As I watched (and stayed out of) the conversations on several birthing communities yesterday about The Duggars, I came to the realization that nothing will ever be perfect for everyone. It’s impossible. And that’s okay. But I also realized that we are an incredibly judgmental people even when we claim to be open minded.
You may well be open minded about some things. You may stray from the beaten path over things you feel make you totally progressive, but we all still have our hang ups. We still judge when we face something we cannot wrap our brains around. We still get up in arms when we don’t understand someone else’s choices.
When I originally learned about The Duggars, I was shocked. Dare I say it, a little bit disgusted. Yes, disgusted. I thought about overpopulation, their carbon footprint, why have that many children, what is she doing to her body, how do the kids cope with all that chaos, how can they possibly give each child what he or she needs, how are they helping them each grow individually, WHY would they choose this???? I had so many questions. I had zero answers. And I had zero understanding.
Typically when I don’t understand someone’s choices, if it is not harming anyone, I try to accept it. With The Duggars constantly in the media though, I could not just accept and move on. They were there all the time, flaunting their giant family, showing off their perfect children, announcing yet another pregnancy and I became annoyed.
Then they became pregnant with #19, Josie. This pregnancy Michelle became pre-eclamptic with, the innocent baby was born at 25 weeks, the family spent months in the NICU with Josie, praying over her and hoping she’d survive.
They had to be done now. Right? Her body was clearly saying it was done. God was obviously showing her she needed to stop. He was telling them both it was time to move forward in life, focus on their 19 children, and enjoy watching them grow and have their own families. Surely after such a traumatic time and obviously very blessed, they would finally stop having children.
And then they didn’t. Yesterday they announced the pregnancy of what will be their 20th child. Mothers everywhere went crazy.
For the first time, I didn’t join in on the conversation. How could I? Instead of pointing fingers and being outraged over someone else’s choices and life, I instead looked at my own. I thought about what it feels like when I tell people we are expecting our 5th child. How it felt when we were expecting our 4th. We were really, really excited, but our excitement was met with silence and eyes to the floor when we spilled the news. It hurt. Even perfect strangers reactions hurt. It hurts a little now looking back.
We see on television and in movies everyone is always overjoyed at the announcement of a pregnancy, a baby, a new life. How wonderful! Everybody is so happy. They smile from ear to ear, gasp with joyful surprise and yelp with excitement. Their eyes light up.
I’ve never gotten a truly joyful reaction to one of my pregnancies. Ever. I’ve always gotten sad eyes, pursed lips, silence, and disappointment. And it always felt like I wasn’t allowed to be happy because everyone else was so down about it. I know why. Our happy surprises were also always met with bad timing. We never had a pregnancy when things were settled. With The Twins we were teenagers and homeless. With The Monkey, my husband had just made a huge job transition and things were very uncertain for us. With Doodle, we were still dealing with the uncertainty of that transition. And this time, well..I guess this being baby #5 is reason enough for people to dislike it.
I know what it’s like to be judged. I know how shitty it feels to experience others upset for my choices. I know what it feels like to have someone I love glare at me and say rude things for doing something they don’t agree with.
I bet you do too. Please remember that the next time you want to jump on someone for their decisions and their life. Remember the hurt and shock of people judging you for living your life the way you feel is best. We all share so much in common, but we will never be the same. I think that is a beautiful part of God’s amazing creation and we are lesser for questioning it, judging it, and fearing it.
I have had some of the best conversations with people whose perspective is the complete opposite of mine. When I allow myself to accept and wonder about their choices, I open myself up to an entirely new way of thinking. Often times, this does not change my personal preference on the subject, but it is so magnificent to look a person in the eye who I disagree with and know we somehow understand and respect one another despite our differences.
We can all have this about all subjects, but we have to be open to it. You do not lose part of yourself by letting other opinions and thoughts in. In fact, I believe over the years doing this has only strengthened my resolve in some of my beliefs and made me more interested in learning further about other thoughts and ideas that I have. It has only been a good thing.
Let us embrace our differences, enjoy our uniqueness, and love one another regardless of what we believe is best for our own lives. We may not always understand another’s decision, but we can do ourselves, our friends, and even perfect strangers a favor by accepting that it’s not our choice to make.