Sunday, July 7, 2013

The ever-present tearing down of happiness.

I recently posted about how easy the transition from one baby to two children was for me and received quite a bit of negative feedback for it, and it left me thinking.  As a writer for several blogs, I spend quite a bit of time reading other people's blogs and written work.  Frequently, I see posts venting about children, spouses, and work life.  Not that there's anything wrong with that - because there isn't.  But the responses I saw to posts venting about children or otherwise always seemed to be filled with reassurance, understanding, and support.  When a writer posts about how well things are going?  Not quite so much.

In my own life, I've learned to do things the way that works for us.  Each and every single day- heck and sometimes each and every moment- I make a conscious choice.  I choose to be happy.  I choose to look at that screaming baby and see just how much she loves me and needs my comfort, instead of thinking that she is draining the life out of me ounce by ounce all night long.  I choose to look at the toddler who is in the middle of a tantrum- hitting, kicking, and screaming on the floor- and see how tired, hungry, or overstimulated he is and calmly work with him to meet that need.  I consciously make that choice in every moment to see the good in my children and to encourage that good, instead of punishing the bad, labeling them as terrible, or losing it over every tear and having to lock myself in the bathroom.

Just because I approach my life in this way doesn't make me any better than anyone else though.

It just makes me, me.

I wasn't always like this, either.  There have been a lot of times in my life where I nit-picked every single detail.  Where every part of something drove me nuts, made me lose my cool, or sent me into a tizzy.  Heck, some parts of my life still function in this capacity.

But I'm phasing them out, slowly, because living like that wasn't healthy for me, and my constant choosing to be happy has proved to be a much better quality of life for myself and my family.

The problem with all of this?  Our society.

The undercurrent of labeling a mommy blogger who only focuses on the positives as a sanctimommy is just the start of it.  We live in a culture that just loves to push, shove, and drag people down.  From the tabloids picking apart every single piece of a celebrity's life to a few coworkers snickering and talking about someone behind their back- it's everywhere.

When a person publicly expresses their happiness, their content, or the calm in their lives, our culture is to break it- and them- down.  Which makes it okay for mom bloggers to express their discontent at children, spouses, or work life, but not okay for them to enjoy every second of it and be happy with how they are doing.  The double standard is almost constant.

A friend of mine recently told me that she harbors some jealousy in regards to just how much I actually enjoy motherhood, but she was able to say it in a kind, peaceful way.  She went on to mention that she feels it has no relation to how I express my comfort with parenting, but that she feels it has to do with her own underlying feelings of inadequacy.  She ended the thought by noting that those feelings are something she takes ownership of and mainly have nothing to do with me.

The conversation left me thinking for a long while, as I wasn't sure how to process those statements.  I did re-read a few of my posts and think carefully about my tone of voice, but also thought about situations like that in my own life.  There are many, many people whom I envy for one reason or the other, and in the past, I may have viewed this differently than I do now because of my amazing friend's admission to me.  Now?  Each time I find myself feeling envious of someone else, instead of tearing that person down in my head, I try and recognize that my thoughts and feelings are coming from my personal inadequacies and have absolutely nothing to do with the person in question.

It has also made me feel a bit more free in my expression of my own parenting style and the person I am through the blog and my writing.  Whenever I see angry or mean comments on my posts or through my email {the true measure of making it as a blogger nowadays, sadly}, I recognize that these people probably don't really have ill will toward me personally, they may just have a few unresolved issues within themselves, just like I do and just like I'm trying to work on myself.

Going forward, I'm promising myself that if I see upset comments and I feel that my tone has been appropriate, that I'm no longer going to give people the slack to make me feel bad about who I am and how I operate.  I'm happy with my life and the way that I do things, even as I continue to work on me as much as I can.

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  1. You've been blessed with two awesome kids and I think you should take some of that credit, I really do admire you as both a woman and a mother. But there are some people out there, I will include myself in this to some extent, who love their kids to death but feel like they are drowning on a daily basis. I do my best to smile
    when all I want to do is scream and try to figure out why they are upset but, when these situations are consuming nearly all of your waking hours, you just get to a point where there is no light at the end of the tunnel anymore. And, at least for me, it makes me feel like a total failure as a mother.

    Now, it's never ok for one parent to criticize another. I think that the great majority of us are doing our best but, sometimes, your best just doesn't feel good enough. And so you see a someone having a really great experience and you can't help but compare your hurricane to their oasis.

    We need to be good to ourselves and to others, to recognize that each of our experiences are a bit different. As long as we are doing your best, even if it's a struggle to survive past bed time, we are good mothers. But it's always a good idea to remember that, when another woman tries to knock you down, know that there is a good chance that she needs to be lifted up.

  2. Good crap that was all over the place. Sorry.

    1. That made perfect sense, and I'm really glad you posted it. Your last sentence is an awesome thought, and will be really important to recognize as well.

  3. I LOVED this post, and I personally enjoy reading your positive posts. As a mom of a toddler expecting a baby in September, reading your posts about the transition from one to two helped me realize it wasn't necessarily going to be the "doom and gloom" that you read so many other places. So, thank you for that!

  4. You are an amazing mom and woman. I love your positive outlook and even though two of my kids are older than yours, I take to heart some of your outlooks to help myself be more patient and try to turn my point of view.

  5. As posted above, I, too, love your positive outlook. One of the greatest reaaons I read your blog. You love being a mother without putting on a mask or a show to proove it. Sometimes when I have a hard day for whatever reason, I read a post of yours and it puts me into a better frame of mind, an "I can make it because I love it so much" mentality. It is hard sometimes for me not to take what others say to heart. But this post alone has such great value and spells out a lesson I need to learn: to disregard the negativity of our society and not let it overwhelm me or my family. Thank you, Jayne! :)

  6. Yes! I don't get why some people just feel the need to shred others just b/c they are happy/successful and expressing it. good for you for addressing it.

  7. I guess I haven't "made it" as a blogger yet as I have yet to receive hate mail then! :) I have had some hurtful comments, but looking through it...I've gotten why they have said what they said. I'm more a "share the good, the bad, and the ugly" kind of blogger. I have rough days, but I definitely share more good than bad. I like to keep it real because there are certainly days where I didn't win at motherhood, but most days I feel I did pretty good.

    I guess no matter what you do, you're going to offend someone. Is that your fault? Absolutely not - it's theirs because of their own inadequacies, as you already said. If I post about breastfeeding I don't care that you formula feed. I don't think I'm better than you. If I blog about my faith and you don't? Same thing. Some people go looking for people (bloggers) to rip apart because it's the only good thing about their day.


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