Friday, February 4, 2011

Whiners Unite!

I'll admit it. I'm a bit of a whiner. When things are bad, they are really, really bad. A hangnail will ruin my day. Okay, not really, but those suckers hurt!

One of the pitfalls about whining is that you invariably hear about someone who has it worse. And then, not only are you having a hard time but then you feel guilty about having a hard time. Which is hard.

But I do think it's important to get out of ourselves a little and remember that as difficult as something may be for us, someone else always has it harder.

For instance, you may have noticed me mentioning once or twice on here that my son was a terrible sleeper for about the first year (or you may have noticed my PTSD-like flashbacks whenever a conversation about infant sleep ensues).

But I was sincerely humbled when I interviewed a woman the other day whose daughter was born eight weeks premature. Even after she got home from the NICU, to ensure that their baby girl was still breathing with her underdeveloped lungs, the husband and wife had to take turns waking up ever half-hour to check her breathing. For the first few months.

Not only did I realize maybe Landon wasn't so bad after all, I was also immediately thankful that I had such a hard time with his sleep - because that meant that there was nothing more important than that that I had to worry about.

There are so many instances that I can point to like this. The fact that my husband's work schedule is ridiculous and sometimes we don't see him for days. Then I find out that my brother has had to travel for work extensively for the last couple of years, leaving my sister-in-law home alone with her three kids for weeks at a time. But then even she will say that she's at least grateful she's not a military wife.

Or Maria Hunte, whom I interviewed for a story about adoption for Columbus Parent Magazine. She opened her home to five teenaged girls so they could have a family. She now has six daughters - mostly teenagers. One has reactive attachment disorder. She wants to adopt more. She doesn't have many resources except those that come from her heart.

Suddenly my frustrations with my one toddler son didn't seem like such a big deal.

I don't mean to invalidate anyone's hardships. Nor do I advocate a cease-fire of the whine wars. I fully intend to continue whining. I deserve to continue whining. Why? Because pain is relative. What's hard for one person may be easy for another and vice versa.

But instead of seeing another's hardship and guilting ourselves for being a wuss (I'm really hoping it's not just me), I think that what we do need to do is take strength from others and what they go through.

"If she can do ______ then I can definitely do _______!"

If she can handle a child with a life-threatening condition, maybe I can think (THINK!!) about maybe possibly having another baby. Before I'm 60.

If she can be independent enough to be a single mom for weeks or months at a time, then I can figure out how to unclog the disposal by myself.

If she can open her heart to five kids that she don't share her blood then I guess I can still love Landon after he smears yogurt all over my freshly cleaned windows. And then draws on the cat. And then eats her food. Then throws it up.

Yes, I can do it. But don't worry - you'll hear about it later.


  1. its so true- as soon as i start whining to my mom, she reminds me that she put a husband thru med school, residency, and the army and desert storm and somalia. i guess it just matters who you whine to :)

    unclogging the disposal, fixing the printer, taking out the trash... i totally feel your pain. i've done my fair share of man jobs since residency started. but right when i start to feel sorry for myself, i remember that there are many ladies who do it all because they have to. then i tell myself to grow up. but growing up stinks sometimes.

    glad you were able to interview M! can't wait to see your article!

  2. You're a journalist! I'm loving this! Please post all of your interviews. I'm so interested! In fact in one of my classes I brought up the stats on SIDS, you would have been proud.

    I'm happy for this post...mostly because all I want to do lately is whine.

    Then certain people make children make cards...
    and all is well with the world!!:)

  3. Wow--how insightful and so true. I miss you Debbie!

  4. I loved this post. Wish I had read it earlier.

    It is so true that pain is relative. Just because you know someone who is going through something extremely horrible doesn't mean that your own challenges aren't really hard. It's a good thing to know.

    You are a great writer, Deb.