So, yesterday I wrote about the “women’s retreat” I begrudgingly am participating in with some colleagues (friends?). I wrote that it is uncomfortable and a bit ridiculous, but sometimes feels worthwhile.
I’m not going to take that back entirely, but I am going to vent for a minute. Today, we were talking about something in our reading that I actually felt spoke to me—about how anxiety can steal our happiness and not allow us to feel true joy because we’re afraid of losing it. Brene Brown was specifically writing about how impossible it feels sometimes to love our kids with such a wild, unbridled, overwhelming love that it feels like we’re tempting fate with our happiness.
That got me. I feel that constantly.
For some amazing reason, it seems like many women in academia (at least at my university) are childless. Of the 12 in our retreat thing, only 2 of us have kids. You read that right.
So, I make a concerted effort not to talk about my kids, because I know it’s not a shared experience.
Well, today, I brought up this nearly crippling anxiety that has consumed me from the moment I became a mom, and the other mother in the group agreed with a supportive “Oh my god, yes,” bringing up the idea of just how many times we envision our children dying horrible deaths each day.
And then, THEN, another person said they understood completely because sometimes they look at their dog and cat and feel that kind of love and are overcome and just can’t help but cry. And THEN, everyone else chimed in and started off about how heartbreaking it is to have pets.
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK.
I know that people have a right to their own emotions. I know that people get attached to pets. I know that people are trying their best to find common ground. But, seriously? Your fucking cat is not likely to die in a school shooting, so cross that off your worry list.
I know that I should have said something in the moment, but everyone else was so carried away with their impassioned speeches about how hard it is to be a pet mom that I just couldn’t close my gaping mouth and formulate words.
It made me angry, and confirmed what I usually feel: isolated and not understood.