I just need to spit the words out and go and have a cup of tea. Whilst there are many issues going on in the world which far out-rank this in terms of anger-inducement, my brain has decided to take offense and right now, I'm seeing red.
When I met my husband, he told me that if everyone was like me the world would be at peace. I found it an odd thing to say, but as life has gone on and our worlds have changed and grown I see more and more what he meant. I am far from a perfect person, but I am an advocate of peace, of kindness, of goodwill. I hate gratuitous nastiness.
When I became pregnant with Ollie, it became very apparent to me after a prolonged episode of what can only be described as bullying behaviour, that I was under attack. Under attack from women who, for whatever reason or agenda, saw my pregnancy as a threat, or an issue, or a disturbance.
MY pregnancy, that I barely talked about, barely announced, that I kept as hidden from view as possible for fear of incurring more of this hostility.
I had considered that becoming pregnant might change some of my relationships with women I knew. Leaving work for a year would definitely impact professional dynamics. My friendships would be affected- having a child was going to change me. I'd read funny anecdotes about how women become zombies after childbirth who can only ever talk about their child's bodily functions. I was sure a certain number of my decidedly young, free and single friends might get bored of me.
I'd vowed to try and stay the same in as much a capacity as I could. I'd vowed to continue to make an effort. To take an interest in my friends' lives, to not talk about Ollie non stop (hey what's a blog for?!) and to maintain a professional coolness and likeability at work.
After enduring only five weeks of torment after miscarrying before falling pregnant again with Ollie, I knew, in a very short-lived capacity, the hurt and anguish any women feels who wants a baby and cannot, at present, have one. I'd vowed to be sensitive, to not shove my pregnancy in anyone's face, to NEVER talk about it unless I was directly asked and then once the baby arrived to do the same. You never know anyone's personal struggle. Their journey. What they want. What they can or can't have. What they see when they see you and your bump, and then your baby. What they feel.
So all this, for others.
All this to save them the anguish, jealousy, boredom, sadness, grief, disinterest, repulsion (I'm thinking dirty nappy talk here), or whatever else it was that I felt might upset them, rile them, or just plain alienate me from them.
I did it instinctively. I tried my best.
And yet I endured months of cruel, insensitive and downright horrible remarks at my workplace. I experienced total disinterest in the fact that I was becoming a mother from a number of my oldest childhood friends.
After Ollie was born there was a part of me that was relieved that I was no longer carrying a bump. An outward sign which for some reason meant others could hurt me with their cruelty or contempt.
I barely hear from a number of my old friends now. I didn't get a chance to alienate them, or not, with tales of Ollie's nappy arrangements, they just weren't interested in being my friend after I became a mother. At work, a part time mother of a young toddler, I am bottom of the pile. I fade into the background. Even some members of our family, our generation, aren't interested in seeing us because they "don't do babies" and apparently that is all we are now.
There is a lot to talk about on this topic and it's a complex issue. Motherhood changes you. It changes everything. Others have to adjust, or adapt, or do more in the workplace, apparently, because you're off living it up on maternity leave.
Having a child changes your life.
In my opinion, it makes you a better person. But it does make you a different person.
It just also makes everyone else different too.
And sometimes, it is really shocking.