I have seen an insane amount of “open letters” or as my sister likes to call them —“tips” for things you shouldn’t say to “new moms” or “moms of 5 or more kids” or “moms of adopted kids” or “hoping to be but struggling to be moms” and the list goes on.
The gist is people get offended by everything. Or at least that’s what I got out of it. I get it. People say dumb stuff they shouldn’t say. But seriously, we’ve got to give these “open letters” a rest.
Here’s what the outcome seems to be from open letters:
1. We forfeit the chance for real growth. Y’all I am the first to say that I’ve been offended by certain things said when Vivi was born. With all the hormones, it’s going to happen. If I had to hear one more time that this little baby I spent TEN MONTHS uncomfortably carrying around, then cut out of my belly didn’t look a thing like me, I was going to cry. I eventually had to change my ‘tude (I was only making myself miserable) and each time I heard someone say it, I had to remind myself that they were not implying that I was not Vivi’s mommy or that I hadn’t devoted most the last 10 months to her needs. They were simply saying she had Tyler’s features. Having to exercise these thoughts helped me to simply learn how to be rational and look at people’s intentions. I have to do this in marriage too so the practice was useful.
2. Open letters give a list of reasons you should be offended, JUUUUST incase you weren’t offended. We find reasons we never even knew of to be offended and it’s making us a bunch of softies.
3. Open letters normally only hurt the offended. We are a planet full of flawed individuals. People are going to put their foot in their mouth. I am the QUEEN of awkward. I say dumb things all the time. Like right now, I’m probably saying something dumb and you might be offended. It’s the great lesson about forgiveness. When we stay mad, it rarely hurts the other person but always hurts ourselves. Let go of feeling offended and you will find so much freedom in it.
4. Reading open letters makes people nervous. My sister mentioned being nervous she wasn’t following correct protocol when visiting a new mom. You’ve got to bring food, you can’t be late and you shouldn’t call or text too much. But what if you are running late? (You technically aren’t allowed to run late because you aren’t busy like a mom.) Do you text and try again another day? Did you miss the window? What do you do with this food you just paid for?
5. Writing open letters focus on how other people can fix the problem instead of focusing on what we can do. In a marriage if we have that attitude, we pretty much kill any chance at happiness if we are always waiting on someone else to fix the problem. Friendships might die because of it too.
6. We forfeit the chance for real communication and understanding. Sharing perspectives is GREAT y’all. It’s one of the greatest gifts of having friendships with people in various stages of life. What better place to do it than when you are sitting face to face and can share your true feelings (not the feelings a list make you think you should feel)? A blurb of a post will never give true understanding like a conversation will. How much better would it be to chat with a friend and say, “Well that’s not exactly the case. Here’s what’s really happening.” When someone says “It must be so easy to get to be a stay at home mom with your kids all day.”
7. They polarize people. If you agree with them, you leave a comment saying “Yea! Single people have NOOO idea what it’s like” while a single person sees the extreme response and says “This list is ridiculous. ALL moms are so terrible.” It’s extreme and just makes us think badly of the group we aren’t a part of.
I have a sister, twin sister to be exact, who is a solid 20 pounds lighter than me and always looks perfect, makeup, nails, hair ... I digress. If we followed the advice I’ve read in blogs, should I tell her to not wear makeup around me because I don’t wear it much anymore. Or should I tell her not to dress up or that she should wear baggy clothes to make me feel better?
Moms, how would we feel if single gals had an open letter saying “when you come over, don’t bring your kid. They only make a mess.” Or “Don’t complain about your body. It makes me uncomfortable.” “Don’t complain about your husband, at least you have one.” “Or don’t complain about your kid, I may never have one.” What about a ban on anyone saying “I didn’t know happiness until I had a kid” or “My life was incomplete without my family?”
My sister has heard her fair share of offensive comments from moms or married people. She hasn’t written an open letter. The backlash would be insane! (Those previous examples made you cringe, didn’t they?) She might still get annoyed to hear them, but she’s learned how to handle them and she is the happiest single gal for it. I think we can take a cue from her, moms, myself included.
I’m not saying all this as my own open letter, because I’m offended by the original open letters. I’m saying it because I think if we stopped writing them or reading them, we might all be happier in general. And as I’ve mentioned, we are a flawed bunch of people. If I search through my hundreds of blog post over the last few years, there will probably be one in there that sounds much like an open letter. I’m still learning too!
Happy momma Valerie Woerner with her happy single twin Natalie