To all my childless friends, thank you for being true to yourself. Thank you for being auntie to my kids. Thank you for reaching out and taking me to lunch or to tea so I can remember what it’s like to just be with women. Thank you for not judging me and my decision to have children. Thank you.
And to my friends who are currently childless but not by choice, thank you for your bravery. Thank you for trying and hoping and praying and accepting and grieving and through it all, still loving. Thank you for going through a fertility journey that I cannot fathom. Thank you for adopting. Thank you for waiting until you’ve met a partner that wants to go on the journey of parenthood with you, or not! Most of all, thank you for being my friend, even when it’s hard or you’re envious of what might seem like my “perfect” and “easy” life.
And to my single parent friends, thank you for reminding me how easy my life actually is, even when I feel like I couldn’t possibly cuddle, hold, or bathe another body, let alone fix another sandwich. Thank you for being Super Woman or Superman. Thank you for still texting and calling, even though I have absolutely no idea how incredibly busy your life is. And thank you for sharing your humanity with me. I am humbled and honored to know you.
And to all the dads out there, thank you. Thank you for being involved in your child’s life. Thank you for stepping up and providing for your kids financially. Thank you for every time you’ve roughhoused or run, or played a game. Thank you for teaching your son how to be a strong and vulnerable man. Thank you for protecting your daughters. Thank you for every single tear and every frustrated roar. Thank you for being you.
And to my friends who feed formula, use disposable diapers, have a house filled with plastic contraptions for your baby, or send your kids to daycare, I’m sorry. I’ve judged you and thought I was right. I’ve tried to urge you toward my own beliefs or practices. And now that I have a second child, I get it. Now that I’m working outside the home and juggling two kids, I understand that I was speaking from a place of ease and privilege. And I’m sorry.
Now I’m not saying that I won’t judge you again, or that I don’t hold on to some of my beliefs more strongly than others. But if that judgment or urging has hurt you or driven you away, I’m sincerely sorry for that. And just so you know, I am using disposables with my second child. There, I’ve admitted it. Please don’t bite my head off.
Yes it’s MUCH more expensive and… it takes less time. And right now as I juggle multiple jobs, motherhood, and starting a Montessori charter school, I need every second I can squeeze out of my day. I will pay extra for disposables that are plant based, because I can’t put a diaper on my child without knowing what’s inside it. But if you use a major brand of disposable diapers, I get it. You do what you can. It’s not worth fighting over. Let’s celebrate one another instead of judging so much.
What I most want is a world where our diversity is celebrated, rather than divisive. I want a world where we can all support one another, even when we disagree. No, I wouldn’t circumcise my child, and I do believe it’s a child’s right to choose whether he wants to be circumcised. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be your friend, just because you chose differently than I did.
Instead of making each other wrong, or thinking that everyone should choose the exact same life we’ve chosen, let’s appreciate each person’s individuality. Everyone has a path to walk, and we can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s reality. So instead of getting irate, let’s get compassionate. Instead of rolling our eyes and thinking, “How could they do that?!” let’s take a deep breath and remember, I would probably have chosen the same thing if I were in their shoes.
There’s one more group of people that I desperately want to acknowledge here. To the people of color in my world, I have no words. I’m sad and ashamed at how you’ve been treated throughout history, and especially how you’re still treated in “modern” society. I’m sorry that you can’t walk down the street safely or feel safe when a police officer approaches you. I’m sorry that people in stores watch to make sure you’re not stealing, even though I have probably shoplifted far more than you have (yes, I was young and dumb and I got away with it).
I want you to know that I appreciate your strength, but I wish you didn’t have to be so strong. I am so proud that we have our first black president, but so sad that it won’t erase racism in our country. When I look at you, I marvel at how absolutely beautiful your dark skin is and wish I had more people of color in my inner circle. I wish my daughter had more diversity in her classroom. I wish you could have the privilege that I have been born with and have taken for granted for my whole life. Mostly, I want to say thank you for existing and for fighting and loving and living despite all the hardships great and small that have befallen you. You are my hero.
All this is to say, I’m feeling especially grateful for all the amazing people in my life. You make my life so rich and beautiful. I don’t know what I’d do without you, but luckily, I don’t have to! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Love, Shelly
PS If you haven’t yet, go check out my friend Heather’s newest free offering of awesome online classes and speakers here.
PPS I also recently recorded a new free class with Heather that airs on this Friday! You can find it here.