Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One comment: Two days.

Ever have one comment destroy your week? This is about the comment that ruined two days of my last week. It took me a good 4 hours to realize that this was the cause of my bad mood.

Last week, we attended a pre-deployment brief together. It was essentially an hour long lecture in which most wives create honey-do lists. Honey: I need a will, a POA, and a new credit card. I need access to your bank account, access to your myPay, and we need to get the oil changed. It focuses on preparing the service-member and family members for preventative measures should an issue arise while your spouse is at sea. Credit card stolen? "Well, mame, your name is not on this account so I cannot help you." It prevents conversations like that.

There was a presentation from a TriCare (military health care) representative. One of the major health situations that could occur while your spouse is away is the birth of a child. Or prenatal visits. I was immediately spun in to an awful mood when the presenter made these comments:

"While VFA-200 was deployed, there were 14 babies - let's see if you can beat that!"

......(this is me getting steamed-up angry)

Let's address the general problems I find in the statement before addressing the personal problems I perceive in this statement.

First of all, let us not make having children a competition. There are too many people who have too many children. Trust me, I've met them. So many children that they cannot care for them properly. I've seen them in waiting rooms and even in my classroom. (And for some families, the number of "too many" could be two. I'm not saying that having four children is irresponsible. Maybe seven. The Duggars (TLC's 19 Kids and Counting) are irresponsible in my opinion, however, they do manage to provide for their children.)

Secondly, this statement makes having children sound like it is as easy as making scrambled eggs: Whisk and pour. It is not that easy. There are plenty, hundreds, thousands, of people want children so badly and cannot have them. There are plenty of people wanting children right now. 

To make a statement like that implies that those people who want children but are not having them are doing something wrong or have failed in some way. Guess what I didn't do any thing wrong - I had a baby and he was still taken from me. Where do I fall in your little count, Madame? Would you have counted me in your "14 babies"?

Lastly, it is a thoughtless statement. It angers me. I want to be one of your stupid statistics, Madame Speaker.  I want to have been one of your "babies." Don't you think I'm trying?

But not all people can have babies and keep them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Worth it.

Sometimes children say the darndest things. Sometimes children are so much wiser than their tender age.

I began working at a local elementary school about two months ago. I mainly interact with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. It's interesting to see what a seven-year old's world view is, what their concept of reality is. I have had many children ask: how old are you? are you married? do you have any kids?

The first two are easy. I don't mind sharing my age with seven and eight year olds - they have no concept of age and think 26 is old anyway. They are probably beginning to to place age and roles in boxes (ie -at 15 you are in high school, at 25 you are married with children). A good number of the children will respond, "My mom is 26,  and she has thee kids." Good for her, kiddo, go for her... That's usually how I respond, too, "Well, that's cool."

About two weeks ago I had this same conversation with a first grader. And for some reason I just decided to tell her. I was interested to see how a seven year old would process the information. Here is how our conversation went:

"Ms. Wiggly, do you have a husband?"
"Do you have any kids?"
"... Well, I had a baby, but he died."
"Why?" (Duh, should have seen that coming..)
"Well, because he's waiting for me in heaven now."
"How big of a baby was he?"
"Just a tiny baby."
"That happened to my brother. My older brother died when he was just a tiny baby. He's waiting for me in heaven, too."

Gosh, it just made my day - my week - for several reasons.

1) She didn't cry.

2) She processed it well.

3) Something like this had happened to her family.

4) Most importantly, something like this had happened in her family before she was born and her parents made a conscious decision to tell their later daughter about her big brother.

5) She called him "my big brother." I love that she referred to him as a member of her family.

It was so refreshing to have told a student. Not that she remembered ten minutes later, but still. I had shared with a student and it hadn't backfired. If you'll recall, I have had some issues sharing about Noah with the wrong people in the past. She had not only taken it well, but had a story to share with me. It made me feel a little bit more normal, and it gave me hope. A tragedy had happened to her family, and while I do not know the details, her family (probably) grieved, still grieves, and continued to believe in having a family.

Because when it comes down to it, it's worth it: the terror of losing another child is worth it for the gain of having a child. Children are worth it.