Disclaimer: Due to the sensitive nature of the following article, some readers may find the subject matter offensive. Or funny. Choose funny.
Top 10 lists are big. We are a nation obsessed with the number 10. I blame Bo Derek. Top 10 lists of things NOT to say are even bigger. Those, along with the ever-expanding list of banned words, are starting to feel somewhat oppressive. Yesterday, somebody advised me that the word “normal” was offensive to them. The context?
I said I didn’t feel normal without a pot of coffee a day.
I am surprised the ACLU didn’t show up at my door.
I am also surprised human beings bother talking to each other at all based on the language landmines that have befallen society. Nobody is willing to address serious topics honestly because, heaven forbid, someone trips on a banned thought, word, or opinion.
Over the last several years, I have also noticed a trend in how parents expect the world to accommodate them, their children, and their entire breadth of complex emotional needs. Parents of shy children write top 10 lists on why adults should never make eye contact or say hello to any kid they don’t know.
Ok, then. No saying hi to kids. Got it.
But then there is the top 10 list from parents who have kids who want to feel included. They encourage adults to stop by, talk to their kids, and express interest in whatever unique situation has left them feeling isolated.
Crap. Now what?
There are top 10 lists from parents who want the world to be aware or unaware of significant challenges in their lives. We are instructed to act normal. Or not. Or ask questions. Or don’t ever mention it. Stop by and help out. Or don’t assume there is an open door policy. Call first. Don’t call. But whatever happens….
DON’T SAY THE WRONG THING.
And when protocol is missed?
Why, just read the articles of people affronted by earnest citizens trying to make conversation. Typically the object of ire is the clumsy sort, operating in a perplexing world of mixed messages and easily offended people. We’ll call our heroine “Molly.” Molly is a ne’er-do-well who isn’t a member of the vast social media network who receives top 10 lists hourly. So perhaps Molly sees another mom at the park one day with her toddler and figures it’s safe to ask about other kids.
Little does Molly know, she has just offended a mighty, multi-national conglomerate mom with a solitary focus on secondary infertility with a minor in shaming all those who do not understand its emotional toll. She will spend the better part of the next month ridiculing lonely Molly… who simply wanted a friend. Supporters suggest terrible things should happen to Molly. Stuff gets ugly.
The saddest part? We actually have a lot to learn from moms experiencing secondary infertility. This is where a simple story goes so much further in enlightening and educating the Mollys of the world. Anger and rage might stir the masses already supportive to the cause, but they chase away everyone else faster than you can say, “I am sorry.”
I am a Molly.
I want to hear the stories of many moms. I want to be compassionate to their challenges and causes. I want conversation to flow unabated without that ultimate killer of dialogue:
“I find that offensive.”
Let’s just ante up and get offended off the table. Yanni offends me. People who threaten violence offend me. The word “phlegm” offends me.
But I will talk to you. Even if you are secretly Yanni. And I guarantee to be offensive because my verbal filter fell off decades ago.
We moms have much work before us. We strive to make a difference in the lives of our children, our community, and the world at large. Getting offended takes up way too much time and energy. To quote a lady I admire for calling it like she sees it:
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Now let’s go swear and spit while saving the world.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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