain too much...I try not to, now that I have a little one with special needs...I'm working on it!!!!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post and I totally agree! I especially liked the eczema comment. I recently heard a friend of my sisters saying how hard it is on her husband that their daughter has a mild case of asthma. He cries about it whenever he is drinking. What? Asthma? Hmm, try your kid might never walk and your kid is going to need multiple brain surgeries their whole life. If he is crying over asthma all the time he would probably be downright sucidal in our shoes.

I notice parents love to go on about very mild health problems their child has and how awful it is. I can't even comprehend being upset about an essentially healthy child with some minor problem.
Niki (Avery's mom)

Anonymous said...

I think I *might* be part of the inner circle, but either way I hope I've never hurt or upset you with tales of Ozzy. He was such a long time in coming that I don't like to complain about anything he does, even when it's insane.

That said, it's hard for me to know where that line is - I adore and accept Ellie for exactly who and what she is, but when I ask about her I don't know if I'm coming off as glib or insensitive.

I'm also not sure if this comment is coming off as glib or insensitive. As always, I count on you to let me know and trust that you will.


Jessica said...

I think I love you :P Your post rocks. Like, Melissa said- I need to fwd this on in an email to a few people.

I know I complain about Parker sometimes. I almost feel I have a right to do so. B/c I do have a child with CP. And, I know the pain of a child not talking. Mine doesn't. I know the pain and heartache of praying constantly for your child to walk, b/c I've been there. I guess I see it differently. And, I do get mad when I over hear a woman beeping b/c her child would not eat their carrots at lunch. Big deal.

Anyway, point is-- I love your post and your words. I think I'll steal your idea :)

Tish said...

A good post. I even understand exactly what you're saying in a sideways kind of way. I've never had a child with CP of course, but talking about dealing with it I understand. I felt the same way about people talking about going to church, or taking hikes, or doing stuff that I just can't handle because of my own health issues. It took me a while before I could handle J coming home all excited about something that happened at church... you're right that time helps. There will always be moments that hurt, but it does get better. Most people don't mean to be insensitive; they just don't think what they're saying, or realize how very little they really have to complain about.

And you know lots of people love ya bunches!