Chapter 6: A License to Complain

complaintThis is the next post in a two-week series which chronicles my journey through a miscarriage that occurred in the fall of 2011.  Although it is a story of heartbreak, it is also one filled with God’s tender mercy.  Made only more beautiful knowing we will welcome our newest baby in September of 2014, the very month our last little one went Home.

Flowers. Random bursts of tears. And sorrow unending.

All my constant companions over the next two days and really, nearly all the days after.

Rather maudlin, eh? But I suppose as with anything truly beautiful, you have to first muddle through the not so beautiful. Amid all my emotions during that time, however, the one thing I could not get past was a remarkable case of sensitivity.

Even now, I struggle with it. But in the midst of grief, it is a subject that cannot be ignored. Or maybe, better stated, will not be ignored.

Some might have called me oversensitive. Others might have tried not to be insensitive. And in the moments where all was right with the world, everyone involved was just the right amount of sensitive.

And yet, no matter the balance or imbalance, I always seemed to end up in tears. Tough for a girl who never cries. Even tougher for a girl who always laughs…

But nonetheless, it seemed appropriate that the moment my brain realized my heart was running the show would take place at Target. A place that had seen many tantrums, tears and chaos imparted by my children. A place that had witnessed my entire backside scantily clothed in only spanx thanks to a mishap with some oddly fitting jeans.

True. Story.

Bless. My. Heart.

(Or jeans, as the case may be.)

But on this Wednesday adventure, the kids were especially spirited. Crying, whining and a few well placed flying objects caused the cashier to say, “Well, at least you don’t have any more to keep you busy!” Normally, I would have just made some quip, praying all the way to the door that it didn’t get crazier.

But this time, I almost slapped the poor woman.

Truth be told, what I really wanted to do involved some intricate Charlie’s Angels’ moves. Karate chopping, crazy hair pulling and all. But considering my coordination, slapping probably would have been more effective.

Definitely oversensitive.

Then sometime later that day, my husband, in what I can only assume was a moment of insanity, at the same subject of spiritedness quipped, “And we thought we could handle four!”

Definitely insensitive.

Now I am sorry to say that the grace I extended to the Target cashier did not reach my husband that day. Nor did the holding of my tongue. Grief can do that to you.

It’s the one blooming thing that can take words that in any other moment would be a silly little nothing and turn it into the most offensive you could ever imagine.

Part of it comes with the territory. In this case, I was hurting and broken. So in many ways, I was an emotional time bomb, likely hurt by the most benign words.

But the experience did cause me to wonder, “In bearing one another’s burdens, shouldn’t we also take great care to use our words sparingly and carefully? Do and say only the things that alleviate the burden rather than make us feel better? Or more comfortable?”

How can those who are loving others through grief be the right kind of sensitive?

I am still working on those answers. On that Wednesday, however, I found the place where sensitivity most certainly did not exist. Nor did it provide comfort.


Sure, there were posts that hurt just because they did.

Pregnancy announcements. Birth announcements.  Gender reveals.

But those things cannot be helped and in many ways, putting on your big girl pants and facing them help you heal. It was the other posts, the complaints. The verbal unloading…

“I am so tired of morning sickness.”

“Pregnancy sucks.”

“I can’t handle getting up with a newborn one more night!” “

“The worst thing in the world would be if I found out I was pregnant again.”

Those. Words.

Those words made me dissolve into a puddle of tears in a way nothing else could.

In my kitchen.  In my bedroom.  In my car.

And I wallowed in this place for weeks, felt ridiculously sorry for myself, got mad and yelled a bit.  But then it hit me…

How many of my own social media mommy “complaints” had sent some poor girl to her knees and sent her to weep on her kitchen floor? How many girls had I wounded that were struggling with infertility, who would have given their right arms to have an awesome reason to puke?  Or how many mamas had stumbled across my wah, wah, wah’s who had just lost their colicky babies or sassy toddlers or moody teenagers?

It was with that realization that my heart shattered.

In so many ways, I had acted as if I was owed a license to complain.  One that was issued with the first wave of morning sickness and apparently, was to be carried until I died or the world ended.  But in reality, my heart knew better.

Motherhood, as crazy as it may be, is a gift.

A gift that comes with sacrifice. But somewhere in all the everyday stuff, I’d lost the gift. And I’d fixated on the sacrifice.

It is this fixation that gave me reason to pause for a moment, even in my grief. Forcing me to look deeply at my own mothering. And forcing me to ask some truly tough questions.

What if I really did everything without complaining or arguing? How would it change me? How would it change my children?

And how much hurt would I spare others that my Jesus loves just by keeping my big, old complaining mouth shut?

Such were the queries my grief brought to me in the days following the flowers and the silent screen. Before the days of hospitals and IV lines. But they were days that will forever be on my heart.

For they were the days that changed my heart. On what it means to love someone who hurts. And on what it says to the one hurting when you care enough to give up your license to complain.

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