Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Can we PLEASE quit catastrophizing everything?

Years ago, I got in trouble on Mama Drama for saying I felt being a mother was easy.  Pretty much everyone jumped my ass over it, and even when I explained--at the time, I had three perfectly healthy, normal kids--no one wanted to let up.  I stuck to my guns, then and now.

Certainly, being a parent isn't easy for everyone, and even those of us who usually have an easy time of it have difficulties now and then, but by & large if it's truly hard and your kids don't have any medical/psychological issues, and there's no huge outside factor weighing in on it, you're probably doing it wrong.*  One of my Facebook friends--she's on Mama Drama too; it's where I know her from--has five kids.  One of them is severely disabled (blind, brain damaged, tube fed) and two have varying degrees of autism.  She gets to complain--and rarely does.  Have you noticed how the people who actually have to deal with big shit usually don't whine?

Now, I typically don't go around telling people "Well, if you think you have it bad, look at these people, they have it much worse!" but on a personal level I do try hard to keep it in perspective. 'Cause I have four robustly healthy, super smart kids who are generally pretty well-behaved, so who the hell am I to complain?

I'll readily admit, it aggravates me when people make a huge deal out of things.  Look, I understand that parenthood isn't all puppy licks and mud pies, and I think it's a good thing to admit that things get out of hand quite a bit.  Really, we're all just pretending we know what the hell we're doing, right?

But there is a difference, a very key difference, between saying "You don't have it all together?  That's okay, neither do I!" and "You think two is bad?  It only gets worse from there!"  And yet, folks love to do that last sort of thing.

Case in point:

Please keep in mind, the woman who posted the original status who jumped into parenting in a big way--in the three years, she's adopted three kids and is fostering a fourth with plans to adopt it too (I say it because I'm not sure if the child is a boy or girl).  She really has no clue what she's getting into.  I suppose most of the replies are intended to be commiserating, but really?  How is it helpful?

Look, in parenting as much as in anything, your expectations will govern your experiences to a large part.  Now, I'm not going all "Law of Attraction" on you here; I'm not saying that you will literally have different experiences based on what you expect.  No, the experiences themselves will happen one way or another.  But your outlook will affect your interpretation of these events.

Seriously, it will.  I am pretty easily annoyed, and my kids know which buttons of mine to push, so my outlook isn't always great.  More than once I've taken the kids out for a meal and by the end of it I'm ready to duct-tape them to the wall, only to have someone come up to me and compliment me on how well-behaved they were.

Yes, two years old is a hell of a time.  Toddlers learn the meaning of no, and how to bug the shit out of you with it.  BUT they also absolutely love babies, they are fairly easy to potty train (IMO)--meaning an end to diapers--they start to talk pretty well (but with those adorable little mispronunciations that you will repeat forever after), they interact with their environment much more, and they're not nearly as dependent upon you.

If you choose to focus on the NONONONONONO!, you will miss the "yef" and you might not notice the absolute wonder in their eyes.  Which would be a crying shame.

*This doesn't mean you're a bad parent.  It probably just means you're looking at it wrong.  Please interpret this in context.

(I know I came off as a bit of a wet blanket in my comment, but I swear to you, it really did make things a lot easier when I discovered lo these many years ago that Bobbie wasn't really trying to drive me insane; she was just doing what every two-year-old does.)


peter d said...

I agree with you the majority of the time and I agree with your premise in this post. However, I don't think all the Facebook messages were as bad as you made them out to be. There were several ''LOLs'' in there and I think it was just your average mom showing frustration and others joking that it's still tough later on. That was my take on it, and I don't know the OP like you do.

Sabra said...

Mm, there's one "lol" in the "they're so bad" comments. It's continued on from there in the hours since, and no one has said a single encouraging thing to her yet.

FWIW, I addressed the issue in my own FB status, and said it would be nice if we'd be supportive instead of saying it just gets worse, & she commented to agree with me...and this is someone who almost never comments on my statuses, so offhand I'm thinking all the "it gets worse!" stung at least a little.

I probably am taking the comments a wee bit too seriously, but honestly, there was not ONE "it gets better", which is just crazy.

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed how the people who actually have to deal with big shit usually don't whine?

Preach it, sister. I see women bitch about "OMG my husband is gone for FOUR DAYS and I'm all alone with my baby!"

Haven't made a peep about my husband's overseas deployment and how I've handled all sorts of fun stuff on my own.