You probably think that’s a bit much. Like OK Meg maybe I drive a bit aggressively, but asshole? Come on man that’s got me all triggered.
Not only are you an asshole, but I bet you are almost every day and I can prove it. Spoiler alert, so am I.
Disagree? Let me tell you a little story.
A while back there was a woman sitting in McDonald’s, zoned out staring at her phone. Lost in the endless scrolling, totally tuned out to the fact that her kid was in full disruptive mode harassing people. And I mean harassing. Climbing on benches and talking to everyone, asking annoying questions, throwing McNugget’s in the air. This chick just sat there clueless and the whole restaurant stared with their judgey eyes.
We’ve all seen that mom at the park or in the store. We purse our lips and clutch our pearls and post some stupid shit about technology ruining lives (even though we’re all guilty).
Now what if I told you that the reason that mom tuned out was that she was worried she was bleeding through her pad. What if I told you she was nervous about standing up because it might run down her leg.
What if I told you that she wasn’t sure how to take her young son into the bathroom because he’d ask questions about what he saw.
What if I told you that young mother was in the process of miscarrying a baby.
What if I told you that mama was me.
My son was four years old at the time and we had gone to a city four hours away to get an ultrasound. I was about 12 weeks along, or should have been I guess.
My husband was working away but he came down for the appointment. I remember sitting in that room with the big screen on the wall, waiting to see that silhouette. Tiny feet. Baby hands.
That little pulsing heartbeat.
I remember being so excited to tell my kid check it out! That’s your baby brother or sister on the screen! Sweet right? Isn’t that awesome?
I remember the ultrasound technician not making eye contact with me.
I remember looking up and not seeing anything that looked like a baby.
I remember a little blob that floated motionless. Silent.
The room was silent.
I said ‘that isn’t right, is it?’. And ‘no’, she shook her head, ‘it wasn’t’.
Leaving the office felt like a bad dream. It felt like floating or watching someone else’s life. Like the freaking twilight zone. I stood in the elevator as my four year old asked questions about why the baby didn’t move. In the back of my mind I heard my husband explain to him that sometimes babies don’t quite develop like they should. They don’t always make it. That’s how nature works son, maybe we’ll have better luck next time.
The texts came from friends and family.
‘How was the appointment?’
Telling everyone about what happened rivaled the actual loss for the shittiest part of this experience. Made doubly awful by the fact that we’d announced our pregnancy on social media and now had to explain to all those people why we wouldn’t be bringing a baby home. Anyone who’s experienced a loss can tell you that in a fucked up way you feel like you’ve failed and let everyone down. Expecting a baby is a family affair and they were all so goddamn excited. And now what. Now what? You have to tell them and disappoint them and hear pity in their voices and see sadness in their eyes.
My husband went back to work that night. What the hell I was supposed to do now.
They don’t give you a pamphlet when your baby dies.
They don’t sit you down and tell you that you will bleed more than you thought humanly possible.
They don’t tell you that the pain will feel like childbirth. That you will have contractions and ‘expel’ the fetus. They don’t tell you that you will feel dizzy and sick and lightheaded and worry that you might die.
I remember sitting in the bathroom worrying that I’d get blood stains on my sisters white tile grout.
The morning after I lost that baby I had to drive four hours home with my son by myself.
That’s when I pulled into McDonald’s, sat down on a bench, and tried to keep it together just long enough to buy a Happy Meal and get to the bathroom.
The people that saw me that day saw me on the worst day of my life.
When you go out in public and a woman seems distracted. Or a person looks frustrated. Try to remember that might be the lowest point in their lives, too.
Maybe that lady wore pajamas to the store because her husband just died.
Maybe that guy cut you off in traffic because he just took his kid off life support.
Maybe you aren’t the center of the goddamn universe, and how their actions affect you is completely overshadowed by whatever they’re dealing with at that moment.
Be. Freaking. Kind.
You have no idea what kind of shit people are going through, and some of it is unimaginable. Some of it would take your breath away. Have you ever wondered why a person is homeless or why they look a hot mess? Can you imagine losing your entire family or getting your ass kicked by someone you love? Losing your house in a fire or being the sole survivor of a car accident?
The tragedy and overwhelming circumstances of this world know no bounds, there are human beings out there just trying to survive. So please, please be kind. It’s something I never really understood until I did, and that day I was made aware of just how profoundly lacking in compassion we are.
Remember that, when you’re out in the world.
Remember that when you’re talking shit about someone you call a friend. Remember it when you gossip. Remember it when you aren’t a nice person and you know damn well you should be.
I shake my head when I see anti-bullying campaigns and memes about how mean kids are. Not because I don’t agree with those things but because they learn that behavior from us.
We are a society of assholes.
Just pick up a People magazine or watch reality TV. We are ruthless with our criticism and have the audacity to act surprised when kids mimic our behavior.
Shame on us.
If we want to raise kids that aren’t bullies we need to damn well start at home. We need to stop talking shit about our friends and Googling pictures of celebrity’s ass dimples.
You want to raise nice kids? Stop affiliating yourself with people who don’t care. Stop being a person that doesn’t care. If you wouldn’t want it said about you then you sure don’t get to say it about anyone else. Don’t laugh at other peoples expense. Stop tolerating the intolerable. Don’t judge people when you’re out in public.
Be fiercely loyal. Be unfaltering compassionate.
Be. Freaking. Kind.
First to yourself. Then to others.
Maybe then the world won’t feel like such a messed up place.