I read an article recently in which the author, being childless despite her best efforts, had taken aim at women who do have kids, and who then complain about how hard it is raising them.
Obviously many bloggers including myself would be shit out of luck if we weren’t able to complain about and poke fun at our children. But in all seriousness it does beg the question: if you are blessed with children when so many couples struggle with infertility, are you allowed to bitch about the shitty days?
In short: I would say no. But…
In a perfect world everyone would be appreciative of all the good things in their lives. A partner to share the journey with, healthy happy children, a supportive and loving circle of family and friends, a successful and fulfilling career. We would be mindful of those less fortunate than ourselves and have a strong sense of social justice.
Most of us just aren’t wired quite that perfectly. Even when we hit the jackpot and manage to tick all the boxes we always find something to complain about. It’s just human nature. Especially in our current society. (Check out the #firstworldproblems hashtag on twitter to see what I mean).
I guess it would come down to who you talk to. A close friend who is herself a busy mum and you’re on the same wavelength? Vent away. Someone of a certain age who may have been married a while and has no kids? I would tread carefully. I had an episode of foot-in-mouth recently when I had a bit of a whinge then laughingly said to someone that I have known for a long time “time for another one soon hey?”. I would never normally say something like that, and like I’m always warning my husband, you just don’t know what someone may be going through in private. Sure enough, the one time I did say it, the woman in question quietly explained that they have been trying for well over a year with no luck.
There could be a reason why so many women take offense at this particular brand of complaining. We live our lives so publicly now. You can’t turn around without seeing another post, status update, book, article, blog (guilty), and tweet where a mother is venting about how her kids have pissed her off so far that morning. Where it used to be a conversation between two friends on the phone, we now face the phenomenon that is over-sharing. Sometimes there is just nowhere to run and hide and not have to listen to it.
I suppose some people might just tell the person annoyed by such things to ignore it, don’t read it, or switch the computer off. The truth is no-one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings, and those lucky enough to have children are just that: lucky. They haven’t done anything better and are in no way more deserving than the couple who has none. I can’t begin to imagine the pain and difficulty of infertility, and I won’t insult anyone by trying to address that. I agree that some people probably do need to complain less. After all, if the hardest part of your day is a tantrum-prone toddler, a surly teenager, or even the dreaded gastro, you do in fact have it pretty good.
The verdict? It’s probably safe to say that we will offend someone somewhere no matter what we say (or don’t say). We just need to be aware that sharing every thought online equals a lot more people who will either like it or hate it. More people who will either agree or disagree. More people who we may inspire and more people we may unintentionally hurt.
So, as the old saying goes, watch your p’s and q’s.
And vent to your partner instead.