I have bad days sometimes. Don’t we all? It isn’t that I dislike my life. I am aware of and grateful that I’ve been blessed many times over. I have a wonderful husband who was made for me. My daughter is the most beautiful little girl ever. I have loved ones and good friends. I live in a place most would describe as “paradise” and moreover, I live in a free country and I enjoy a reasonably high level of privilege. Yes, I have a lot to smile at in my life. So because of this, am I not allowed to tell you that I have bad days?
Let me set the scene. I recently met a woman at my church. Like most there, she was quite friendly. At the moment that I met her, I was telling others that I will be looking for a new church to attend, only because I really need a church that has a nursery. My daughter needs to crawl around and explore and play. She is 8 months old. You can’t tell a child that old that she needs to sit still and listen to the songs and lessons and sermons and prayers. I love the church we’ve been attending, but with my beloved Sir being gone so frequently, I really need a nursery for church. I have recently been feeling a sense of exhaustion, just to make it through an hour long service with my adventurous daughter. (“Whew! We made it!”)
So this new acquaintance I made today listened to me nicely and then gave me the phrase I hate most of all.
“Is she your only child?”
“Yes, she’s my only one.”
“Oh. Well talk to me after you have multiple.”
Ok so let’s break this down. She doesn’t want me to speak of my experience until I can match her own struggles. Why? Because she raised several children by herself at once? Because my words don’t even register to her as a struggle because she had it worse than I do? Because I am merely the mother of one child, so I must not know hardship.
I don’t put down the chaos and struggles other moms have. I know myself and I know I would lose what sanity I have left if I was the mother of multiple kids. I see other moms, some of twins and some of kids of different ages, and I just watch in awe because I just know they have crazier harder days than I do. But why does that mean they should brush aside any struggles I may have?
Why am I so upset? Because I wasn’t complaining. I wasn’t venting. I wasn’t whining or crying. I simply said I need some new situation because I know what’s best for my family. So why do so many women feel the need to compete with each other for who is suffering most? If I’m not having as bad a day as you, why are my words so awful to you? Why could she not just listen to me and then tell me how she made it through the rough days?
A woman close to me is this way and it still hurts me so deeply. I had a rough time after my daughter was born. I struggled mentally and emotionally. But this woman told me that she had it so much worse than I did and proceeded to list all the reasons why. I felt like she was essentially competing with me for who had it worse and I felt like she brushed my struggles away because in her eyes, I shouldn’t be struggling. I feel like my experiences were invalidated and that she was trying to “one up” me.
What if we supported each other instead? We all experience life differently. What might be a minor thing one day could be the straw that breaks you on another day. What might be a rain drop for me might be a tsunami wave for another person. In general, I may feel capable of handling the things this Navy life throws at me, but I am allowed to have bad days. And so are you. It’s a bad day, not a bad life.
So if you tell me, in so many words or by gist, that my struggles aren’t worth your notice because you or others have it worse, I will no longer come to you with any conversation deeper than the weather. But oh gosh, it’s raining here, but there’s a hurricane elsewhere so we shouldn’t talk about that either, right?
It’s possible for both to have bad days.