You Know What’s Best For You
Sometime in January of this year, my fiancé and I learned that we were expecting.
Again. We have two children already — a 9-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son — and we are expecting baby number three (another little boy) in June. Our friends and family have been amazing, and we have gotten a great deal of support and love from everyone around us.
But, as usual, there’s always going to be those select few people – usually strangers who know little to nothing about my life or where I come from and who I am – who want to tell me how to live my life and insist on telling me that I’m living my life wrong.
As I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant and I typically wear a short-sleeve shirt to work, it is evident that I’m pregnant; it’s really hard to hide my son’s existence. So I’ve come to expect comments, and I’ve generally figured out how to field them — how to appreciate and approve (for lack of a better word) the positive comments and how to politely decline and turn the conversation away from more negative comments. However, I don’t think I will ever be mentally prepared to field people’s ignorant comments about how I’m living my life the wrong way and how I should make sure my priorities are more in order than they currently are.
An older woman on one of my tours a few weekends back struck up a conversation about my pregnancy and about my romantic and family life, as well as my academic life. I told her that I was engaged, had two other children, and was a full-time graduate student, to which she responded: “Oh honey. You’re living your life all wrong.”
And that was it. That was the end of the conversation. Despite her being several years my senior, I politely told her that I didn’t appreciate the comment. I smiled, and I continued up the stairs and into the gift shop. I stayed in the back of the gift shop until I watched the couple leave; I only wanted to avoid other interactions and comments like the one she’d already made.
All I could think was why? Why do people insist on making comments like that, particularly when they’re talking to people they don’t know?
Why do people assume that they know what is best for me and my family? Just because I’m [relatively] young — I’m 26 — doesn’t mean that I don’t have a plan for my life. It doesn’t mean that my fiancé and I haven’t had lengthy discussions about what we want to do with our futures and what we want for our family. Just because I’m doing things “differently” or “nontraditionally” doesn’t mean that I’m “living my life all wrong.” It means I’m taking life in stride and I’m handling the things that come my way in life to the best of my ability.
I know that I’m not the only parent to encounter people like this. I’ve talked to friends who have dealt with the same things, and they can’t seem to understand the phenomena either. We seem to generally agree that if someone has questions about how I’m handling things or what my plans are, I am more than willing to answer them. I am an open book (usually) and I enjoy talking about my family.
It doesn’t matter in what order you choose to experience the milestones of life — marriage, children, career, school, etc. — you know what is best for you. There are always going to be people who don’t understand and who want to tell you what you’re doing is wrong.
I’ve learned over the last 10 years of being a mother that listening to what they have to say usually isn’t worth the stress. Again, you know what is best for you, and that’s what matters. Surround yourself with positivity and try your best to just brush off the negativity.