Do We Complain Too Much?


I know I am in danger of being crucified for this post, as I was recently in a Facebook argument by someone who told me I had a "severe" (well, she spelled it "serve," but I digress) problem because of my point of view and, verbatim, "Just keep your mouth shut! You are not a parent so you don't know!" So you can read it with that mind (though several mothers read the thread and messaged me after the fact saying they agreed with my sentiments but didn't want to get involved with people who were desperate for people to see how difficult their lives are).

Recently, I saw a post on a mommy blog's fanpage (being a blogger, I do tend to follow a lot of mommy blogs for the purpose of networking and because they do sometimes share useful life tips for even us lowly non-parents) talking about "What Not to Say to Stay at Home Parents." Perhaps I was having a bad day, but the whole "Look at how much I sacrifice for my family, I deserve a medal!" tone of the article really rubbed me the wrong way.

Look, no one is saying parenthood is easy, no matter if you choose to stay at home or work full or part-time. No one is saying that there aren't days when you want to cry into your coffee because all of your kids have pooped their pants at once. And certainly no one is discounting the loneliness stay at home parents can feel or that postpartum depression and anxiety can be debilitating and feel impossible to deal with. There may even be days when you wake up wondering what the hell you got yourself into all of these years ago when you had kids. Sometimes you'll probably need to call your close friends and cry or put up a wry status on Facebook about motherhood so you can commiserate with your friends. My Facebook friends have certainly mastered the art of showing the realities of motherhood, the good and the bad, without making me want to scream...most of this I've seen online in other places and women's magazines and websites which seem to now be bombarded with stories about children. Us women without kids don't matter.

But the full-time complaining on social media and expecting sympathy and accolades for being the busiest, poorest and most worked parent is exhausting to read. Especially because if anyone questions it, especially a non-parent, they will just have to "wait until they're parents" because they truly don't know anything about sacrifice or life until they've had progeny of their own.

This martyr complex doesn't just extend to parents. Many people constantly complain over their very privileged positions of going to university or being able to work a 9-5 job. Nowhere was this more prevalent for me than when I was at university and it always seemed like the "busy Olympics," everyone ready to win a gold medal in who has suffered the most by who is the busiest and has the most work to turn in. In reality, many people would give their left arm to go to college, yet we still somehow turn into martyrs.

I understand that there are degrees and levels of suffering and that it certainly is stressful to work 9-5, to raise kids or to take on a degree, but to me, a lot of this complaining sometimes feels like it is rubbing it in people's faces. Because I have lupus and have been unable to do a lot of things many people take for granted (like working 9-5 and still having a life), I do have trouble feeling sympathy for people complaining on a regular basis about their jobs. Likewise, many people are unable to attend college or university due to monetary restrictions, and what of those who are struggling with infertility or have lost a child who are subjected to those constantly telling others what a living hell life is with kids with status after status on Facebook. Or those with disabilities themselves or children with disabilities that make the daily tasks of raising children much harder?

Of course, as I stated before, I am not saying that there aren't times when coping with normal situations aren't difficult. College/university can certainly be stressful, jobs can be rough and there can definitely be situations in these that can be described as toxic. Complaining intermittently is one thing, but when it becomes your whole identity, sometimes you need to look at changing your tune.

Why do we push ourselves to be martyrs? Why do we want constant sympathy for things that people have been doing for generations and without many of the conveniences we have today? Why is there a martyr Olympics, whether it is for work, raising children or simply living life in general? Maybe because I work so much with the Holocaust (where there is also its own version of the suffering Olympics amongst academics and other people who like to quantify and categorize suffering), it is very difficult to see normal life as something so difficult.

What are your thoughts? Am I the worst person on earth?



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17 comments

  1. Honestly, I think everyone needs a vent every now and then, and lots of people will use their blogs to do so (although I hate 'vaguebooking', you know, those statuses like "urgh something terrible has happened today! I am so sad" without actually saying what it is!!) however, although I think it's healthy to talk about what's bothering us, I absolutely believe in concentrating on the positive!

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    1. Yeah, I just feel like some people take it too far. xx

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  2. Great, great post! I am honest and open on my blog and I always strive to say it how it is....if people don't like that then there are thousands of other blogs to read. I think talking about how we feel is healthy and open. Bottling up pain, anger, hurt etc only leads to stress and life is way to short for that. if you need to vent, then do it because it's your way of coping in an ever changing world. Keep it up and look for the positives in everything!!

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    1. True, but I think some people take it to an extreme. xx

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  3. I think is human nature to complain when you have it and when you don't have it. However, some use social media to make drama and get attention. Nice post!

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    1. Possibly, but some people like to take it to the excess and compete with who has it worse.

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  4. My God, you are my HERO! As someone who cannot have children there is nothing that "grinds my gears" more than having to sit through countless "pity parties" because someone decided to reproduce...

