Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Pendulum: Honesty and Negativity

When Emma was six months pregnant with Eleanor, she rang me one day to have a chat, and during the conversation, I asked whether she had received much encouragement from other mums.  She told me she had received very little, and that most of it had been scare tactics from 'negative nannies'.

I was thinking, The poor thing!  I know how she feels!  You see, even though I've never been pregnant, I've received enough negativity from women a few steps ahead of me on life's journey to last me ten lifetimes!  Much of this has centred around marriage which I wrote about in Marriage 101: Post-Wedding Doom and Marriage 101: DINKs in the Middle.  Comments such as "The romance will fade," and "Wait 'til you have kids!" really get my goat!

It's not that I object to being told the truth, but the key word here is LOVINGLY.  I very much doubt whether some of these comments were to serve me.  I think they more accurately expressed the other person's jealousy and discontentment in their own circumstances rather than to lovingly prepare me for the next stage of my life.  When someone says something overswhelmingly whingy and negative about marriage or babies, to me it sounds like, "Suffer like I am," or "If my baby won't sleep through the night, then I don't want yours to either."   I get in my head that parenthood must be hard, but still I wonder why some mothers nag me to join the 'Mums and Bubs Club', yet then proceed to scare me out of my wits.  If it is so ghastly horrible with no positives at all, then why did they have more than one kid?!?

Karen from Hippocampus Extensions, who is expecting her first child wrote here, The other unhelpful thing is the pessimism and the “You don't know what you're in for” attitude. Ben thinks other parents do it because it's fun for them to watch the “newbies” squirm. For me, I really don't need it and I really don't appreciate it, thank you very much. (I also haven't figured out how to respond to it graciously either. If you have some ideas, please share.)

I appreciated some young women who married a few years prior to myself telling me honestly about the likelihood of conflict in the first year of marriage.  They weren't saying, "You'll definitely fight", nor were they implying that if we don't fight then we are freaks with poor communication skills.  They were simply warning me of the fact that it happened to them and many others, and if it happens, it's ok, it's normal.  When a friend who is now engaged asked me how our first year of marriage went, I was careful to share with her the good, the bad and the ugly.  I didn't want to scare her off marriage, but nor did I want her to think my experiences will be her experiences.  That isn't always the case.

I was getting quite mad with some people for turning on the negativity hose during Emma's baby shower and giving her a good blast with it.  They kept saying stuff like, "It's gonna hurt so bad," or, "Be prepared to have no sleep for years".   Honestly, I felt like screaming, "SHUT UP!"  Emma is not stupid.  She knows all of this stuff and had prepared herself as best as she could in her head.  She even had it written on her Facebook page, Looking forward to motherhood - all the joys and all the challenges.  Even though I'm childless, I kept trying to reassure her that she had the patience of a saint (she lived with me for over three years!), and that was a key ingredient required for motherhood.

Jean from In All Honesty has a great post here called 13 Ways to Discourage a Younger Woman which she followed up with How to Encourage a Younger Woman and be Honest at the Same Time.  On the first post, I commented, I appreciate people being real and honest, but there is a line, and are the motives to lovingly prepare someone for the next stage, or to kill off others' joy because joy is lacking in their own lives?

Yes, what ARE our motivations for being honest?

Let us not stop sharing with honesty, but motivated not by jealousy or discontentment, but love.

1 comment:

Iris Flavia said...

Must be very frustrated, jealous people who do things like that!

Am I happy I never met someone like that! I´m even happier I am not like that! ;-)
And hope I never will be, thanks, good post! Guess many people just don´t think ahead when they give their "advise"...