Thursday, February 27, 2014

And the battle rages on...

I've been seeing these articles about people, particularly fathers, singing the praises of SAHM's, and recognizing how hard of a job it is popping up.  I've also been seeing a lot of articles about how rough working mom's have it popping up.

What bothers me about these sorts of things is that I feel like the authors are just trying to say that for whatever reason, their situation is harder than the other side's.  They're working harder.  They're suffering more.  They're spread thinner.  Whatever it is they've decided to focus on makes it harder for them to be a good parent than the other side, and because they're overcoming that it means they're a better parent.  Especially better than the other side, who clearly has it WAY easier.

Even the ones from the dads saying how wonderful their wives are bug me because they're doing the same thing - they're saying, "Hey, look what my wife is doing - she's a better parent than yours!"  I appreciate the sentiment that these husbands love their wives and are telling the world how much they value them and what they do, but I don't appreciate them saying that what they're doing makes them a better parent.

Here's the deal - parenting is hard.  Parenting is hard if you're a SAHM.  Parenting is hard if you're a SAHD.  Parenting is hard if you're a working parent.  Parenting is hard no matter what your situation is.

We've gotten to this place in the world, and especially with parenting, where it seems the more you suffer for your kids the better parent you are.  The harder it is, the more you overcome, the more you struggle, the better you are as a parent and a person.  That's what these articles seem to be encouraging, and I find it to be offensive.

We should definitely be proud of accomplishing something that was a challenge, I'm not saying that we shouldn't.  What I'm saying is that we shouldn't put MORE VALUE on someone's experience because they struggled with it, especially when it comes to something that is hard across the board - like parenting.

I feel like it takes the joy out of the job.  You should ENJOY parenting your children.  You shouldn't be focusing on how hard it is, or how your situation is harder than someone else's.  Make the best of your own personal situation instead of writing a novel on how difficult it is for you.  It's difficult for everyone, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that as bad as you think you have it, someone out there has it a million times worse.

Parenting is not a competition, as much as it pains me to say that, because I love me some competition.  And it's certainly not a competition to see who has it harder.

These sorts of things just fuel the fire and further the divides between all of us as parents.  Instead of trying to prove that you're somehow a better parent than me because of XYZ let's try to find some common ground.  Do you love your kids?  Me too! Do they drive you crazy sometimes?  Me too!  Do you sometimes feel totally overwhelmed and like you're screwing them up?  Me too!  Would you walk through hell and back if it meant your kid was happy?  Hey, me too!  Look at that!

Every family has a different situation, and every family has decided to parent in the way that is best for them. What is perfect for my family might be the worst possible situation for yours, and vice versa.  That doesn't mean that we're doing it wrong and you're doing it right - that means that our families are different and have different needs and we are addressing them as best as we can.

We're all doing the best we can when it comes to our kids, let's not try to make it about who's doing the better best.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Negative Nancy

Obviously having kids changes you.  That's like, the biggest "no shit" statement ever.

One of the major ways having kids has changed me is that I've come to realize there are people who are just Negative Nancy's, and I've decided I have no time for their nonsense and drama.  I don't have a lot of free time (shocking, I know) and what free time I do have I want to spend with people who appreciate their lives and what they have and want to be happy.  I want my kids to be happy, and I want them to grow up not focusing on the negative stuff in life but the positive.  

I know, super cliche, but it's true.  And it's harder than it sounds.

Turns out, the world is full of Negative Nancy's.  Turns out MY LIFE was full of Negative Nancy's.  

The main problem with people like that is that they somehow manage to suck you into their world of negativity.  You find yourself complaining and bitching and moaning and stirring up the drama pot and you don't realize it right away.  The smallest problem becomes a huge issue.  A meaningless interaction becomes the focus of hours of thought.  You end up wasting so much time and energy bitching about shit that doesn't matter.  And then eventually, the bitching becomes your default attitude.  You LOOK for the negative.  Sure, you don't realize you're doing it, but you are.  And other people realize it.  Soon there's nothing that's good enough, and nothing that makes you happy because all you see is shit that sucks.  You're judging everyone and everything and hating every second of life.  That's a pretty crappy way to live.

It's hard to get out of that world.  Trust me, I was there.  It was partially my own fault - I have a natural tendency towards "bitch" that makes it easy for me to hate everyone and everything at the drop of a hat.  But part of it was some of the people in my life.  There were family members, close friends, and acquaintances that were pulling back into Negative Nancy Land and sucking me into their drama.  

Once I realized what was going on I realized that's now how I wanted to live my life.  That's not how I wanted my kids to live THEIR lives.  It was time for a change.

Turns out, changing myself was the easy part.  There's a fine line between Bitch and Negative Nancy but I think I figured it out and can cheesily "look on the bright side" while still retaining the natural ruthlessness and snark that those around me love so much.  There's being happy and bitchy and then there's being judgy and whiny.  It's a subtle difference, but an important one.  

I complain less.  I bitch less.  I'm not on the lookout for drama and trouble as much.  I see the bright side of things more.  I laugh more.  

I'm happier.  It's good - for me AND for my family.

The problem is that while I was able to change, there were still Negative Nancy's in my life.  I tried keeping them at arm's length.  I tried getting them to see the bright side of things.  I tried telling them to just plain shut up, and that I didn't want to hear their complaining. 

It did no good.  They were firmly planted in that world.  And I get it - I was there too, it's hard to escape that mentality.  It really is.  But I really wanted no part of it anymore.

I ended up having to cut people out of my life.  Family members and friends.  I decided that my happiness and the happiness of my family was more important than some relationships.  If a relationship is sucking more out of you than it's giving you it's time to cut the cord.  It's not easy, it's painful, it's not something done on a whim, but sometimes it's what needs to happen.  And those Negative Nancy's were certainly draining me, and having a negative effect on my family.  I let them change my attitude and outlook on life and since that's something that I struggled with and clearly couldn't compartmentalize, they had to go.  It hurts, but in the long run I think it's for the best.

Sometimes you need to be selfish and stop thinking about what others might feel or think and do what's best FOR YOU.  For some of us that's a hard thing to do, but I'm glad I did.  The decision to cut out the Negative Nancy's has made me a better person, and a better mom.