I recently made a mistake I have made way too often. Most parents make this same mistake because it often goes unreported. The day we meet our children is one of the most life-changing moments of our lives. Actually, it might be the most life-changing moment of our lives. It’s natural to talk about it, write about it, google it, and think about it. We are members of a very large, but exclusive club—and we need to be aware of those who haven’t been able to join.
I am not a huge fan of the Greek system on most college campuses. I dropped out of my sorority in college when it went national. The national rules stated that we could only take a certain percentage of the girls who wanted to join. The rest received word they had not been “chosen.” I still remember girls jumping around in excitement while a few others left the room in tears, wondering what they had done wrong. It was understandable that most of the girls were excited to have been selected. The group left out was much smaller, and they didn’t blame the girls who won, they were just sad not to be included. They were just as “worthy” as the ones who were chosen, in fact, some that were left out might actually have been better members. It was all kind of random, and it didn’t seem right to me.
A lot of people feel like members of that smaller, rejected group because they have never been able to join the Parent’s Club. They are excited for their friends who will push a stroller, but sad because they can’t. Some try multiple times and multiple methods and each time the disappointment seems a little more difficult to bear. They feel left behind or excluded. They are just as worthy, but there is that percentage that is always left out.
If you are reading this article, chances are you are a member of the club—but you also know someone who has been part of that losing percentage. It is normal to talk about the biggest, most consuming part of your life. How much of your day is spent thinking about or doing things related to parenting? But, it is also normal for the non-member to feel excluded, from most of what other people are talking about.
I was riding on an elevator with about fifteen women ranging from young to old. A woman got on with her baby and her screaming infant. She felt badly that her baby was making a lot of noise and I wanted her not to feel concerned. I smiled and said, “Don’t worry, this is just a bunch of moms in here and we all understand.” Then I noticed a woman in the corner, whom I have known for years, with that funny look on her face. She is in her sixties and never married. She isn’t a member of the Parent’s Club and she never will be. And, in that moment, my words reminded her of that all over again.
I couldn’t take back what was intended to be a kind and encouraging statement. My friend wouldn’t have asked me to. But if I had been just a few seconds more aware, I could have chosen words that didn’t exclude her from the rest of us on that elevator.
The Parent’s Club is a wonderful group, but there is a percentage who will not be able to join. For a while anyway, I will be a little more sensitive to those who are not able to join. All I need to do is remember that funny look on my friend’s face.
Enjoy your membership in the club. But remember to be sensitive to the other percentage that, for whatever reason, has never been able to join. They are worthy of conversation, of friendship, and of inclusion. In fact, they will help you think outside the box and remember that there is life outside the walls of the club too. Because the day will come when you spend less time “paying those dues.”
Think of at least one “non-member” of the Parent’s Club. What might you talk about the next time you see him or her?