I know I am in danger of being crucified for this post, as I was recently in a Facebook argument by someone who told me I had a "severe" (well, she spelled it "serve," but I digress) problem because of my point of view and, verbatim, "Just keep your mouth shut! You are not a parent so you don't know!" So you can read it with that mind (though several mothers read the thread and messaged me after the fact saying they agreed with my sentiments but didn't want to get involved with people who were desperate for people to see how difficult their lives are).
Recently, I saw a post on a mommy blog's fanpage (being a blogger, I do tend to follow a lot of mommy blogs for the purpose of networking and because they do sometimes share useful life tips for even us lowly non-parents) talking about "What Not to Say to Stay at Home Parents." Perhaps I was having a bad day, but the whole "Look at how much I sacrifice for my family, I deserve a medal!" tone of the article really rubbed me the wrong way.
Look, no one is saying parenthood is easy, no matter if you choose to stay at home or work full or part-time. No one is saying that there aren't days when you want to cry into your coffee because all of your kids have pooped their pants at once. And certainly no one is discounting the loneliness stay at home parents can feel or that postpartum depression and anxiety can be debilitating and feel impossible to deal with. There may even be days when you wake up wondering what the hell you got yourself into all of these years ago when you had kids. Sometimes you'll probably need to call your close friends and cry or put up a wry status on Facebook about motherhood so you can commiserate with your friends. My Facebook friends have certainly mastered the art of showing the realities of motherhood, the good and the bad, without making me want to scream...most of this I've seen online in other places and women's magazines and websites which seem to now be bombarded with stories about children. Us women without kids don't matter.
But the full-time complaining on social media and expecting sympathy and accolades for being the busiest, poorest and most worked parent is exhausting to read. Especially because if anyone questions it, especially a non-parent, they will just have to "wait until they're parents" because they truly don't know anything about sacrifice or life until they've had progeny of their own.
This martyr complex doesn't just extend to parents. Many people constantly complain over their very privileged positions of going to university or being able to work a 9-5 job. Nowhere was this more prevalent for me than when I was at university and it always seemed like the "busy Olympics," everyone ready to win a gold medal in who has suffered the most by who is the busiest and has the most work to turn in. In reality, many people would give their left arm to go to college, yet we still somehow turn into martyrs.
I understand that there are degrees and levels of suffering and that it certainly is stressful to work 9-5, to raise kids or to take on a degree, but to me, a lot of this complaining sometimes feels like it is rubbing it in people's faces. Because I have lupus and have been unable to do a lot of things many people take for granted (like working 9-5 and still having a life), I do have trouble feeling sympathy for people complaining on a regular basis about their jobs. Likewise, many people are unable to attend college or university due to monetary restrictions, and what of those who are struggling with infertility or have lost a child who are subjected to those constantly telling others what a living hell life is with kids with status after status on Facebook. Or those with disabilities themselves or children with disabilities that make the daily tasks of raising children much harder?
Of course, as I stated before, I am not saying that there aren't times when coping with normal situations aren't difficult. College/university can certainly be stressful, jobs can be rough and there can definitely be situations in these that can be described as toxic. Complaining intermittently is one thing, but when it becomes your whole identity, sometimes you need to look at changing your tune.
Why do we push ourselves to be martyrs? Why do we want constant sympathy for things that people have been doing for generations and without many of the conveniences we have today? Why is there a martyr Olympics, whether it is for work, raising children or simply living life in general? Maybe because I work so much with the Holocaust (where there is also its own version of the suffering Olympics amongst academics and other people who like to quantify and categorize suffering), it is very difficult to see normal life as something so difficult.
What are your thoughts? Am I the worst person on earth?