It’s alarming to me the way I see and hear young mothers in particular speaking about their children and their lives in general. Whether it’s casually flippant complaints in conversation, or long rants over the internet, women seem to be complaining more and more over less and less.
As I pause to consider the possible reasoning behind these expressed thoughts, I truly wonder what the contributing factors are. Could it be the popular portrayal of women in our society as shown through movies, television, and on the covers of countless magazines? Is it the headlines of How to Have it All, Headlines that tell you how you can look younger/thinner/smarter/prettier/…better? How to balance having a career as well as a family. I fully believe these statements do only one thing the moment you read them: They tell you that you’re not good enough. You have to have more, do more, BE more…to be happy. They tell you that you’re not happy where you are right now.
Is it our culture’s addiction to social media? Being constantly plugged in and turned on to incessant notifications you see that “Sally” just ate the world’s best salad, or “Randy” ran 3.46 miles (and you can even view the map). You read these updates and suddenly wish you had eaten the world’s best salad, or you now focus on the fact that you didn’t run today. Now you’re disappointed with yourself, now you’re focusing on how sluggish you’ve been, how much you weigh, how tired you are, etc. Then you go and shove another donut down your throat. All better! Wait…you just made it worse. And then you post: FML.
FML (Fuck My Life) is one of those acronyms I see written far too often for trivial reasons:
“Standing in line at the pharmacy for my son’s prescription for over fifteen minutes, grrr! FML”
“My son keeps asking me to play his stupid game over and over. Twentieth time today. FML”
“My daughter decided to finger paint with her pudding and now I have to shampoo the carpets. FML”
You get the idea, right? Now it may just be me…but I don’t think any of these situations, or others like them call for spelling out on the internet that you’ve had a MINOR setback in your life today and subsequently not only feel the need to complain to everyone you know about it, but also to condemn your very life.
Yes, we all have trials to deal with, and yes, we all have frustrations that plague us. Do things always go right in my day? No. Do I weigh what I want to weigh? Who does? Is my husband always happy with me? Of course (insert sarcastic overtone). Am I a perfect mother? Absolutely not! Just ask my tween (remember my Momster post), she’ll tell you how big of a failure I am if you ask, I’m sure. But I recognize, as a wife, a mother, and a person that things won’t always go my way. I willingly signed up for this job, even with that understanding. The reason is that life is not all about what makes me happy. I am not the center of my world. I have two children, as well as a husband, who, in conforming to the traditional expectation of marriage, that you put your partner above yourself, makes three beings whose happiness is far superior to my own.
It’s not a resignation of happiness, being a mother, it’s a readjustment of expectations and acceptance of situational outcomes. It’s about learning to choose happiness, as well as learning to let go of the weight of the clutter brought into your mind by those previously held expectations, or even the things we see others post online.
I tend to think of it as the “Friends With Better Lives Effect”. When we see someone posting about their great day, the thing their significant other did for them, the vacation they went on, the food they just ate, the run they just took, and so on, we tend to automatically compare ourselves to them. Our lives to theirs. We want what they have. Our deficits begin to form within our own minds and we suddenly feel that we’re at a disadvantage. The problem with this is that it’s like hearing only part of a conversation or seeing half of a picture. Once the rest of the story gets filled in, or the photo is zoomed out, a greater understanding begins to develop, and may not always be as desirable as you first thought.
“Thank goodness there’s a prescription to help my son.”
“I’m glad my son is able to play and asks me to join him.”
“I’m so happy my daughter is able to enjoy her pudding, and is even trying to feed herself!”
Perspective is a powerful weapon in the arsenal against unhappiness.
Never, not once have I ever posted or said FML. Not when my daughter was diagnosed with a rare terminal illness. Not when she went blind. Not when she lost her cognition. Not when she began to suffer from daily seizures. Not when she stopped eating. Not when she died. Do not say or write FML. When you do, you spit in the face of the fact that you are alive and have been granted another day on this earth. A day not to squander, but another chance to make a difference. Your life is a blessing. There are many reasons for trials, and chances are that while you’re enduring them you may not understand any of those reasons. You may never understand those reasons. You may never fully understand their purpose, and their purpose may not even have anything to do with you. No one ever said life would be easy. No one ever signed a contract on your behalf procuring you an obstacle-fee existence in this world.
Do not complain about your children. There are many of us who can never get ours back, and many more who have never had to opportunity to have them in the first place. When we stand in front of you, in life or online, with our empty arms and you complain about the blessings that are your children and your daily life with them, you spit in our faces too.
I am sick of lack luster mothers posting about how they’d rather be out for the night shooting shots with friends at a club or on to the next party, basically anywhere but home. How they need to get away from their kids because they’re driving them insane. How they’re bored and tired of their monotonous lives. To these mothers I say: Grow up. Stop being so selfish. Gain some perspective, if you will. You are right where you need to be. This life is not all about you. Once you made the choice to bring a completely helpless human being into the world, your very own flesh and blood, this life ceased being centered around you and your wants forever. Your happiness isn’t paramount to anyone else’s.
You are NOT entitled to be happy, your children are.
I have never once noted “FML” or its equivalent written or spoken by someone who has the right to say it, someone dealing with a difficult situation and the recipient of many “I can’t imagine”s. I don’t even like hearing the likes of “Thank goodness, I’ll be doing the happy dance when school vacation ends and kids go back”. I am an “old” mom. Not to say that every minute I spend with my child is perfect, but it is not possible to have enough time experiencing this little person. I am sorry for those who don’t have this time with their children, through no choice of their own, and sorry for the children that deserve and need together time and don’t get it. I can hope, though, that someone sees him/herself in your words and changes for the better.