We all get tired, stressed, sick and sore. Being a parent doesn’t mean you have a monopoly on these things. If people who don’t have kids feel these things, it’s totally valid! Let them speak without making it about you! This is guest post written by Bryony Sumner.
Too Much Sleep? What’s that like?
I was making a cup of tea at work the other morning when I overheard a young lad yawning and telling his mate that he thought his problem was that he was just getting “too much sleep”. Making him groggy, you see. Poor lamb.
It was all I could do not to stuff my used teabag up his nose in a fit of jealousy.
Too much sleep. Ha!
I heard myself guffaw and just as I was about to make a smart comment about not sleeping since 2014, when I got a tap on the shoulder from my younger self and a memory from about 5 years ago.
It was pre-children and I was at the cinema with some girlfriends talking about what a tearjerker the movie was. I had just mentioned that I tend to cry at toilet paper adverts if there are cute puppies involved when a parent friend of mine told me to “JUST YOU WAIT” until I had kids and then see what it’s like to cry!
I was confused. And irritated. And was later taken aside by another childless friend who told me if I ever had children, I had to promise to never, ever to say the words ‘You’ll understand when you’ve got kids!’
I have tried to hold up my side of the bargain, but I’m pretty sure I’ve slipped up along the way somewhere. It’s just so damn hard not to constantly talk about my boys, seeing as how they took over my life almost 3 years ago and have held me hostage ever since!
I learned recently that there’s actually a name for this (of course there is- that I’m surprised is really the only surprising thing here!) It’s called ‘mommyjacking’ and it is apparently rife on social media.
This conversation-hijacking technique isn’t saved exclusively for parents though; such “oneupmanship” is an unattractive and annoying habit in all walks of life. You’ve got a headache? Your colleague gets migraines, you should try that one day. Broken your toe? Your Facebook friend broke their leg last year and that hurts a lot more. Oh, your boss is horrible to you? Big deal, your cousin’s boss beats the staff with a stick when they mess up, so count your blessings!
Alright, maybe I’m exaggerating a little but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Some people like to act as if they own emotions, or pain, or illness and it’s a bit irritating. Not to mention unkind.
Comparison is unhelpful
We can never fully understand how another person is feeling, not even if we’ve been there ourselves. We can empathise and listen but comparing is very rarely helpful. I’m not sure that telling someone to pull their proverbial socks up has ever sorted out a problem. ‘Oh dear you’ve been unemployed for 5 years now, have you? In that case I’m positively cheerful about being fired! Thanks for the input!’
I go on a LOT about how tired I am. I’ve posted on Instagram about it, I’ve written about it, I talk about it in my sleep and yes, it’s almost become an obsession. Yes, I’m tired but I have good reason to be and I’m pretty, sure some time soon, I’ll get some rest again.
A few years ago, I was living in Sydney. I was working a 9-5 job and had a very easy lifestyle. No extra curricular activities, nothing too demanding, early nights, relaxing weekends. And yet, I could barely pull myself out of bed in the morning. I could hardly see the words on my computer screen because my eyes were sooo tired and each lunch break, rather than eating, I would go and lay down in the park and sleep for half an hour as I was so exhausted.
I have never felt anything as debilitating as I did then. The doctor said I was fine. It went on for months and I can still feel the desperation when I look back on those times. There was no good reason for me to feel the way I did and I never did discover the reason for it- but I would take ‘mum tired’ me over ‘mystery tired’ me any day of the week. And this is why I am glad I held my tongue when the young lad at work was lamenting his lethargy.
We’re all fighting our own battles
We all have different struggles and different triumphs, but as Einstein said, if we judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree it will spend it’s whole life thinking it is stupid.
Same thing here, when you ‘mommyjack’ (or perhaps ‘parentjack?’ After all, Dads do it too!!) someone else’s problem. If you belittle someone’s pain or emotion or achievement, you are surely giving them the message that what they are feeling is not worthy. That they are not worthy. To be honest, it doesn’t say much about you either.
Let’s lift each other up, instead. Have a quiet eye roll in private if someone is being unnecessarily precious, sure, but try to make a funny quip or a soothing noise that might make them smile rather than a comment about how you’ve had it worse. You might think such a remark will make you look better than the other person, but I’m certain it will have the exact opposite effect!