Sad to say this, but it looks like I'll have to do what I did back when I got married, start to ignore most people who try to talk to me. As the due date for my baby comes closer, I'd really like to enjoy this phase of my life, and truth be told, people are depressing me. I'm told that my habit of actually listening to people and trying to understand why they say what they do is a bad one, so I'll suspend it for a while.
Now, I've had some truly wonderful people do some amazing things, like the ward member who just showed up with dinner one night or the Relief Society President who came by to visit with me and let me know that if I did face any difficulty, she'd be happy to help me. My visiting teachers have been very down to earth and kind, and I've got several friends who have shown real selflessnessness and kindness. I'm grateful to all of these people.
The vast majority of people who talk to me, though, launch straight into a war story. It's worse than when I was getting married, when I faced a slew of random, unsolicited complaints by people about their spouses and how "hard" marriage is. Now I'm getting complaints by people about pregnancy, labor, and child rearing. It'd be infuriating, if it wasn't so sad.
About half the women who notice that I'm pregnant ask me if I'm ready for it to be over and start right into a complaint about how much they hated pregnancy and how it seemed to last foreeeever. It took me four years to get pregnant, past the point that I ever really hoped to have a biological child. Is it uncomfortable? Sure, sometimes. Am I going to complain about it? Not a chance! If I'm wincing or wheezing, I'll explain to the people around me why, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. So I really get sick and tired of other people's whining. Apparently having children for them was such a breeze that they have the luxury of complaining about the mode of arrival. It's a bit like listening to someone complain about the taxes they have to pay on a million dollar inheritance. It's so sad. It makes me wonder how many people really wanted the kids they already have.
Three women have asked me if I'm tired of the labor war stories yet, only three. Many of the rest just start telling them (and men do this too, complaining about how their wives were in labor). Really, I don't care to know. Everything I've read on labor indicates its a varied and individual experience. I'm sure it's quite painful. But hey, some things are worth a little pain. In these stories I get a sense that a lot of people like to one-up those around them, the complaining is a form of bragging about what they can endure. Well, that's totally weird. Heck, if people want to get into a one-upsmanship about pain, I suppose I could probably win and I don't care. I'm glad most people haven't been hospitalized as often as I have, have broken as many bones at one time, or have brought down a commercial airliner so that they could seek medical treatment because they were at risk for rupturing an organ (yeah, true story, I did that). I didn't endure the pain because I'm ever so tough. I didn't really have a choice. You too would endure if you had to, and I hope you never do. I don't have a lot of choice about the kind of labor I have, only how I handle it, and part of how I choose to handle it is to not preserve it as some intense emotional scar to wave in the faces of other pregnant women.
The saddest of all, though, are the complaints about children and childrearing. Exactly two people have said, "You're in for so much fun!". The vast majority of people open their unsolicited comments with a negative. They complain about the sleep deprivation or the lack of time to themselves or, worse still, complain about one of their kids specifically. Their toddler is a nightmare or their teenager is brainless. Again, it's just sad. I know babies disrupt sleep and can be all consuming. I know that trying to raise a kid can be a strife-ridden and frustrating experience, however, I don't intend to dwell on that kind of stuff, and truth be told, I don't really care about other people's troubles, because given what I've heard about them, they sound self inflicted to me.
When I got married I heard a lot of complaints from people about their spouses, about adapting to living with someone else, etc. and I vowed that I was going to go in with a different attitude. I would never complain about my spouse to a third party except in a dire situation where I needed help. I.e. he shows signs of a dangerous behavior change that could be a medical problem and I need to compare notes - extreme stuff like that. All the usual run of the mill complaints would only be said to my spouse, if to anyone at all. Quite a few deserve to die unspoken, in my opinion. Six years on, I can see the difference it's made. I really don't have any complaints about him that I can think of offhand. The very thought of him makes me unreservedly happy. I'm sure annoyances crop up in my mind, but they drop out as fast as they drop in. I can honestly say I'm happier married than I was single, and more to the point, it's the first thing I'll say to anyone I see wearing an engagement ring. I intend to be the same with my kids. I intend to enjoy them and focus on all the good they bring to my life. I intend to remember how badly I wanted them and how blessed I am to have them. The bad stuff doesn't deserve my energy.
So, I am very sorry that for so many people, their first association with having children is negative. But no, I'm not impressed with how little sleep people got or their amazing sacrifice for putting up with so-and-so for a kid or their incredible selflessness for enduring such hardship to do their duty and raise a child. Rather, I just think they need to stop complaining. I feel even sorrier for the children, who are, as often as not, standing right there when their parents carry on. But from now until my baby's born, I'm shutting off my ears. I don't want to hear it. If I look like I'm ignoring you, I probably am. I'm about to embark on my next great adventure in life, be excited for me or... well... shut up :-).