You can listen to the NPR audio for this post HERE.
By Heather Curlee Novak
Sometimes I think I am pretty important. I spend my days with two Tiny Girls who think THEY are pretty important. At times this causes a bit of a conflict and I'm not sure who whines the loudest about it. If you want to see just how messed up you are and how out of control of life you can be, have a few kids. Every flaw is exposed as you try to raise them to be good folks: "Don't talk with your mouth full" quickly proved to me that I myself need to be taught this lesson. FAST. Do you know how hard it is to tell your toddler not to talk with their mouth full when your mouth is in fact full of food??? Selfish power struggles with a toddler while an infant cries can drive the strongest Mama straight into the potato chip bag headfirst. Stay at home mamas don't get overweight from having children, it is from trying to raise their children!
I have struggled to maintain the peace and raise my girls well, but the stress of my days often means by the end of each one I am not the sweetest woman to be around. I often hurl the myriad challenges of my day at my husband as soon as he walks through the door. Sometimes dinner isn't made and the house looks like a toy bomb went off and I feel guilty about it. When I try to explain how the day went down I think it is a lot more like complaining than anything helpful.
I started reading a fabulous book by Gretchen Rubin called “The Happiness Project”. In it she accounts for all the sources of happiness available to us and she attempts to try her version of them during her year long project. The book and her blog have been helpful to me. I am trying to find new sources of happiness and pleasure as my life changes via having children. Gone are cocktails out on the town(I can barely finish a glass of wine nowadays!), hello collapsing on the couch in front of the boob tube after kids are in bed. There has to be more to my life and complaining about it is not improving the situation.
A recent church service I attended had one point I have carried with me through the week; Meet others needs even when mine aren't met. Our natural inclination is to under serve others if our needs aren't met. To not bother helping someone else when we are so tired, worn out and used up from daily life. Instead, we should look to serve someone who needs a little help. This will get the focus off of ourselves and onto the good we create for someone else. I really like this idea and it has helped me many times to gain a healthier perspective on my current tiny woes.
This is not to say we don't need to take care of ourselves. We do. But maybe instead of focusing on where our life is lacking, instead of complaining about all the little deaths within our days, we can fill ourselves up by serving someone else. Complaining is an energy drain for both the complainer and the complainee. The satisfaction from doing it is short lived and nothing ever changes because of it.
If you hear me (or yourself) whining beyond what is tolerable, do as my husband did just this morning: put us in a time out until we have a change of attitude. Sitting on the hall bench next to my daughter’s timeout chair is a fast reminder that while my needs are important, my Complaint Department needs to be closed. Is your Complaint Department open? To complain simply proves how ungrateful I am. This is not what I want to teach my girls, or how I want to live my daily life. How about you?