Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting something off my back!

This is one of the zen stories that is told in Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth:

A Heavy Load:
Two traveling monks reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn't step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn't help her across the puddle.
The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn't thank the older monk, she just shoved him out of the way and departed.
As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. "That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then she didn't even thank you!"
"I set the woman down hours ago," the older monk replied. "Why are you still carrying her?"

Ever since J was born we have had many negative reactions to having 3 girls. Things like, "Oh, I do not envy you!" "Wait until they are all teenagers!" "Boys are so much easier than girls!" "Can't your husband make boys!" Some of these on their own are not so bad but what has been so difficult is how many times we hear this kind of response when we say we have three girls.

Well, last Saturday we were at a event at the art museum and we saw a two mom family that we know from other activities we do in the community. Actually, we saw this same family at the Museum of Natural History on the day I had J. I was excited to share this piece of information with this family, especially the woman I seem to talk the most to, but instead she very quickly moved to gender and then said "Can't your husband make boys?" I was stunned. It has been weeks now since I have heard this type of comment (mostly because at this point I am sure everyone knows and either has said something negative or not) but I guess because of her orientation I didn't think this would be her reaction. I said something about no, we like to make people, and wandered off.

As I was looking at chalk drawings I could not stop thinking about it. Was she joking? Is there something else going on for her? I know I am sensitive to this reaction because of how much I have heard it. I can't believe she is intentional trying to be hurtful. But as a woman I don't understand the motivation. These comments are said in front of kids, in front of her daughter even. To me it sounds like, well good thing we got one boy because we already have one girl. Admittedly, this is probably my own filter and not her daughter's thinking. And, the greatest worry, that my daughters, will feel less, is probably also just adult construct.

If I back up, I can honestly admit that I really really really wanted a boy when we were pregnant with E. And we did not find out until she was born. I was not disappointed at all. Instead, I realized I was wrong. I was wrong that I needed a boy. I needed whatever awesome kid was coming along. She changed me. Maybe that is what I need to remember. Carry around that idea and let down this other interaction with gender.

I know that mom is not still thinking about what she said, so why am I? Hopefully writing it out will help me let it go. I think about if I see her again. What will I say? How will I not come off as aggressive? Just sincerely hurt and confused at her motivation to say that? But then wouldn't I be asking these questions in front of my girls? Does it give this interaction more power by continuing to bring it up?

While wrestling with all this I thought of the story from above. And I do want to let it go. I want to put this down and just walk away. And maybe that is what this posting is, me putting this done and walking away.