featured post – “at odds” by all & sundry

I’m going to step outside out usual format and feature a post by a blogger not on the PAIL blogroll. (Although, the author being on the blogroll is definitely *not* a requirement to submit a post you would like to see featured. If you think it’s important, then it probably is!) In fact, this post is not even remotely about the ALI journey, but the topic discussed is certainly a common thread in the ALI community. So I’m going for it. (We are also going to leave comments here OPEN for discussion of *your* experiences with this sort of thing and hopefully help you find someone else who has been in your shoes. Of course, as always, we strongly encourage you to visit the original author of the post I am going to talk about and add your thoughts.)

Alright then.

Lately, my patience with my toddler is waifer thin. I have turned into Asshole Yelling Mum and it is not pretty. I find myself thinking that I need a newborn like I need a hole in the head several times a day. Which has absolutely nothing to do with being ungrateful and everything to do with being overwhelmed in the moment. Being completely bogged down in the minutia of day to day existence but also being paralyzed with fear at the amorphously defined prospect of life with two children under the age of two. It’s string theory, for Mums. (Hint: string theory tries to reconcile how subatomic particles work and how the ENTIRE universe works into one simple, unified theory. Chew on that for a while.)

I have written before about perspective using the humour of The Bloggess as a framework. In her post “At Odds“,  Linda from All & Sundry also recently tackled the notion of perspective as it relates to parenting. Her approach to the topic and laidback voice appealed to me very much and has kept me thinking about this post for a while. As a a quick backgrounder, she recounts a trip to a children’s hospital for the purpose of her son being involved in a clinical study:

Going to the children’s hospital, though … man. My heart started hammering around in my chest as we headed in and I could see kids here and there who weren’t so fine… and jesus, I felt like the world’s biggest asshole, welling up as I walked the halls with my perfectly healthy, chatty toddler.

She goes on to talk about being irritated with him for normal toddler stuff within the hour. But the point, of course, is that being exposed to something that your current self deems to be unbearable should grant you the perspective to be incredibly grateful for what your current self has. That it can make us feel like, well, assholes when we compare our current “easy” state of affairs to those of others. (Is “Just be grateful that…/At least you have…” an event at the Pain Olympics? I don’t know, but both are certainly at play both within the ALI community and in our interactions with others about ALI. )

When this post found its way to my inbox, I was something of a hot mess. After reading it, I became I hot mess for completely different reasons. My brother died of a “childhood” cancer. He was the bald kid with the shadowy eyes. But you know what? When my toddler is wailing because he has a fever and a stuffy nose, reminding myself that “At least he doesn’t have cancer!” does absolutely nothing to help me cope in that moment. That kind of perspective isn’t helpful. Just as “Why can’t you just be grateful that at least you have a baby now?” isn’t helpful when trying to come to terms with your ALI journey. It depends on your vantage point. Sometimes, objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

… I was thinking about perspective lately, and how slippery it is to hold onto. I bitched and moaned mightily about how long this winter break from school has been, then I blinked back tears as Riley climbed on the bus this morning. Last night I couldn’t wait for the kids to go to bed, then I sat on the couch and read someone’s blog post about their children approaching the teen years and how hard things are getting, and I ran back into my boys’ bedrooms to kiss their confused, sleepy faces.

Yes. This. EXACTLY.

Perspective is in the eye of the beholder, and you can’t very well see it with your head down. Nor will you remember it very long when you have to turn away and get back to real life. I guess for me, perspective in terms of parenting really means just getting through the day with a loose plan for tomorrow. Eyes on the road. It reminds me of some lyrics from an Ani DiFranco song that I used to clutch to my chest pretty tightly:

“Cause when I look around
I think this, this is good enough
And I try to laugh
At whatever life brings
Cause when I look down
I just miss all the good stuff
When I look up
I just trip over things”

I find myself ending off much like Linda does… I don’t really know where I am going with this. It is a fine balance, to honour where you are without diminishing where you were.

*****

What is your perspective on perspective?

Be sure to visit Linda’s post “At Odds” @ All & Sundry. It’s a good read.

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Comments

  1. In all fairness, I think statements like “Just be grateful that…/At least you have…” are said in all situations, not just ALI situations. We feel that it’s magnified because we’re the ones going through infertility, but I promise all of us that people going through all sorts of health issues, big and small, hear this just as often as we do in the ALI community – and many times more often, I’m sure.

    My perspecitve on perspective? Many of you already know this, but my perspective is that MY REALITY is just that, my reality – and no one else’s reality matters when it comes to evaluating and dealing with my own challenges. I was robbed of my own reality at a very young age having a mother with a debilitating disease – every time something small or big happened in our lives that upset us, we were met with, “at least you don’t have MS like your mom.” When Mom would be having a rough time with her MS, it was met with, “at least your mother doesn’t have cancer.” That’s all just a bunch of bullshit. I don’t have MS, my mom doesn’t have cancer, others in this world don’t have IF.

