“Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t so.”
― Lemony Snicket
I find it so difficult to manage my emotions around others at times. Most of the time other people are kind and understanding, as much as they can be I guess. But sometimes, and I have to admit this is mostly with people who don’t have kids yet, there is a real lack of empathy.
Parents are expected to struggle with sleep, it’s almost a ‘well you chose it’ situation. Is that fair or kind? No one chooses sleep deprivation. Being a parent is so challenging, on so many levels. It forces you to confront your beliefs and values, to carefully consider your choices from the moment your first child arrives. Seemingly insignificant decisions suddenly become monumental.
The hardest part of it, for me, has always been that our journey has been a little bit different from the well travelled one. Most parents experience sleep deprivation in the early weeks and months, but it doesn’t often go on for months and even years. But in the eyes of some, the true cost to a parents life isn’t seen. The impact of sleep deprivation in our lives is multi-faceted. Not only has our health suffered, but our relationship struggles along at times.
We have missed out on events, trips and activities due to tiredness or not wanting to take a risk on how it might impact our (very loose) routine. We feel isolated when other people (parents or not) don’t understand how we feel, and perhaps even say misguided comments that make us feel dismissed.
I’ve written about empathy before and I continue to see the importance of the conversation as time passes. I see it in my course materials for my Masters, I see it in small interactions with others, and I see it played out in the media. I worry about how life will be for my son when he’s my age, about how empathetic we will be about others as a human race.
If I can ask one thing of you, dear reader, it is that you approach other people with kindness and understanding. We are all the same, but we all walk in different shoes. Stop, stay awhile and listen to one another. Don’t dismiss another person’s feelings. It may not sound much to you, but it could mean everything to them.