Sunday, December 23, 2012

Being Polite to Strangers- Pretend to be Nice

There is a lot of talk on the BLM/ IF blogs about how to deal with being childless at the holidays. People in this community are often very sensitive- they are hurting, sad and feel like they stick out at a time that is so focused on children. I think there is a lot of over sensitivity in this population too though, and that's what I want to talk about today. Not having a child when you want one is very difficult, especially when you're smack in the middle of a season made for children and families, but this is no reason to be rude.

I have seen many posts around the internet of how to deal with who people forget to mention your deceased child. Many of the suggested  responses are rude and made to embarrass the person. This seems to be the opposite of how we want to be treated, so why should we give to others what we don't want in return? Correcting a grandparent on how many grandchildren they have: "No, mom you have 7 grandkids. You keep forgetting (name of dead baby)" really rubs me the wrong way. That might be technically true, but if grandma is talking about the kids she sees, helps raise and buys Christmas gifts for, 6 is the correct number. Grandma thinks of her grandkids as the living children, as many of us do. How many BLMs write posts about how they responded to the question "How many kids do you have" without including the one who died. -- why should we be rude to grandma when she does the same?

To hear it another way, I don't consider myself a mother. I know there are others who feel that way, Mrs. Wonderful and I have had the conversation about this before -- though she is so, so close to being a mom in every sense of the word!  I find it odd when people tell me "You're still a mom", No, no I'm not. But I smile and nod, because I understand that what they are saying is who THEY view my situation, and I allow others to live out their perception. It doesn't make me feel any better to correct a person, so I don't bother.

Then there is the "When are you having kids" or (my favorite) "Why don't you have kids?" Ouch. You know what? I usually tell the person asking. "As soon as possible" and/or "We lost one at about 20 weeks this year" (soon to be last year....). I know that I have mentioned before, I really like talking about Blue Sunday. I like opening the lines of communication on baby loss, special needs and terminating for medical reasons. I know not everyone shares this. If it is too personal to answer (or you just don't feel like it) it is far less rude to give some humorous answer that closes the door than to tell them to "Mind your own business and pass the potatoes"- Gesture to a kid misbehaving and say "Lion tamer isn't in the cards yet" or something else silly. Really, if they are asking you're related (and so they care) or you hardly know each other and they are filling space.  There isn't a verbal adult person who hasn't offended someone with a simple, well-intentioned question. I personally am always one step behind the gossip mill and keep asking people how ex-significant others are. I mean well, really I do. So do they.

But can't you just pretend to be nice,
Can you at least pretend to be nice,
If you could just pretend to be nice,
Then everything in my life would be alright

Josie and the Pussycats, Pretend to be Nice

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