I have a pet peeve. Actually, I have several…but today I’m going to bring up just one. Yesterday, in my social networking feed a post…or maybe it was an article…came through basically talking about this poor woman who’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. As you guys know from prior posts…cancer once again, recently hit my family. We lost a family member. I am completely sympathetic to this woman and her battle.
What set me off? The post read something like this “poor woman just had a baby, then was diagnosed with breast cancer…how tragic.” Really? Having a child is what makes this tragic? Because what that statement intimated to me was that if you don’t have children, then cancer isn’t nearly as tragic or devastating to you. Let me count the ways that this rubbed me wrong. First, I have a friend who developed bladder cancer as a small child. Treatments included issues with bodily function control..and did permanent damage to her reproductive organs, guaranteeing she will never have a child biologically speaking. And she still has health issues…not to mention is devastated every time she hears about someone else having a child…not because she begrudges them the joy. She doesn’t. She just wishes she could experience those joys for herself.
Another friend was unlucky enough to have inherited the BRCA gene which gives her an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and/or uterine cancer. This means that she is in the process of removing everything that makes her female as a preventative measure. Her sister also has this gene….but has children. So somehow this is so much more tragic for her sister. Really? This may sound a tad insensitive, but at least should something happen, her sister has a legacy she’ll be able to leave behind…not that you ever WANT to leave them behind.
I have another friend who had breast cancer, fought it, beat it…then developed uterine issues that concerned her oncologist enough to recommend a complete hysterectomy. Immediately. She’d been a career woman up to this point, not in any rush to have children…thinking she’d have time to find the right man first. The opportunity taken. By cancer.
And then there are the men…who also can be diagnosed and die of cancer…do they get less sympathy or empathy simply because they’re not able to give birth?
Ya’ll get the point. The thing is, I doubt that this is how the person posting meant to come across…but words are like that.
Unfortunately this isn’t the only time I’ve seen red over people with/without children. Please, don’t misunderstand… I LOVE kids. I adore great parents. I think it’s the best gift you could give both to your child and the world. (I was blessed with an amazing mom who is still my role model…no comment on dad.)
So you can imagine my shock and anger when on a conversation over the phone with a fairly new friend he tells me, “You will never truly understand or appreciate God’s love or grace until I have a child.” Really? Now most of you have already caught on to the fact that I’m a pretty controlled person…to a fault.
On that day my facade cracked. I believe my first (and most honest) response went something like this. “That’s asinine. Did you just hear what you said? Are you stupid?” And believe it or not, his comment hurt me so much that I was in tears. Because I understand only too well what a sinner I am…and I have read the Medical Description Of His Crucifiction. That kind of love outdoes even the sacrifices my mom made for me. I did not have to produce offspring to know or understand.
Honestly, that was also the beginning of the end to our friendship. Because as he explained his point of view, he just dug a deeper hole for himself, disqualifying everything because he was a parent. Because children make every person suddenly a good parent, right? (Infuse sarcasm here).
This also calls to mind a horrifically tragic situation that happened one day when I was working in the emergency. A family brought their 18 month old into the emergency room for lethargy and failure to thrive. They had no sooner got him into the back when he went into respiratory distress. The nurses lined up and took turns performing CPR, hoping to stabilize him while they did tests. It turned out he had a large tumor in his brain. His family was fundamentalist and didn’t believe in modern medicine except in emergent situations, so he hadn’t had any tests or doctors visits prior to this one. Unfortunately, the little guy didn’t make it.
As I sat there, hurting for this family…not wishing that kind of loss on anyone, I heard a family member say, “at least you have the other kids.” Like that negates the loss or care or heartache somehow? All I could think in my head was “Shut UP!” What kind of comfort was that?
See what I mean? Words! Whether intentional or not…they can have seriously damaging effects! Choosing them wisely can sometimes be the biggest gift you can give a person. They can also be the reason for ending things. I’ve occasionally been the person to choose words unwisely, but I try to be careful. I try to consider how my words might impact the people I love. But, I’m not perfect.
What statements or words have you heard that have set you off? Or cut you to the quick? What are your pet peeves?