Mean Girls

I have something to admit. Sometimes I feel like a failure. I feel it most acutely when I think about our dog, Charlie. Because, you see, we gave her away.

There came a time, in the midst of that blurry first year with the kids, that we realized it would be selfish to keep her in our home. We were just not able to care for her the way that loving ol’ girl deserved to be cared for. I won’t go into the details, because this post is not about how difficult our situation was.

This post is about mean girls and judgement.

We were so thrilled to find her a loving home, on a beautiful farm with hundreds of acres and other doggie friends to play with. No children, no more leashes and hurried walks, no more hiding behind baby gates. This weekend, however, I received a scathing email from the woman who found this beautiful home for our pup. She felt the need, now that Charlie was all settled in, to let me know her thoughts on the decision that we made for our family. I was floored. I hadn’t felt such judgement or hatred in such a long time. I tried to explain that she didn’t know how hard we had tried, how long we had all been hoping our situation would improve; how she didn’t know what went on in our home.

She told me I wasn’t the first person to have kids and a dog.

After a weekend of hurt and anger, I am now looking inward and asking myself why it hurts so much. The answer is because part of me thinks she’s right. I failed. I couldn’t have kids and a dog.

And then I started thinking about all the other people who have judgements thrown on them, regarding breastfeeding or formula feeding, bed-sharing or placing their newborn in a room by themselves, returning to work or staying home, daycare or hired help. Every time I’m on Facebook I come across another article describing one of these judgements, telling moms everywhere that they may be failing at the most important job on earth. Or our food choices: animals, dairy, organic, processed…we all have kernels of self-doubt inside of us, making us vulnerable and sensitive. I couldn’t handle the judgement because it hurt so much to wonder if the right decision had been made.

As I place more space around her words, I am using this to remind myself that I need to choose the comments I let into my world. As the young kids say, haters be hatin’. There will always be mean girls.

Some will say mean things behind your back, and some will say it to your face. Some comments, you won’t really care about, and some will really hurt you, because they will hit your place of self-doubt. The mommy wars, dietary choices, politics, bullying – these issues will always be around, because there will always be mean girls (and boys) who are operating from their place of self-doubt. The only way around it is to take care of ourselves, to know our own reasons are enough. To take care of others, by offering support, listening and – before we dole out opinions and advice – remembering: we cannot, ever, truly know what it’s like to be someone else. Our paths in life are too varied; our perspectives are too unique.

Words that come from insecurity are damaging. Words of understanding come from a place of love.

My anger from the words that were written to me is finally receding, and so I will push out words of love:

To the person who wrote them, I allow that you do not understand our reasons for giving up our dog, and I forgive that you felt the need to tell me that. Perhaps you too have been hurt by words.

To our dog Charlie, I am so sorry that we were unable to make things work with you in our family, and I know that you will have everything you deserve in the last years of your life.

And to myself, I release myself from guilt, because we chose the hard decision, the unpopular decision, the one that was best for ALL of us.

My lovely readers, I urge you to offer words of love to those around you, and to yourself. And especially to those whose choices you don’t understand.

Every word counts.

Sarah

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About Sarah Tombler

I live in Ottawa, Canada with my husband and our twins. I work for the Public Service, and I have been a vegetarian for 18 years. Over the years, I have started to understand that what we eat effects us, through mood, weight and positive thoughts. I am working towards cutting most animal products from my diet, in an attempt to live a life of compassion, and to do what I can to help this small planet of ours. I also love letting people know that the secret to happiness may be as simple as what we put in our bodies. View all posts by Sarah Tombler

2 responses to “Mean Girls

  • SaraBeth

    When Molly and Jack were born we had two cats…within weeks one started peeing on the floor everywhere, we assumed it was jealousy. Tweak was a deaf cat that we rescued years ago, he was deaf, hated being snuck up on and had a bit of a temper, along with all of his claws: basically any parent of toddlers worst nightmare. When the peeing got out of control we took him to the vet and found out that he had diabetes. We tried to treat it, but were too late and when Molly and Jack turned a month we had to have Tweak put down. Some of the warning signs we missed because we were preoccupied and because Chris had taken over scooping duty when we found out I was pregnant and he thought that the volume of urine had always been high. I am sad about what happened to Tweak, and that we didn’t catch things in time. At the same time, when I see Molly or Jack poke at our other cat Pan, or try to ride him like a horse I know that Tweak would not have been so gentle. One of them would probably have a scar across their face and that we may have had to find him a new home had he not passed. I feel for you having to make this choice. I am so sorry that someone was so judgmental about the hard decision you had to make.

    • Sarah Tombler

      Thanks for your comment Sarabeth. I have talked to others before about their pet situations not working out too…I’m sure Tweak understands and is probably glad that he isn’t being poked and ridden on too :) (Love your cat’s names btw!)

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