    Not only that, the only way TO network for us 'lowly childless heathens" is unfortunately through the thousands of Mommy Blogs we are forced to interact with. I mean, if we even want to try and stand a chance at viewership we have to "follow the Ambulance" so to speak.

    It's funny, I JUST wrote a post about the different styles of blogs I have encountered and I would say that 80% of them are the dreaded Mommy Blog. I do not think you are the worst person on the planet, if anything you just gained a viewer!

    Meagan Sullivan
    www.LoneStarBlogger.com

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    1. I 100% don't mind mommy blogs and a lot of my friends have kids whom I enjoy hanging out with....but there is this pervasive idea that motherhood bestows you some kind of otherworldly power that childless women just can't ever grasp. It always make me feel a bit shitty that I've put off having kids...and what about those who can't have kids or have lost kids? It just seems ridiculous to always complain about your children. I get that everyone needs to vent and complain sometimes and raising kids isn't easy by any means, but us childless women DO exist and we aren't terrible individuals for choosing to either wait or not have children at all. x

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  5. Interesting post. I never even considered how complaining about uni work may come across to others who don't even have the opportunity to pursue higher education in the first place. And I think that's because most of the people I know happen to be students as well, so I'm used to bouncing off others who are in the same situation as myself in that respect. Though personally I can get pretty severe anxiety, so for me stress over uni can have quite a dyer result. I do think venting is healthy to an extent, and how severe a particular problem is relative. Maybe the answer here is to think about who one's audience is when complaining. For example, if you're stressed about your kids it might make sense to chat about it with other mums instead of your whole Facebok page. Very though provoking debate

    Amani x
    amanilyrical.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. I am so sorry you face anxiety. That is so terrible and not fun! I agree, though, that there is a time and a place and perhaps when venting and complaining, people should be aware of their audiences. I have heard of people who are unable to have kids feeling like they can't even log onto facebook because people are always complaining about their own children. I imagine that must be very difficult.

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  6. I used to get really annoyed with privileged complaints, because I didn't find them as valid as my own, and it has taken me some time to realize that while they may be complaining about X, they are really more frustrated with Y.

    I remember getting super frustrated over my favorite coffee mug getting chipped, and making some snide comment to Brandon. The whole thing ended with me in tears, and it seemed like a huge overreaction to some really small, and it was. The thing is that I'd just received some terrible news about the health of a close family member, and I had no idea how to cope with the new reality.

    People tend to build up their stresses, and then they come out at seemingly bizarre times, and they complain about how busy they are with school to cover how hard it is to pay for and how worried they are about paying for next year.

    People need to be more aware of their audience when complaining, and social media is not the place to whine.

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    1. I think all complaining is valid, it just needs a proper place and its proper audience. Though people (myself included) should be more grateful! x

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  7. Hm - got to admit, when I saw your title my first thought was 'well I know I do...' ;) It's something I've been trying to stop doing as there is always someone worse off, and so many people dealing with the same life hassles. Your post also brings up so many different viewpoints for me: feminism, parenthood, blogging, social media, illness, sacrifice and just being a person in general. Above all I think it's awful if it seems that people think women without children don't matter, and this has been a long term feminist issue I think. Perhaps the sheer volume and prominence of mom blogging etc doesn't help nowadays either. I have several friends who just became first time parents, either biologically or through adoption, in their forties. But if a woman makes a choice not to be a parent, or can't, that should be just as valid as it would be for a man. And of course it's wrong to think that someone who hasn't been a parent couldn't understand life or sacrifice. By the way, if it lets me post a link, I think you might enjoy this from The Onion: http://www.theonion.com/article/area-man-only-one-with-problems-37712 :)

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    1. I LOVE the article. Hilarious.

      I agree about the childless women and it being a feminist issue. I hear moms on mommy blogs all of the time saying that women without kids just "don't get it" or telling women their "tune will change" once they have kids, etc., but that doesn't mean all women can have children. And it doesn't mean women without kids somehow live a less valid life. Increasingly, many single women without kids feel socially isolated, which is very unfair but I think a product of how we revere and almost fetisize motherhood.

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  8. I agree with you and I think you make a very good, well balanced argument here! We all have bad moments, bad days, weeks, years etc., and I think everyone has a right to moan a bit - but then get over it if you can! I like to try and think bigger and consider whether my 'problem' is really so bad?
    I've recently had a hospital placement where I was feeling a bit sorry for myself because I had to get up early, stand all day through surgery I don't find particularly interesting and find cases for my portfolio. But then I realised that as much as I didn't want to get out of bed and do that, the women going in for major gynae surgery probably didn't much want to be there either, and at least I know what to expect from my day!
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

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    1. Agreed. I think everyone needs to vent and get things off their chests and it is understandable. If you are having issues coping and getting on with it, I feel like it is more appropriate to seek the support of friends who are in similar situations or a therapist than to whine on Facebook! x

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