    We all deal with this in one way or another, and I think the most important thing for each of us is to embrace our own reality, and not measure it against anyone else’s. This has been top of mind for me for a couple of years now, since having this revelation two years ago while pregnant with Matthew. True story, I was in a “OneBody3” class with 30 other coworkers and was up at the front of the room sharing some situation from my childhood when I just got to thinking out loud and blurted out, “I guess that we were never really allowed to have our own realities.” BAMM! A revelation like no other. A revelation more profound than anything I’d gained in therapy up to that point in my life. And you know what? This gets me through my daily, and much larger, struggles just great. I don’t get bent out of shape about much – bbut when I do get worked up, I find that I own my own reality and don’t compare it to what’s going on around (not affecting) me. I make decisions based on what I need, what my family needs – not what other people and families are dealing with that may, or may not, trump my current situation.

    Sorry to write such a LONG comment. I am very passionate about this topic. I am very passionate about “owning your shit” – both good and bad. And the amazing thing is that I’ve been to my new therapist twice now (YAY!) and the FIRST thing he wanted to discuss was perception, perspective, and our own realities! So I know I’m onto something – all by myself. 🙂

  2. This is a very good issue. I’ve also had one of those days- a morning where I was craving time to myself, and an afternoon where he was an angelic sleeper. You have to appreciate the good times to get through the bad. Or, really, they aren’t really bad, it’s more like they are demanding on us as mothers.

  3. Yesterday was one of those days. Raegan was screaming and fighting naps. Nothing I could do would calm her down. I was at my wits’s end. Right then the thought of having a second child scared the living shit out of me. I seriously wondered if I should move forward with treatment. Then after calming down and relaxing a bit, I realized, everyone has bad days.

    Perspective is so subjective. No one is going to have the same perspective. Everyone is always going to say, “at least you…” It happens. No one will ever get it how you get it, at least not exactly. Courtney makes a good point. It is each individual’s reality. We need to respect each other. It doesn’t always happen, but we need to do our best.

  4. Sometimes my mom (and you know how much she rocks – pun intended?) will respond to a comment of mine about Sofia will something along the lines of, “Well, I know how much you wanted her.” And I’m left thinking, yes, of course I did, but what does that have to do with anything? Am I not allowed to want to strangle my husband because he is also the love of my life? Am I not allowed to hate Monday mornings even though I love my job? That dichotomy is unavoidable and, quite honestly, I think a huge part of how we live life. We are constantly classifying things. Today is a good day. Last night was a bad night. It’s how we communicate with others, how we easily share that information. I tell you that Sofia had the worst night ever last night and you kind of know what that means. it doesn’t matter if her night COULD have been worse.

    All that being said, it’s nearly impossible to not feel the guilt of those feelings on occasion, and frequently when it comes to such hard-fought things as parenting after/through ALI. Yesterday I was a mess due to what appears to be a chemical pregnancy. I was lying at home on the bed, in the dark, just thinking, when I heard the elevator stop on our floor and the Stan’s and Sofia’s voices out in the landing. And all I could think was, “Ugh. Already? Give me a few more minutes of quiet.” And then, the guilt. Of course, the guilt. I am upset because this chance at another baby is disappearing and I am not even able to appreciate the arrival of my girl?!?! talk about needing perspective. But, the truth is that, in my heart of hearts I have that perspective. We all do. We know how incredibly lucky we are. But in the moment, in the day-to-day life, to be our best we need something else – perhaps those moments of quiet, or a well-behaved toddler as we handle some important documents, or a full-night’s sleep. We don’t need the perspective in that moment, we need what we need to be healthy and happy. And that’s just as important.

    • I really appreciated this post, SRB. I want to comment but my brain is fried and seeing that NBR said it perfectly here, I’ma just gonna slap a big ol’ CO-SIGNED on her comment and call it a day.

  5. Perspective: what that food critic orders in the movie Ratatouille, and he gets food that reminds him of just enjoying food and it being nice that someone cooked for him.

    Perspective for me: it’s really hard because I am stuck with my own viewpoint and there’s no getting around it, just trying to get through it to see where I’m even coming from in the first place. I am doing this thing for the month of being mindful 5 times a day and it’s really shifted things for me toward a little bit more “now” and less “then and when.” Mostly I’m being mindful of what I’m eating and how it makes me feel or doesn’t, and how cute the kid is first thing in the morning during her hiding under the covers routine (because the first 10 minutes is super adorable with the fake sleep and all, then it gets infuriating). So I guess, I’ve stopped trying to keep my perspective at all and am settling for glimpses of “oh hey, this is a good time” and “I’m so lucky to get to do this” for now. To go with the Ani lyrics (I must find that album now), I’d add the song “Only For Now” from Avenue Q. Whatever it is today, it’s only for now, so we can enjoy it or hate it, but it won’t last (thankfully in some cases such as won’t-play-or-be-alone-child).

Trackbacks

  1. […] off the week with her featured post, “at odds,” by All and Sundry, wherein she talks about perspective and how hard it is to keep it when […]

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