The last eight days have had us joyfully celebrating the safe and happy arrival of our baby girls. We’ve been on cloud nine, enjoying cuddling them, caring for them, and cherishing them. We’ve spent hours marvelling at how tiny yet perfectly formed they are. Every detail has been taken in, from their tiny fingers and toes to their scrunching of noses when they yawn. The sounds they make and the faces they pull, nothing has been missed and has been closely watched and drunk in by us. We’ve spent the last eight days savouring every second of this part of parenting where we are getting to know these two new, precious additions to our family.
We’ve been overwhelmed and overjoyed. We’ve been congratulated and sent cards and gifts and good wishes, yet it came to my attention that we’ve got it all wrong.
I came across a headline yesterday about how mothers of twins live longer and are stronger according to a study of 59,000 women. I first read it and thought, “Well, good news for me!”. I then went back and re-read the headline.
And then I felt annoyed.
Twice the burden?
Why not something like, “Double the fun” or “Twice as nice”?
Why is it ok to refer to the safe arrival of a new child into the family as a negative thing? Not only is it ok to refer to a child as a burden, but acceptable to do so? How many people would have touched on that headline as being offensive or inappropriate? How many people reading this post would consider me over-sensitive to it and over-reactive? They’re only words, after all.
The problem is that they aren’t “only words”. This seems to be the norm nowadays of how children are viewed. The dictionary definition of the word “burden” is something that is carried (load) or something oppressive or worrisome. “Burden” is also defined as a dead weight, an imposition, a headache, a concern and a millstone.
Would you console a grieving parent that they are now free of the burden of the child they no longer have? Or would you pat a couple on the back who have been trying desperately to for years to start the family they so long for and tell them not to worry, at least they won’t have such a great millstone around their necks? Would you read my last two posts and then send me a “With Deepest Sympathy” card and tell me how sorry you are that I am now subjected to a life of affliction?
We don’t have a right to have children. We don’t have a right to take them or the ability to have them as an entitlement. This was all given as a gift to us which we have over time taken for granted. Then we began to see them as an inconvenience, fitting one or two in if we decide to because, after all, there is so much more out there we could be spending our time and money on, and this slope has now led us to resent the very things we should be appreciating and be grateful of.
The Evening Standard’s article isn’t the exception by any means. This is one example of many out there and sadly I feel it is only going to get worse. The effect of which is that people read headlines like this and don’t even question them, which means that it’s normal, it’s accepted and it’s now the view of the majority of society.
So while I go and hold my beautiful newborn daughters and drink in their new baby smell and watch them as they sleep, I will be thinking of all the other crosses in life I could be bearing, and if this is the burden God chose for me to bear then I’ll take it gladly and count myself very, very lucky.