I started this post as kind of a vent about something that bothers me very much. But then I had a revelation, a brilliant gift from my brain to my heart and it’s helped me reframe the way I interpret that very bothersome thing.
Here’s the vent part:
I rarely use the word “hate.” I tend to go for the understatement-to-prove-a-point option of “do not enjoy.” With the proper placement of punctuation you can really drive it home. “I do NOT. Enjoy. Rachael Ray. One. Bit.” And, since I rarely use “hate,” reserving it for things I really, seriously can’t stand makes my point quite nicely.
I hate static shock. (Nothing lets loose the expletives like seeing the spark jump from the light switch to my fingertip. Nothing.)
I hate being tickled. (The only thing that makes me violent. I’ll punch. I’ll kick. I’ll draw blood. And I won’t be sorry.)
I hate opening packaging. (It’s just hummus. Why is it so goddamned hard to get into a tub of hummus? )
And I hate when people say, “Just wait.”
Man, that one really irks my liver. When I was newly pregnant, it was “Just wait til you’re nine months. You’ve never been so uncomfortable.” When I was nine months pregnant it was, “Just wait ’til he’s here. Better get your sleep now.” When he was born it was, “You think you get no sleep now? Just wait ’til he’s teething.” It is an endless pattern and NO ONE seems to understand how infuriating it is. It’s just the most unhelpful thing in the world especially if it’s response to being upset. Telling me to “just wait” for something worse that’s coming down the pike not only doesn’t help me feel better now, but it completely dismisses my present feelings as insignificant, AND paints an even darker picture about what’s to come. It’s also terribly condescending and assumptive. Every kid and every parent is different so what makes you so goddamn sure that my experience will be just like yours? Not to mention the very simple fact that I don’t need a reminder to wait for the future. WE ARE ALL JUST WAITING FOR THE FUTURE! That state of being is called the present. Why the hell do people do this?!
Then came the revelation:
When two different beloved family members gave me the “Just wait, you’ll see, you’ll feel differently” recently, I was flooded with white hot anger so quickly, it scared me. I wanted to scream, “But I’m not writing about how I’ll feel in the future, I’m documenting my present, the here and now, and THIS is how I feel right here, right now. DON’T DISMISS ME!”
But then I actually started to think about why people do this….
What are they really saying? I have lovely friends and family who support me and root for me and want me to be happy and successful. And still, they say it. So it mustn’t come from a place of hostility. Maybe it comes from a place of reminiscence.
My present is their past. Maybe they’re not commenting on my present. Maybe they’re reminiscing about their own past. It’s been a long time since they had a six month old baby. Maybe it’s hard for them to take my difficulties seriously because the soothing salve of perspective and time has worked its magic and healed their wounds from Battlefield Baby. Maybe advice, unsolicited advice in particular, is really just nostalgia. Maybe when they say “Just wait,” what they are really saying is, “I miss my baby.”
LIGHTBULB! Now I have the framework to transform something that makes me very angry into an opportunity to let someone I love (or like, or tolerate, or am standing next to in the produce section) tell me something about themselves.
So when my boy starts to crawl and someone inevitably says to me, “Just wait ’til he’s walking,” I hope I don’t get angry. I hope I can give them the gift of talking about their journey instead of feeling like I have to defend mine. I’m going to ask, “When did your child start to walk? Tell me about your experience.”
And then, if I ever get this fucking thing open, I’m gonna have some hummus.