We Do Better…

Sometimes when I read comments here on the blog, I worry that you all have an incorrect image of me.  I am not perfect.  I am far from it.  I don’t have the perfect family.  I haven’t always been the person I am today.  I’ve made tons of mistakes.  I’ve said the wrong thing at the wrong time.  I’ve hurt people’s feelings.  I’ve yelled too hard.  I haven’t been patient when being patient is what the situation needed.  I’ve lost my temper.  I’ve been unkind.  I’ve not treated people with respect.  I’ve thought of myself above others.  I’ve rolled my eyes. I’m a person full of flaws.

Let me explain.

On Memorial Day I wrote a blog post saying that maybe we shouldn’t say “Happy Memorial Day” as Memorial Day is the day we stop to honor soldiers who fought for our freedom and died.   They are the ones who died in uniform.  I said that “Happy” seems like the wrong word.  You are read the whole post HERE.

Brenda made a comment that said, “I so agree but ALWAYS wonder at the end of the day how many times I thoughtlessly wished someone a “happy” memorial day. We have had family in every war since the Revolutionary War and suffered no loss of life. Injury YES but no loss of life.”

I’m right there with you Brenda.  I’ve said so many wrong things in my life.  I’m surprised people here on the blog or anywhere have stuck with me for so long.  Like I said…I am flawed.

I have said “Happy Memorial Day”…but a few years ago when someone pointed it out to me that maybe “Happy” wasn’t the right word, I listened and took it to heart.  Will I say it again?  Likely.  BUT, I’m trying not to.  I’ve consciously thought about it and don’t want to.  Will it slip because it’s a habit and common…truthfully, I probably will.  It won’t be consciously.  It won’t be intentional…but I know better now so I’m going to try to do better.

Before I had family members that have dealt with infertility I completely took fertility for granted.  I would say callus things like”maybe next time things will go better”.  I’ve made comments like “I’m surprised you haven’t had kids yet”.   Yep.  I was that girl.  I’ve seen infertility through the eyes of two of my nieces and through my own daughter.  Now I know how hurtful some comments can be.  I know like me, the people who said them likely had no idea my daughter was trying to have children but things weren’t working.  They had no idea the udder disappointment that plagued Kelli each month…just like I had no idea.

I know better now, so I do better.  I don’t say those things.

When You Know Better, You Do Better

I have been in a situation.  We were at a party.  A person came up to the circle of people that I was chatting with and out of the blue the person said to someone in our circle, “I’m surprised you aren’t expecting yet”.  The others of us who were standing there were flabbergasted.  I didn’t know what to do.  Very pointedly I quickly said, “It doesn’t work the same way for all of us.”  Luckily Kalissa was there with me in the group I was talking with and she quickly changed the subject.  Still, I’m sure our friend was hurt.

No one who is going through infertility needs a reminder of their pain.  No one needs to know that others are noticing.

The list goes on and on over what I have learned.

I’ve learned to keep my political opinion mostly to myself.  No one needs to know how I vote.  I was talking to a childcare mom of mine and we both agreed that it doesn’t matter to us who others support as long as they don’t throw it our face…in return, we won’t throw our opinions in other’s faces either.  I’ve seen so many people hurt and relationships are broken over this last election cycle.  The childcare mom and I both had dealt with people we love getting hurt…no relationships will ever be the same.  Was grinding an opinion so important that it was the cost of a relationship?

Sometimes we need to see the bad or experience the bad to know to we need to do better.  You will never see me outrightly support or deny any candidate here because I don’t want to hurt anyone with my opinion.  Relationships are more important to me than a candidate or political party.  I wish others would have realized that before hurtful things were said that can’t be taken back.

I wasn’t always that way…but now I know better…and I do better.

I love this from Maya Angelou…

When You Know Better, You Do Better” – Phenomenal E

I am trying so hard to live this.  I’m trying so hard to forgive myself for things I’ve said and done in the past…many times because I didn’t know better.  Often things were said and done because I was young.  I didn’t have the life experience.  I was a lucky one who didn’t struggle with fertility.  I was a lucky one.  I was born to parents who loved me and took good care of me.

