A little while ago I was sitting round a relative’s house, it was a lovely afternoon surround by family, having a chat and watching two toddlers play. They were adorable, chasing each other around and laughing, the youngest was just learning to walk, a little unsteady on his feet, toddling after the slightly older boy. They disappeared into a bedroom for a little while, quietly causing mischief, happily enjoying each other’s company.
A tiny bit of trouble did arise, as I’m sure will always happen when a nearly 2-year-old and a 3 year play, the elder didn’t want to share his favourite toy with the younger boy, he went and had a little sulk with his nan and tried to hide his toy, this caused the other boy to grow frustrated. I found this slightly funny and very cute, as what 3-year-old is practically good at sharing? And what 2-year-old is very good at not getting his own way? Nothing really escalated apart from a narrowly avoided tantrum.
I smiled a ‘kids eh?’ type of smile with one relation and had chuckle, then to my compete shock I was hit with a sledge hammer right to the face, taken completely off guard with the shear brutality of the words that came out of another relatives mouth.
‘Ah, I bet you’re glad you don’t have to put up with this, Tasha. Lucky really, that you don’t have children.’
Now for clarity, this relative knows I cannot have children, knows we tried for 5 years, were at the hospital and went through IVF etc. None of the other family members made any comment or reaction to the sentence, I’m not sure if they even registered what was said or if they just thought it was okay but they just carried on like normal, the slight awkwardness of the boys’ sour interaction was dispelled by hiding the toy.
But I was hurt by the passing comment that my family didn’t even seem to notice. I froze for a second then blinked and continued to watch the boys interact and listen to the conversation continue around me in a kind of shocked bewilderment.
I made no reaction, maybe that’s a mistake, maybe I should’ve shown my hurt, explained how insensitive that was, the boys hadn’t even done anything of great note. It wasn’t like there was a massive tantrum, tears and screaming, we were just watching two children play and struggle with the concept of sharing. How does this make me lucky? I’m lucky I don’t have children of my own to watch play? To join in the conversation with anecdotes of my own child?
Why injure me with such hurtful words that had no bearing in the conversation? I don’t understand, was it just to remind me I don’t have children? Thanks, but I don’t need any help in that department, I wake each morning my heart heavy with that knowledge.
Maybe my silence sentences me to comments like this?
Maybe they don’t know my hurt because I stay silent about my barren state?
Maybe to them it’s just like saying, you’re lucky your hair is naturally straight, Tasha.
Maybe because they have no concept of it, all being some form of mothers themselves, an expected mother, a mother, a grandmother and a great grandmother. Sometimes I find it hard enough to be in a room like this, they all have something I will never experience.
Lesson of the day: Sensitivity.
I am always carefully what I say, I try not to speak without thinking because I do not wish to wound others as I was wounded that day.
The importance of sensitivity is what I took from that house, that and another emotional scar to add to the collection.