This happens every year. I used to call it being a "baseball widow." I remember using that phrase in conversation on a regular basis.
I don't know why, but those words popped into my head a couple weeks ago when I started thinking about baseball, and I realized that I couldn't stomach using that phrase anymore. This is because my friend Wendy is a real widow, and while being a baseball widow can be a pain sometimes, I am now keenly aware that being a real widow is a whole different ballgame (yes, pun intended). Using that word to describe myself (even in jest) now feels wholly distasteful and somewhat disrespectful.
|Seeing as how I just found this picture online, |
I'm thinking I'm not the only one who has said this.
So it's funny that I had been thinking that because this weekend she and I were texting about baseball and she said something about how she almost called me a "baseball widow," but it now felt inappropriate. I told her I had been thinking the exact same thing.
Fast forward to today when, after hearing my husband's packed schedule, she said that on second thought, I should totally have permission to use that phrase.
It was humorous. She is such a good sport, and a great friend. Regardless, I won't ever use that phrase again. I feel yucky even thinking about it.
Tonight I was pondering this as I was cleaning up from dinner (because I am always pondering something) and it made me wonder how many times I had used that phrase in conversation with a woman I didn't know well. I wonder if any of them were widows, and if my quippy comment had, unbeknownst to me, struck a nerve or brought back a sad moment (or made me sound incredibly shallow/ungrateful/insensitive).
It reminded me of last summer when I was making idle conversation with another mom at the baseball field and I asked her what her husband does. She said, in a moment of bluntness that I could not have anticipated, that he "does" his 25-year old girlfriend.
Oops. Oh man. She apologized quickly for dumping on me, but I just as quickly told her that I was the sorry one. Why did I assume they were married, just because I had seen him around before? Why did I not notice that she didn't have a wedding ring on? Sure, maybe in most circumstances I would have been fine in assuming this, but I wasn't this time. It just goes to show how quickly, in my effort to be friendly and social, I can put my foot in my mouth. And if I have done that, have I put my foot in my mouth too when it comes to widows? It's entirely possible.
I am certainly not going to beat myself up about it, because beating yourself up is silly - but I will allow it to affect how I speak, and behave, in the future.
One of the great things about being in relationships with other people is that it can cause you to become sensitive to something that you may have not thought of previously. Because of relationships, I'm swearing off any careless or inaccurate use of the word widow, or the assumption that children have two living parents (and for-the-love-of-all-things-sacred, please keep this in mind this Mother's and Father's Day!), or the assumption that a woman with children is at least somewhat happily married (even when their father is sometimes present). And maybe you've never made these careless assumptions, but I am pretty sure I'm not the only occasionally insensitive clod out there, so there might be other ones you have made without even realizing it too.
Anyway, maybe it's not terribly profound, but it's worth thinking about.