Along the way I heard some of the rude comments people can make.  I was a college girl and ended up pregnant.  I quit college and married the guy.  That guy was Kramer.

I heard all sorts of things…
-she trapped him
-she was our hope of someone in the family to finish college
-do you think that is going to last
-can you believe it
-how are they ever going to make it

The person who was my help…my mom.  I’m so thankful she was there for me.  She didn’t treat me badly.   She didn’t yell.  She told me not to marry him if I didn’t love him.  She pulled up her bootstraps and went to work.  She made my wedding dress when the rude gal at the bridal shop laughed and said there was no way to get a dress with two months’ notice.  She made two bridesmaid dresses and catered the entire event.  Not a single word was said to me that wasn’t kind or helpful.  I will always love her for that.

Because of my experience, I have gone out of my way to try to be a support to other gals who find themselves pregnant and not married in the traditional way.  I’ve made a point to not be what others were to me.

Sometimes I have to experience something myself to learn best how to not handle situations.  Sometimes I have to see someone close to me going through it to know.  Sometimes a good book…or even a good movie brings something to light for me, but there is always something that comes my way that teaches me lessons.

My cancer has taught me HUGE lessons.  Kramer’s cancer and death have taught me HUGE lessons as well.  I hope I can take those lessons and apply them…I don’t want to be the rude lady who came up to one of my kids at Kramer’s celebration of life and said, “He should have known better not to smoke”.  Lady, that was not the time or place to ever say that…and truly, I don’t think there’s ever a good time to say that.  Besides, don’t you think we knew that???  Think it in your head if you need to, but shut your mouth.  That really hurt my kid.  It hurt them a lot as the lady didn’t have the sense to just shut her mouth there…she droned on about it.  You can bet my kids will not have a good thing to say about her ever.

When I was younger, lessons had to hit me like a brick.  My eyes weren’t open.  I couldn’t see.  Nowadays, I look for lessons.  I want to do better.  I know I haven’t always been the best.  I can look back and see that.  I don’t want to be the old lady stuck in her ways that can’t see past what she’s thought she always knew.  I don’t want to be the rude lady at Kramer’s service.  I don’t want to hurt a friend with my loud opinion.  I want to be open to seeing that my simple actions or words can truly help someone and make them feel better.

I also want to remember that sometimes, my inaction is what is needed.  That can be tough too.

I recently saw this cross stitch chart and immediately bought it even though I’ve been trying to cut my cross stitch spending.  It says, “I myself am made entirely of flaws stitched together with good intentions”.

Good Intentions - Cross Stitch Pattern
I love the saying.  It is so true.  It’s a Kathy Barrick design called Good Intentions.

I’m not perfect.  I will at some point likely say, “Happy Memorial Day”.  It’s hard to make the change.  But I am trying.  I am trying so hard to better.  It’s a daily struggle for me.  I’m trying to look for ways to be better…say the right thing…do the right thing.  Thankfully I’ve learned to forgive myself for the things I did wrong.  I’ve accepted that I am a work in progress.  I’m still open to learning new lessons.  I’m still growing and striving to do better.  I hope you are too.



34 thoughts on “We Do Better…”

  1. My youngest daughter Candi suffers from infertility and has a group on line. It’s very painful to her At age 41. She lost the only baby she had carried thru in vetro. She would love to adopt but too afraid that the person would change their mind. I know Mother’s Day is very painful. And she too had people always asking “When she was going to finally start a family”. Words can cut a person down or build them up. I think some times we don’t realize the impact of words as we ourselves feel awkward and just simply try to respond.
    God Bless you Jo.

