Last night, a bit of a tiff erupted on one of my social media posts. I had shared an article about how motherhood is lonely, and how we no longer have the proverbial village that we once enjoyed the benefits of in previous generations.
Someone commented stating that this perspective was bullshit. That all you had to do was get out. Find a sitter. Visit with friends who had kids. Get family involved. That opened the floodgate of comments from other women. Angry women.
I could see her point of view, as limited as it was. But then, I also knew her better than everyone whose ire she had provoked. She backtracked later and said she meant we need to bring the concept of the village back. That as a community we need to change the narrative of what motherhood has become.
But in the aftermath of her original “bullshit” comment, I also felt angry. It felt like a callous disregard, a casual brushing aside of an experience that wasn’t the same as hers.
What she didn’t understand was that her experience of motherhood was drastically different to that of many. She still lives in the area of town she grew up in; she lives within visiting distance of both parents, and her sibling; she still has many of the same friends she had from her school days, and a very close circle of friends that she’s known long enough to trust with her children; both her and her husband also work from home.
And therein lies the privilege. The reality for a lot of people was ignored in that simple comment.
The reality that for some they now live in a different town, or country, or continent from the one they called home as a child.
The reality that one or both parents are deceased, or elderly, or in a home, or estranged. Or maybe there is a history of abuse in the family and the idea of leaving children with them is not an option.
Maybe they’re an only child and their parents are dead.
Maybe, like many adults, they find it hard to make friends. Maybe they suffer from anxiety or another mental health challenge that makes meeting people and connecting difficult.
Maybe they’re a single parent, working two jobs and the idea of shelling out $75 for a sitter before they even go out is unfathomable.
Maybe they’re a working mom, and the entire concept of a social life is lost after daycare bills are paid.
My point is there are so many variables to how a person’s life unfolds. Everyone has a different perspective, a different experience, a different existence. And it’s not just moms or parents.
It’s college students. The ones who come from rich families and have everything paid for. The ones who are working multiple jobs to pay for school. The ones battling social anxiety in an effort to get to class every day.
It’s kids. The ones who are afraid to speak up in class for fear of being made fun of. The ones who don’t want engage in class because their parents are in the middle of a divorce.
It’s men. The ones who are being abused by their partner but don’t open up about it because of traditional gender roles and expectations surrounding them. The ones who are lonely but can’t say.
You don’t have to be male, white, rich, thin, or cis-gendered to have privilege.
Each of us has privilege in some way or form over someone else around us. It could be in our job, our way of life, our family, our level of education, our circle of friends, our personalities.
It could be in how easily we connect with others, or in the many different ways in which we are able to help others.
My point is it’s incumbent upon ALL of us to stop and check ourselves. We may not even be aware of the privilege we are blessed with. So never, ever dismiss the experiences of any other human being as invalid.
Engage with empathy. Listen with compassion. Act with kindness. Speak with the intent to understand.
And above all, remember that each of us goes through life with a different perspective. And just because your experience isn’t the same as mine, doesn’t make it wrong. It doesn’t make it invalid. It doesn’t make it bullshit.
It just makes it different.