Thursday, October 13, 2005

It's all a matter of perspective

My sister wrote on her blog this morning that she woke up feeling like death warmed over.  The cold she had been trying to outrun had somehow snuck up on her and tagged her, good.

So, as luck would have it, it was her day to get up with the boys, who usually get up with the sun, and always wake up hungry, not just hungry, starving.  So, under much protesting from her body, she got up and attended to the masses, (or actually the two starving boys, who are also under the weather).  

The fact that her husband was still in bed led her to write this:
The fact of the matter is that I'm angry and resentful that other people in my life do not understand what a critical role I play, they don't appreciate it (me,) or if they do, they've taken a vow of silence. Thank you is not something I hear.  My job is not to do the dishes and the laundry and the grocery shopping.  My job is to raise two boys into men.  It's hard work.  Beyond hard work.  The hardest job there is.  And yet, I still get the usual, "What do we have to eat?"  This idiocy of this question is always compounded by the fact that the asker is always standing in front of an open pantry full of food when he asks the question.  "Babe, do I have any clean jeans?"  Yep.  I'm the sole keeper of this information.  "So, do you think you ought to get a job?"  Don't get me started.

So, while I read her blog with a smile on my face, I also found myself lacking in sympathy.  So, it was your day to get up with the boys.  Tomorrow it will be B’s day.  When my kids get up early, it’s me who has to get up with them, always.  When my kids are throwing up all night, it’s me that sleeps sitting up on the couch, sick child in my lap listening for the slightest sound of a gag so I can mad dash to the bathroom with them.  When there are monsters under the bed, it is me that has to brave the dark unknown and scare them away.  When it comes to feeding the masses at my house, it’s always me.  When we need clean clothes, you guessed it, it’s always me.  When it comes to homework, I got it.  When it comes to refereeing arguments, I wear that hat too.  When it comes to judge and jury, I step up to the plate.

So, you have a husband who asks you annoying questions.  At least you have a husband.  If you need a gallon of milk, B can bring one home with him. When I need a gallon of milk, I have to pile 3 kids into the car and drive 5 miles.  When I don’t feel good, there is nobody else around to help with the kids, I have to suffer through the cold and still be everything to them.  When one of them is sick, I always have to miss work and lose a day of pay.  

I wrote her the following:
While I understand your frustration with Lex Luther, I look at it as you really are blessed.  You have a husband who works hard and makes enough money to allow you to stay home with the boys and be mother/teacher/cook/healer/wonder woman.  You are doing a wonderful beautiful job raising magical amazing boys, but you're not doing it alone.
You and B take turns getting up with them in the morning.  I would almost kill for someone to take turns with me to get up and feed the kids.  I have no one.  It  matters not what kind of day I've had, how hard I've worked, what kind of mood I'm in, I have to go home and take care of 3 kids ALONE, with all the demands of homework, book orders, laundry, dinner, dishes, showers and bedtime.  AND try to find a few minutes for myself.  I have no one to cook dinner for me, I have no one to braid the girls hair at night to avoid knots the next morning.  I have no one else who can help a kindergardener, 3rd grader and 6th grader do their homework.  I can't even kill 2 birds with a single stone, as they are all on different levels studying different things.
When I get sick, nobody notices and I know there will be no relief coming later.  I don't have someone to come along and say "Hey, I'll take the kids for a little bit, you get some rest".  When they are sick at night, it's always me.  When there are monsters in their room, it's always me.  When they can't find anything to wear, it's me.  When they don't understand homework, it's me.  When they have a question or a complaint or a complement it's always me.
You may be married to Lex Luther, but you are not alone.  You have help.  You get a break,  You get the option to sleep in sometimes.  Try three kids alone.

So, while she had some legitimate complaints, it was hard for me to sympathize with her because regardless of how hard it is, she still has help.  I, on the other hand, don’t. I was really feeling as if I had failed my kids, that she was a better wife, better mother, better teacher, had smarter kids, and I felt like such a failure next to her.

I realized though, that my feelings were of my own making.  She did nothing except voice her own opinion of her own life as she lives it.    Sure B annoys her, I would be glad to have someone to share my life with.  She probably looks at me as lucky because I don’t have someone always asking me “Do I have any clean jeans?”  or “What’s for dinner?”  I actually have days, and evenings when it is just me in my apartment.  She very seldom gets any free time with no husband or kids.  

The grass always looks greener on the other side, but it still has to be mowed. It’s all a matter of perspective.

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