    1. Susan from Michigan

      I relate to the struggle with infertility. I was born the day after Mother’s day. My mom always told me it was her best Mother’s day ever. Going to church on Mother’s day has been painful, as we hear how wonderful the mothers are, but I never got the chance. Baby showers have been painful. Being in woman’s circles and hearing them complain about their kids, or the fact that they have too many kids. I never got to make that choice. I have no kids to complain about. Going to the fertility doctor in my 40s, was talked to like I have one foot in the grave, and the other on a banana peel. I am in my 50s now. I know I missed a lot, but I have accepted not being a mom. Doesn’t mean I like it. I really cherish any time I get with kids. I have lots of nieces and nephews, and they’re having kids. Me nephew said to me when he was too young to know better, “Happy Mother’s day, but you’re not a mother.” Ouch but I didn’t say anything. Thanks for being real, Jo, and sharing with us.

  2. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful post! Such heartfelt words. I think anyone who reads this can relate to it. Thank you for reminding us to forgive ourselves, and do better.

  3. Everything that you said resonates with me, I have either been through it or had an immediate family member have that problem, such as infertility and getting pregnant and not married. I know the pain that my sister, who is now 57 years old, she always wanted a child. Sometimes I don’t know whether people say things to be cruel, nosy, or just not thinking, but it is unacceptable. I had never thought about the Happy Memorial Day phrase until you brought that up, that made me feel a little dumb that I had never thought about that because it is not “happy” losing someone. I have had family members in the wars and military, in fact I was a military wife, but we never had family or friends lives lost . I am sure that during the Civil War there was, but I never knew about that. I am now trying also to not say Happy Memorial Day, I will probably slip, but like you said, we are all human, not perfect and we make mistakes. I love reading your posts even though I rarely comment because I have nothing to add! If you ever quit writing the blog there are so many of us that will be lost reading about your family and life!

  4. Christina Coats

    Wow Jo that was a powerful blog. Thank you for your insight. Have decided to use Maya Angelou’s do better in my next sampler instead of the original verse. I need to see that everyday and try and do better. THANK YOU.

  5. Judith Fairchild

    I totally understand why you bought that cross stitch piece. It covers the whole life of every one. Even those who look and act like they have it all together don’t.
    Years ago there was a beautiful young woman in our church. She had talents plus. She moved in next door to me and we became friends. One day I complemented her on how lovely she was. She stared at me and said ” that’s not what I see when I look in the mirror. We helped each other a lot to get centered in excepting ourselves as is, then working on doing better. Thanks for being honest.

  6. Your blog today is beautiful Jo. We all say graceless things, every single person. Thanks for reminding us to be more careful in what we say in the future.

  7. Your post is so insightful and honest and I love that about you and your family. As always you inspire me to do better an be better but forgive myself for my mistakes. I do believe we will all be perfect when we join our god in heaven.

  8. Good column. Thank you. A few days ago a friend on Facebook asked “If you could go back and live your life differently, would you?” I was really surprised at how many responded, “I would change nothing.” “No regrets.” Not so for me. I have many woulda, coulda, shouldas, words said or not said, actions taken or not taken. Some regrets cannot be changed of course (like finish graduate school before we started a family instead of doing it gradually over many years while the kids were young), but others have made me aware of daily changes I can still make (like biting my tongue when my opinion would make no positive or important difference).

  9. Oh so true Jo, all of it. When we know better, we do better. I will add a few:

    Me: My Mom died yesterday. Her: she’s in a better place. Um, gee wowser. I know my Mom is in Heaven with her Lord. I’m glad she is. But right now, I’m angry sad and devastated and this doesn’t help one bit cuz you sound happy for her. How about “I am so sorry”. Now that feels caring and supportive.

    When Dad was dying of his lung cancer, we were having one of those chatty days. He said “I wish everyone could know how I feel right now. But I know that’s not possible”. He was speaking to me. He knew I was still smoking. 15 months later I was able to quit for good. (Dad smoked for 50 years and 3 of us girls are RNs and 2 of us had a smoking history).

    Best advice I can offer to anyone: If you’re in a situation and you don’t know what to say “I don’t know what to say” is a wonderful acknowledgement of what I just said and you invite me to talk with you more. It tells me you heard me and you can’t walk in my shoes.

    Keep on bloggin’ Jo. You are a wonderful gift of humanity to us all :-)

    1. At age 81 I have lost most of the most meaningful people of my life. (Still have children and many younger family and friends.) I have found the best thing to do when someone is hurting is just to be there and say I’m so Sorry or nothing at all. Just be there.

