A Comment About Venting v. Complaining

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This guest blog post on Geek In Heels (one of my favorite blogs!) really struck me.   I'll leave it to you to read it if you have the time and desire, but here's the gist:

Basically, it discusses an NPR article about how stinkin' hard parenting is, and how most moms feel totally unprepared for this and surprised that no one warned them. Just as I was nodding in agreement, ready to call all my pregnant friends and give them my top 10 reasons why raising a kid is the most thankless job in the world, the author surprised me.  She said ummm... what?  Isn't the negative, yucky, exhausting side of parenthood all parents ever talk about?  Don't we seem to relish in these nightmarish stories and find instant comraderie with others who will whine with us?  She's sick of all the complaining, and thinks perhaps we need to toughen up and have a more positive outlook on life in general, like our parents' generation.

Here is the comment I left:

"i’m a new mom (baby is almost 10 months) and i’ve been thinking about your post all day- super thought provoking! like another commenter said, people told me all about how physically taxing it would be (heard lots of “sleep now while you can!” when i was pregnant) but i was not really warned about the emotional and spiritual toll motherhood would take on me in the beginning. i was not told about the intense fight or flight response that would surge through me every time baby cried, or the depression that would hit each time the sun went down. when i shared these feelings with parents, they were sympathetic, but didn't quite seem to get it.  when i vented these same feelings with my peers, they totally understood and made me feel validated. so in the beginning, i think my complaining was totally necessary. group therapy, if you will.

BUT when my hormones were back on track and motherhood was becoming my “new normal”, my venting turned into whining. i really think this stemmed from 1) my perfectionism- wanting baby to be/act/sleep perfect, and wanting to be the perfect mom but failing constantly 2)wayyy too much info online making me hyper-aware of everything baby was doing or not doing 3) i’m just a wuss, straight up! i’ve had a relatively easy, comfortable life and motherhood is not easy, or comfortable.

then a few months ago, i stopped whining. like, pretty much cold turkey. my 11 year old cousin was dying of cancer at the time, and I felt it was a slap in his parents’ faces to complain about how “hard” it is to care for my healthy, vibrant baby girl. a few middle of the night wakings is nothing compared to what his parents had to do- comfort him all night long as he vomited, inject medicine into him constantly, and prepare to say goodbye to him for good.  they never lost hope, and they never wallowed in self-pity.  just like that, my whole perspective on motherhood changed. i now enjoy motn feedings, and make sure to kiss baby and stroke her little head while i enjoy the stillness of the night. my cousin is gone, and i know his parents would do ANYTHING to hold him again."

**edit:  I still whine, it's just not my prevailing attitude as a mom anymore, praise the Lord. 
***Siena turns 1 year in just a few days, and when people ask me how motherhood is, I still feel the need to talk about how hard it was in the beginning. If you've followed our journey on this blog, you know that at around 6 months we found our stride, and I started to LOVE motherhood, but I still don't feel genuine if I fail to mention that I did not handle the newborn stage well, AT ALL.  Why can't I just let it go?  My perspective certainly changed after my dear cousin passed away, but the sting of postpartum depression (or my teeny mini version of it) is still fresh.  I really hope that once Siena turns 1, I can look ahead with hope and excitement instead of hold onto the regret I have from the first months.  I guess that's my New Year's Resolution...

Any thoughts on this topic?  Not even related to motherhood, just life in general?


Lacey January 17, 2012 at 8:28 PM  

Oh you KNOW I've got thoughts :-) I see the value in sharing the difficulties of life with trusted friends, who don't just let you wallow. Parenthood has huge sacrifices and difficulties, and to 'just be positive' is a ridiculous notion (not saying the article boils it down to that). And yet, yes, we can forget how good we have it. We can forget that there are thousands of couples who struggle with infertility and would love to have a child wake them in the middle of the night.

I feel similarly about my 'natural birth'. It was a pretty traumatising experience and while I'm so far past it now, I still feel the need to tell people how terrible it was, when I know that it no longer affects my life, and that there are many women who would love to have had a birth like mine, despite the pain levels I experienced. I guess we feel the need to validate to everyone that, "My life isn't perfect either". Or something to that effect.

The long and short of it is that, yes, parents probably complain too much, especially when you consider how devastated we would be to not have our children around to mess things up and wake us up and make us tired. But we also need the support of people around us who see the mundane, the gross, the difficulties of what we do day in, day out, and applaud us and cheer us on. Parenting (and especially being a SAHM) is a bit of a thankless job at times ... I think we want some credit :)

Janet January 17, 2012 at 10:28 PM  

The first 6 months were really hard for me too. At 14 months, I am finally comfortable with all of my new responsibilities. I am able to find some time for myself - and that's made all the difference!

Trista January 18, 2012 at 10:33 AM  

Kristin...I'm so sorry to hear about your cousin...I had no idea you and your family went through such a difficult time! I can totally see how going through something like that would change your perspective on things.

Although I'm not a parent yet I'm fully aware (as I'm sure you already know by my "worries" that I've expressed to you on NUMEROUS occasions! LOL) how hard it is to be a parent! I actually came across an article today that one of my FB friends posted and it actually ties in with what you're talking about here...you should check it out and let me know what you think!


Hanna Lo January 19, 2012 at 10:23 AM  

Hi Kristin! Thanks for the encouraging post :) I'm due in 7 days (!!!) and it's a good reminder that although the road will be tough it will also be so wonderful. :) this helped me to calm my nerves a bit, so thanks!

Post a Comment