Before I get started, I must warn you. I’m putting my Dr. Phil pants on today. Oh yes siree Bob. My Texan drawl is out. My receding hairline is at its finest. I’m channelling the doc and just saying it how it is. Bear with me, I’ll put him away soon!
It’s funny, I’ve been talking to some friends of late, and just seeing what goes on at one of my jobs, and I find we’re all feeling the same way. We’re all feeling like shit, uncertain of ourselves, trying our hardest to do the best job we can. But yet we humans, sometimes feel the need to run each other down. Over anything and everything. As adults we are constantly comparing- diets, exercise, jobs, partners, money we make. Paleo vs CSRIO. HIIT vs Crossfit. Labor vs Liberal. Thermomix vs…. I don’t know, what did we do before Thermie? (jokes, I don’t even own one. But I hear they’re top notch. Or if you listen to the other side they’re shit and a waste of money. See? MORE RUN DOWNS). She did what? He said that? Uggggh. Happens in adulthood as it is, but when you become a parent? Holy dooley. The opinions. The judgement. The criticism. THE COMPETITION. There’s always a fucking competition. Stay at home Mums vs Working Mums. Working part time vs working fulltime. Daycare centres vs. Family day care. Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding. Watching TV vs not watching TV. Girls vs. boys. Baptism vs naming ceremonies. Private vs public schooling. ENOUGH ALREADY. A darling friend of mine put it perfectly recently when we were chatting “I don’t think motherhood and children should be a sport”. Amen sista! I don’t think life in general should be a sport. Being a grown up sucks enough as it is at times, let alone being in constant competition.
You know what I think? I think we’re all shit to a degree (how’s that for an uplifting psych quote? You’re welcome). We all make mistakes. We all choose the wrong option at times. And we all regret some of the shit we might have said or done. But that’s life. And everyone is entitled to live a life that suits them. Want to stay at home and have the ability to do so? Go you. Want to go to work, and you need that for you? Enjoy. If you love breastfeeding, that’s awesome. If you can’t breastfeed, that’s ok too. We might not agree with someone else’s choices but you know what? They’re not our choices! It’s not our life! So let’s try to restrain the urge to broadcast our dispersions in such a public manner, shall we? Or going down the subtle bragging/ramming down others’ throats path when we think we’re the better person. Unless someone is clearly endangering themselves or others, who are we to tell them what to do? And better yet, if we feel we must say something to someone, BE A NICE HUMAN BEING FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. Say it nicely. Use the sandwich approach:
- Start off with your bread-something fluffy, nice and complimentary (“I like how you are always there for others”)
- Then lead in with what your concern is- the meat of the issue. Always start with ‘I feel’. (“But I feel a bit hurt with the things you said to me the other day”) Because it’s just your view. Not fact. Nor anyone else’s problem.
- Finish off with more bread-something fluffy and nice to resolve the issue (“I like that you were trying to help, but maybe if you’ve got an issue with me you could say it in a different way?”)
Done! It’s that easy. I teach 8 year olds to do this and they use it with aplomb. So why can’t we grown-ups? I love sport, I love competition (particularly with my husband. I.will.beat.him). Just not when I’m trying to raise my kids and juggle jobs and home and you know… be a general human being. That wizz bang ½ year birthday party for your friend’s 6 month old that comes complete with powerpoint slideshow, lolly buffet table and personalised monogrammed, handcrafted thank you handbags? You don’t have to match her. The high-powered careerwoman swanning around in her Porsche SUV with perfectly groomed children? You don’t need to be like her. You need to be like you. We’ve all got our own stories. And you know why it’s utterly ridiculous to cast disdain toward others? Because we have no clue about what’s really going on for them.
The pesky helicopter mum who gets on your nerves? Could have PND and is really struggling. And all she might need is someone to ask her how she is.
The stand-offish guy at work who seems rude? He might have severe social anxiety and is contemplating suicide.
The perfectly groomed career Mum who seems to have everything? May be the loneliest, saddest person you know.
The overly-zealous lust-for-lifer that makes you want to gag? She might have just lost her partner to illness is cramming as much into life as possible.
So before you open your mouth and spew forth vitriol about another person, ask yourself: Do I know all the facts here? How would I feel if someone said this to me? Am I prepared for whatever consequence comes my way? And if you’re cool with all of that, then ok then. And if your busting your gut to present a certain image of yourself, is that really who you are? Is that really what you want to be? Because if it’s not, then that’s ok! You can make a change at any time. No one is going to hold it against you. Well, maybe some but they’re just dicks.
We all gripe and bitch and whinge. It’s our thang. And certainly no one’s saying we gotta stop and be mega virtuous and think only of rainbows and lollipops. Doing it in your mind, or quietly confiding in your BFF is one thing. Speaking it aloud, or being a keyboard warrior, is quite another. If we all just chipped in here and there, we could feel a heck of a lot better about things. Try to say something nice about someone you have previously held judgement toward. Reach out to someone you think you have ‘mapped out’ but maybe you don’t. Let’s not make life into a sport, a sport that no one seems to be able to win. We’re all going to end up in the ground eventually, so it doesn’t matter what your path is, we’re all heading in the same direction. Wow, anyone else feel like swigging a bottle of wine and crying in the corner now? Sheesh, brighten up sista! Ok, I’ve shaken the Dr. Phil out now, let’s hug it out, k?
Have you ever experienced the sport of parenthood/adulthood? If you could give one piece of advice on how to navigate it all, what would it be?