  10. I have always appreciated the posts that you write like these. They are so good and always food for thought. I’m glad that you shared your thoughts on grieving, as close friends of ours recently lost their son in a motorcycle accident. I’ve shared with them some of the things that you shared with us. We’ve talked about the ‘ball in the box’ analogy many times. I thank you for sharing your life the way that you do. It does help!

  11. Yes, yes, yes!!! My sentiments exactly but with different events. My mouth has unintentionally hurt people. It’s taught me to give grace to those whose words hurt me. This chart is in my que for that reason. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing such an important topic.

  12. Good, Better, Best, Don’t let it rest,
    Until your good gets better and your better gets best!
    Similar to Maya Angelou’s comment, I had this on my refrigerator when my kids were growing up. It took them some time until the understood what it meant.

  13. Helen Reimers

    Thanks for the thought provoking comments. Sometimes it is better too just keep your mouth shut. That hurts no one. I like you have not always done that but I am learning. Trying to do better.

  14. Good, Better, Best, Don’t let it rest,
    Until your good gets better and your better gets best!
    Similar to Maya Angelou’s comment, I had this on my refrigerator when my kids were growing up. It took them some time until they understood what it meant.

  15. Well said! We all slip sometimes – we are all human, after all. The best we can do is to try to do better from here on. Sometimes we don’t know enough about a situation to warrant a comment – a generic “I’m so sorry” or something that fits the situation is often best.
    Off-hand remarks can hurt and I try to consider the source or situation. Like you, I have heard a LOT of nasty comments during the election cycle (and still do!) – and have seen friendships ruined or at least diminished. Unfortunately, some folks just don’t engage the brain before running their mouths.

  16. Thanks Jo, for your thoughtful insights. I have sometimes said the wrong thing especially in my younger days. I have learned that a hug can say so much.

  17. When my daughter was pregnant with my grandson and not married, I had a lady tell me that I should throw her out of the house. I will never forget how that made me feel. She is my daughter and I would never do that. I love her and my wonderful grandson. They are both blessings to me.

  18. Margaret in North Texas

    My thoughts are same as Gail’s–/remember to engage your brain before your mouth. Jo I always love hearing your thoughts on all matters.

  19. There is so much wisdom in this blog post. It speaks for many of us, I’m sure, as it does me…times I wish I could take back my actions, my words or my judgements…but can’t. All I can do is look ahead, and like you, do better—because life hands you dancing shoes for a reason—it will give you a few turns on the dance floor—some of them good turns, some of them not-so-good. The whole point is to think of others, and even when I’ve totally said the dumbest thing…fix it, apologix for it, or promise not to do it again…or at least try.
    Oh, the flaws…we share many—but it has made me the person I am, and I get better as I go. Thank youfor letting us all see outselves in your words, it sure gives us a reason to smile! Thank you! Bev

  20. Jo, I’ve been reading for years and don’t know that I’ve ever commented, but this post really touched my heart. Thank you. I’m in a different situation. My son and daughter in love have decided not to have children. After the first year of their marriage they joked about kids and I said, “Look, tell me if you don’t plan to have kids so I don’t have to wonder and can accept it and can tell people when they ask.” They told me, I accepted it and now when people make snarky remarks about it I can tell them that it was their choice and it’s fine with me. My older daughter struggled with fertility, had two difficult pregnancies, almost bled out with each birth and was told not to have more, so I have two beautiful granddaughters. My younger daughter has also decided not to have children for health reasons. I feel blessed to have my granddaughters. On a funny note, my husband and I met at our 5 year high school reunion in November of 1984, got engaged on New Year’s Eve and got married in July of 1985. Everyone thought we got married so quickly because I was pregnant…must have been a long pregnancy because our first wasn’t born until the end of 1987! :) No one thought it would last. This year we’re celebrating our 36th wedding anniversary and have outlasted my siblings marriages. The naysayers just never know! Like I said, your post really touched me and got my mind working…thanks!

