Tuesday, August 19, 2008


I'm angry. No, wait. I'm furious.

I shouldn't be. I should not allow other people's whining to get to me. I should remember that when someone is in pain, that pain is real and immediate, and shouldn't be compared to the pain of others.

But I can't help it.

Dear Angry Single Mother -- I know it must be hard to be a single parent. I know you are angry that your child's father is not in your life. I admire your hard work, the fact that you put yourself through school and now you have a great job and your kid is in private school. But get OVER yourself. Every single day, you have a choice. You chose to sleep with the father of your child. You chose not to abort your child. You choose not to go out with/get serious with/settle down with any of the many men who would go out with you, because they are not cute enough, or rich enough, or you don't have chemistry, or whatever. Your life is about choices you are able to make every single day. Some of us would give ANYTHING to have a child, and can't have one. Some of us don't have that choice. -- Sincerely, A Parent Wannabe

Dear SAHM with a Traveling Husband -- I know it's hard to be a stay-at-home mother with a traveling husband. I know you miss him, and you didn't count on being a "single parent" (as you phrase it). But I hear you whine on and on and on, in front of the kids, who now see Daddy as someone mean and selfish, who makes Mommy sad. I see your half-million-dollar home with the swimming pool, and your supportive parents (who babysit any time you want to go out with friends or go shopping), and your weekly maid, and the fact that your kids are in school all day, and I think to myself "shut UP, you selfish bitch!" Your husband does not have to travel. You could ask him to give up a job he adores, a job that fulfills him. You could tell him to give up what he loves, so your life is easier and you aren't so lonely. Granted, you'd have to give up the expensive house, the maid, the expensive clothing and jewelry, the new car every two years. Those are CHOICES. You could choose to have him home with you, but every choices has negative facets. He stayed home with you, working out of a "virtual office" for the first four years of your daughters' lives, fixing breakfast every day, taking the girls to doctor appointments, cooking dinner, going to playgroups. How many parents would give their eye teeth for such an opportunity? And hell, he comes HOME every weekend. He's home one week out of every three, and home every single weekend...and he uses his frequent flyer miles to take you and the kids somewhere amazing every single year (Hawai'i, England, Jamaica, the Amazon, New York City). Hey, I have an idea. Come talk to some military families, each of whom has a parent on deployment, usually for months. Talk to women and men whose spouses are in Iraq and Afghanistan, who'd give every penny they have to get their spouses home on the weekends...or just home at the end of the year with both hands and both feet, and not in a body bag. -- Sincerely, An Active Duty Military Spouse

Dear "I'm So Poor" Whiner -- Yes, the economy sucks right now. Yes, I can empathize with difficulties finding money to pay the bills (hell, in high school, I cleaned houses with my mom so we could afford to pay the rent!) Yes, medical bills are very, very scary. But if you have enough to eat that you and your kids are overweight (or at least well-nourished); if you can write about how broke you are, then in the next post talk about the restaurant or fancy ice cream parlor you just visited with your kids; if your big problem is that the new backpack you got your son is sooo expensive, yet his old backpack is still in one piece...then you have no idea what "broke" really is. Broke is not being able to afford a sack of rice and some dried beans -- not "I can only buy Starbucks and McDonald's twice this week." Broke is finding a kerosene heater at a yard sale, and putting all the blankets on the beds at night in the winter, not whining about heating oil costs. Broke is pawning every bit of jewelry you and your kids have ever owned, so you can buy more rice and beans -- not whining that you can't buy your daughter a new formal for this year's prom (what's wrong with last year's formal dress? What's wrong with thrift stores, or forming a formal gown tradng club? What's wrong with NOT GOING to the prom -- plenty of kids in developing countries have no CLUE what a prom is!) Broke is explaining to your kids that there will be no birthday or holiday presents this year except "doing nice things for one another" -- not buying the supplies to make "handmade gifts" for the six or seven parties you've been invited to. Broke is growing your own lettuce and radishes and herbs from seeds -- not being unable to buy organic produce at the Whole Foods. Broke is using the cheapest bulk no-name laundry detergent, wearing clothes more than once before washing them, and hanging all your clothing on a clothesline to dry -- not bitching that the Bounce fabric softener dryer sheets are out of your price range. Broke is putting cardboard in the soles of your one pair of flats, so you don't feel the pavement through the holes -- not complaining bitterly that you can't afford to buy new shoes to go with your new outfit. If you ate meat last week, if you ate in a restaurant (even fast food) in the past month, if you went to a movie (or rented a movie) or pay for cable TV, if you own more than one pair of shoes or have bought clothing in the past three months (other than to replace necessary clothes that have completely disintegrated), if you have actual snack foods in the house, if you have the time to Twitter, Plurk, blog, etc. every single day instead of looking for a second job -- then you have NO IDEA what broke means. -- Sincerely, Fed Up with the Out-of-Touch-with-Reality Bullshit

Dear Self -- Get off your high horse. You don't really know the depth of pain other people might be in. You have no idea how many of them are mentally ill (beyond just being out of touch with reality and self-centered). You may be a military spouse, but your husband comes home at least every three months, and you are totally assured of his love for you. Sure, you don't have children now, but who knows what the future holds? And in the meantime, you have freedom and flexibility and hours to sleep or play that people with children only dream about. It's time to choose to be understanding, to stop judging. It's time to remember that your point of view is not the only point of view. It's time to choose some joy again, dammit. -- Sincerely, Self