Last week I did something I don’t do very often. I left a comment on an article on Facebook. It was an article about things a woman wished she had shut up about with pregnancy. It was an article about how pregnancy was the easy part and raising a truly self-centered ego maniacal little person was just hell on earth. At least, that’s how I saw it. I read comment after comment from moms laughing because it was all so true. For me it was a breaking point. I am a researcher. I don’t do something big without looking into it. I’ve been reading parenting sites and blogs for months now. I got the feeling that moms wrote these pieces more as a place to vent and scream about how awful it was to be a mom sometimes. Rarely was I or am seeing pieces about how great it is to be a mom.
The comment I left was to that tune. That I was pregnant with my first and that it’s disheartening to see these articles. I felt like mothers were trying to talk me out of being a mother. For the most part I got a TON of responses about yes it’s hard, every day it’s hard, but the return is so amazing you forget about the hard stuff. Or I got a few from other preggos who felt the same way. Then I got the response I had expected from the beginning. “I have four children and am pregnant with the fifth. You just don’t understand because you are only pregnant. You don’t have children yet so you can’t fully understand. You don’t get it. Talk to me again in six months. You’ll feel differently.”
You don’t get it. I have hated this phrase for most of my adulthood. Four words that pack a jaw cracking punch. I understand the basic fundamental principle behind it. If you haven’t gone through an event or an experience yet you can’t fully comprehend what that event or experience is. But let’s not be dicks about it. We all go through a million different experiences in a lifetime. For a lot of us we touch upon every facet of the human experience in some way. To say that I can’t have a certain feeling about something because I haven’t experienced it the way you have is rude and cuts me off at the knees. Come back though, I’ll bite at your ankles.
I heard, “You don’t get it” so many times in my life for things I didn’t have yet. I wasn’t married. I hadn’t graduated college. I didn’t have a dog. I hadn’t suffered human breaking tragedy in my life. So on and so forth. The thing is, I am a human. I have emotions. I have empathy. I comprehend what’s bad and what’s good. And I have eyeballs. We may not always 100% understand what people go through or have gone through because (whether you admit it or not) there will always be someone who has it worse than you do. The worse part is even when you’ve gone through one check point someone points out that there are ten more ahead of you. I also got responses of, “It sounds like you better stick to one. Two is worse!” and, “Wait until you have two or more. Then you won’t be able to function.” So let me get this straight. Once I do get into the mommy club I still don’t get things because I’ll only have one child? How many do I have to have before I fully get what it means to be a mom?
In our society today we overshare. I am very much guilty of it. I post pictures of silly things. I update my status. I have all the venues of social media. I write a blog about my personal life. I’ve really started to see what the oversharing has done to us humans. We share things in our lives that we want others to see. We hide or stuff down the things we don’t want people to see. The unfortunate side of that is, the other people then think they know everything about you. They give advice that may seem beyond their place, they say things that seem funny because they don’t know about what happened five years ago, they judge you because our lives are now about judging. I have gone through so much in my life. True sadness, true loss, true love, true friends, true family, etc. I try to not let everything that has happened affect the way I see myself in ten years. This can be misleading because it may seem as though I’m naive and don’t know much about anything. The women on a mommy blog site don’t see that part of me. In their eyes, I just don’t get it.
So. What do we do when we don’t get it? What do we do when we’re trying to relate to someone who is going through something? To me the answer is pretty simple. Try to understand what you don’t get about them. The screen name you are responding to has a person attached to it. A person who has lived their life up to this point. A person who has had their own experiences. A person. You can also always step away from your own screen and talk (actually talk with vocal cords) to a friend, family, or co-worker. Remind yourself that what you see in front of you is 10% of who that person really is. In a virtual world it’s probably more like 1%. We all meet someone who doesn’t get it. That’s okay, give them a break. Tomorrow you probably won’t get it either.