  21. Such a heartfelt post. Another thought, such as I have experienced is the question I get asked frequently is do you have any grandchildren yet and the answer is no. I have a group of friends that I go out for lunch with and the conversation always turns to the grandchildren and the amazing things that the grandchildren are doing etc. etc. etc and I can only just sit there and listen. So for me I can certainly relate to all the young women and men who would love to be parents but can’t about having a child or in my case not having any grandchildren. At the luncheons with my friends I just keep smiling and don’t say a word but inside my heart is breaking just like all the young couples that aren’t able to have a child. I do enjoy my neighbors grandchildren however.
    One thing I have enjoyed was teaching classes for unwed mothers and fathers. Many of these students would call me to come to the hospital to see their babies and of course I would clean up and go to the hospital to see this precious new life. This has been one of my joys as a teacher.
    Keep up with your blogs Jo. These blogs have given me something to reflect upon.

  22. Excellent post, Jo. Thanks for sharing that Maya Angelou quote. I love it!
    I cross-stitched that same saying, except it was by a different designer, Hinzeit. I also have the Kathy Barrick chart and would like to stitch it someday, too.
    I, too, have said and done some regretful things over the years, many when I was young and dumb. I like to think I have learned from the past and do better as I mature and age, but then I find myself “learning” something new. I think life is a continuous learning process. I just try really hard not to beat myself up over the woulda, coulda, shouldas.

  23. This is a fantastic blog post!! I absolutely agree with everything you said. I too, have made these mistakes and have learned through the years. My daughter struggles with infertility and people are so cruel with their words, even family members. People just don’t get it!! I have also learned that people fertility is none of my business!! NONE! And having a child does not define you as a person or couple! Thank you for your wise words. I wish all would come to these same conclusions, that its best to listen rather than comment if you don’t have all the facts.

  24. I love reading your blog everyday because you show us your life as it really is with all of your ups and ughs. Sometimes I read other blogs with their seemingly perfect home, perfect children, perfect live and I get discouraged. I read yours and I feel encouraged to make a donation quilt, try a scrappy quilt, clean out my pantry, spend a day with my daughters or put together a dream playset for a fraction of the cost of buying it new. I also enjoy reading your thoughts on Memorial Day and other subjects that give us new ideas to reflect on. But most of all, I notice how you and your family love and support each other through thick and thin. Thank you and keep on blogging!

  25. thank you. the Maya Angelou saying is terrific. Our second granddaughter is Down Syndrome and we got to hear all the questions about what our son and daughter-in-law must have done or been doing to make God punish them like this. The relationship the two girls have is beautiful beyond words.(both adults now)
    Sometimes I shudder when I wonder about the careless comments I may have made.
    Thank you for all the great teaching moments you bring to us

  26. Jo, thank you for such a heartwarming piece. You are so good with words and your honesty comes through, always. I, too, try hard each day to do better.

  27. I too struggled with infertility and twenty years after being told it would never happen, I discovered that I was pregnant. Our daughter was born with a disability and people used to come up and tell us how sorry they were, which would make my blood boil. Yes, she has learning delays but to us she is perfect and we raise her as we would any child. We don’t dwell on or label her by her disabilities and encourage people to get to know her before passing judgement.

  28. I was a teenage mom in the 70’s. The number of rude comments were amazing.

    I’ve always been overweight. Ugh, the comments. Some horrible, some well meaning, but just as hurtful.

    My son is gay and my daughter married a black (his terminology of choice) man and has biracial children. Insensitive comments continue.

    Even worse than insensitive comments, both of my children have been in situations that either did, or could have, caused them bodily harm. Just last year, my daughter was driving down the street, surrounded by a mob, and her car hit with hammers and crowbars to the point of totalling it.

    Along with being overweight, I also have some invisible health issues. I am disabled and park accordingly. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard, “she’s just fat, not really disabled”, “if you’d just lose weight, you’d be fine”, etc. Believe me, if I could, I would.

    Thank you for this blog post. Any time you can raise awareness, it’s an opportunity to teach and to learn.

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