Recently I was having coffee with a group of friends and the topic of having more children came up as it sometimes does with a group of moms. This lead to a very contentious almost argumentative exchange. Here is what happened:
One mom (we will call her Jane) started to say that she would love to have more kids but she has a very small support system and really doesn’t think she or her husband could handle it emotionally.
Another mom (we will call her Tara) responded that she too has a small support system but if you love having children you should be able to figure it out.
Jane then tried to explain that she too loves having kids but, “you don’t understand what it is like to be the sole support for everything”. Even something simple like a girls night out takes a lot of planning at her home and she is frankly exhausted physically and emotionally.
Tara responded with an eye roll and explained that everything is on her shoulders too, but maybe if Jane was more organized (like herself) she wouldn’t feel so “overwhelmed” by having children.
Before you make a judgment call here is some background:
Let’s start with Jane. Jane and her husband are from Ohio and both went to college in MA. After school they found jobs in Mass and decided to stay. All of their extended family is a good distance away from their current home, not that they have a large extended family. Jane’s parents both passed away suddenly shortly after they graduated college. She has a couple uncles who live in one of the southern states that she hardly ever sees. They visit maybe once a year. Jane has no cousins and her grandparents are also deceased. Her husband (we shall call him Dick ;) – get it Dick and Jane.. maybe I’m dating myself with that.. ) Dick’s father died when they were in college, and his mother isn’t very involved in their life. Dick has aunts, uncles and cousins, that they see around the holidays but their relationship with Dick, Jane, and the Kids is more peripheral as well. Jane has told us how sometimes cry’s when she fills out the emergency contact sheets for the kids because they don’t really have emergency contacts..with the exception of a couple friends and she feels bad to put that burden on people who are not family..
Tara on the other hand was born and raised in MA. She is an only child and her parents, who are retired, live around 45 minutes away. Tara’s parents see the kids at least once a week sometimes more. They love to babysit, take the kids to events, and they have attended every sporting or other event the kids have had since infancy. Her parents are.. quirky. Her mom was a teacher and can be controlling and a little pushy (all with good intentions). Her dad is low key and helpful but kind of tough on her husband; though they have a good relationship. They can been pretty annoying sometimes but again they have really good intentions. Tara has a large extended family that she sees primarily at holidays and special occasions. Her husband- we will call him Don- has a sister who lives a couple hours away but visits at least once a quarter. Don’s Dad is deceased as well, and he doesn’t have a very large extended family. His mom is very judging and hard to get along with. She sees them often but isn’t very involved. She’s the type of mother in-law that comes around to tell you what you are doing wrong and how you are damaging your kids.
Both ladies have challenges.
Tara has to make sure her parents don’t drive her husband and her self crazy, while deflecting the constant attacks from her mother-law. She does all the planning for the kids etc. She is the one right in the middle and keeps everything in her home running smoothly. An exhausting job indeed!
My heart breaks for Jane. I cannot imagine how isolated she must feel. I cant imagine what it must be like to have no one to rely on. To never witness the beautiful bond between a child and a grandparent. To never be able to call your mom and ask advise. Simple things allude her.. Sunday dinners with the whole family. Emergency contacts that are family instead of people you met 5 years ago. Exhausting and emotional
However, I think the winner of the most difficult situation is Jane.. but that’s just me.
The point of this post is not to figure out who has the most difficult situation. The point is I am confused about some things:
First, whenever stuff like this comes up No one ever seems to feel bad for Jane. Huh? Maybe it’s just too emotional for most people to deal with but she is met with a lot of, “oh, that’s sad.. Anyway”
People with fairly stable and nice situations like Tara seem to want credit for having challenges from people like Jane. Everyone has challenges. It wouldn’t be real life if you didn’t have challenges, so why does it seem like most people want their lives to be the most challenging? It’s not like you get a reward!
Also the people who have minor challenges but have an overall good situation seem to receive the most sympathy. Like the situation above Tara seems to receive the most of support from friends and outsiders.. What is that about ?
I just don’t do get it. What do you think?