Sunday, January 29, 2012

What a strange thing to say...

I started a new job this week. Better money, a better fit for my personality I think. I haven't yet met anyone who's to be my work BFF, but that's okay.

Two strange things have happened though....

The first was this:  On Wednesday, my supervisor told me about a meeting for Saturday. I mentioned that I would have to arrange child care and he asked "can't your husband do it?" I don't have a ring on, so I don't know why he assumed I was married. It put me in a place where I had to say "we don't have one of those," and it made me feel all strange, like I had to defend my life decisions to an almost complete stranger. I was most bothered that it bothered me. I need to get past this myself if I'm to make sure my kids know we're normal, that our family is structured is the way it's supposed to be.

The second was this: A co-worker said, "your little boys are too cute!" I said, "one's a girl, but thanks" and's a common enough mistake. Her name is fairly androgynous, and she's not getting her ears pierced and she won't leave bows in her hair. This doesn't bother me much. The co-worker asked how old they are, and I told her "17 months, but they came almost 3 months early, so they act more like 14 months." The co-worker said, "lucky you! you didn't have to carry them all that time." Without skipping a beat, I said, "What a strange thing to say...the babies stayed in the hospital for 9 weeks and one has some ongoing health problems. I'm very lucky that they're alive, but I would give anything to have carried them to term."  This woman is clearly not going to be that work BFF I wanted, and I'll be lucky if she says hello to me on Monday. But seriously! In what world is having 3 pound babies lucky?  I wish I could educate people without biting their heads off, but I cannot. I wish I could have one kind, informative sentence that would open people's eyes to what it's like to have a preemie (or two or more) and make them think twice the next time they encounter a preemie parent. We work in health care, so I hope this co-worker pauses a minute before she says such a thing to a patient.

These are the things that define me now. Being single. Being a parent of two preemies. Two years ago, my summary would have been much different....graduate student, rock n' roll, cowboy boots. Now it's single mama of two, breastfeeding advocate, NICU graduate family. How strange.


  1. Script them and practice in the mirror.

    Those things don't define you, they describe you.


  2. Grandma Becky HainesJanuary 29, 2012 at 11:53 AM

    Oh mama Marion. I wish for you all the happiness you can hold. And then some more. This time has been given to you by the powers that be. (whatever that is) for some reason, your souls journey includes education and demonstration that Love makes a family. Also sweetie, it has been given to you to grow stronger, in spite of the misunderstandings, and downright bigotry of some. But hear me please. I say to you, there are far more people who love and respect you. At your young age, you have overcome obstacles that person at work will never know. I admire your strength, your forage, your children are blessed indeed to have you. And you are blessed indeed to have them. Mama Becky Haines.

  3. I know what you mean. I started a new job in the past year, in the midst of a difficult personal situation, on the verge of separating and divorcing, mama to a infant... it was hard to know how to introduce myself... sometimes I clammed up and other times I said too much. Settling to this identity of mine- single working mama - has taken some time. But I, too, want my daughter to know that we are a family, we are normal, we are and will be OK.

    It takes practice. But the more we get out and about in the world, and settle into our current identities, the easier it will be to know what to say. And by the way, that grad student rockin'
    the cowboy boots is still part of you, too.

    I admit that I own more pink stuff for C than I expected. But I dress her in what I consider gender neutral stuff too, often from the boys department. Let others call our girls "he" sometimes, if that's what comes with dressing them in primary colors and stripes. Better than teaching that to be a girl means all pink ruffles all the time!

    I don't have to deal with the preemie comments but I'm sorry that people can be so insensitive. Talking about that will get easier too, I think. In the meantime, that woman surely learned something. Hopefully she will think before she says that to the next preemie mom she meets.