who has the hardest “hard”? Who cares?

You know how, once in a while, you read something and not only do you want to share it on Facebook, you want to staple it to your forehead and hand out copies to everyone you meet, thrusting it into their hands, saying, “This. THIS.” ? You know that feeling?

I’m feeling that after reading Your Hard is Hard on the blog The Extraordinary Ordinary. Heather is a nail-on-the-head writer pretty much all the time, but this. THIS. Heather talks about having once been a mother of one who complained of a sleepless night to two mothers of three, who rolled their eyes and laughed at her:

I got a message–they had it harder than I did–and in that moment I felt foolish for feeling tired or maybe even for having feelings…

I hesitate in venting because when I’m doing that it so often seems that other mothers assume I’m saying I win the Hardest Award, or that I’m wishing away my life. But I’m not. I’m just talking. I’m seeking validation and there is nothing more refreshing than another mother who simply sees me and acknowledges The Hard and nods and says, Yes, it’s so hard, isn’t it? The End.

But who hasn’t reached out to another mother seeking validation, and gotten a smack-down instead? Who hasn’t had that sanctimommy chuckling “You ain’t seen nothing yet” in her face? And how much does that suck?

Your hard is hard. Even when you’re sitting next to someone whose troubles make you feel guilty about ever complaining at all. And it’s so helpful when someone gives you permission to feel that way.

When I posted last week that I felt so stupid, crying over my son’s general anesthesia for oral surgery when other parents in that OR waiting room had children that were really ill, fellow blogger Alan at Always Jacked wrote back:

Never beat yourself up for being concerned about your kids. You were strong in front of him and crying away from him. So what WHAT it was for.

and I teared up all over again because I don’t even know this person in real life but he gave my feelings validation. He told me it was okay. Thank goodness for blogs and the people who read them.

It’s true that there are other parents with much, much harder rows to hoe than I do, and I am grateful for that daily. But my “hard” doesn’t take away from theirs. Or theirs from mine. My hard is hard, and I shouldn’t seek validation for that by making others feel like their problems are smaller than mine. As Liv at The Saturated Palette said in the comments on Heather’s post,

One child takes 100% of your time, 2 kids take 100% of your time, and three kids take 100% of your time.

All motherhood is hard. It’s great and it’s hard. Who has the hardest “hard”? Who cares? More Heather:

…when I set aside my insecurity and give myself the credit I deserve and the validation I’m seeking… it’s in there already. I don’t need to try to steal yours. This is what will make me into one of those refreshing mother-friends, one who says I see you and I hear you and this is hard and you are goodThe End.

I hope to go be one of those “refreshing mother-friends” today.

Who is that person for you?

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Auditions for Listen To Your Mother: NYC have just been announced for the end of February. Nine other cities are holding auditions next month as well.  If you write about motherhood, LTYM wants you! 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura Vanderkam January 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm

I love the word “sanctimommy.” Pretty much sums it up. I’ve never understood why people think that being more miserable than someone else makes them a better parent than someone else.

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Karen January 25, 2012 at 12:34 am

This! THIS!!!
LOVE this post!
Thank you.

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Style by Angela NYC January 25, 2012 at 3:28 pm

THIS THIS THIS.

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I am a daddy at home January 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I am inspired by this. I am a daddy at home. 

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Alan Kercinik January 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Hear hear.

I’d expand the thought to parenting in general. I’ve gotten similar reactions when I’ve talked about the challenges of having a travel-heavy job and being a dad to stay-at-home Moms. You don’t know tough, they seem to say, unless you’re walking around smelling like spit-up and trying to keep the house from burning down all day.

We’re all in it together, trying to raise good little humans. Let’s all agree that sometimes it can be a real challenge and support each other.

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Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom January 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm

I’m going to list my “refreshing mother friends” here: Janet, Gillian, Isabel, Christy, and Nicole–this one’s for you!

And not the mommy who once heard me complain that I felt like a single mother with my husband traveling. She shot me down with ,”yea right, single mom except without the heartache and pain of a divorce.” Well, yes, but if you want my toddlers 24/7 for the four days my hubby’s out of town, I can drop them off right now…

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Elissa Freeman January 26, 2012 at 4:00 am

I so love this post…why do people feel they need to compete for ‘hard’? What’s to be gained by that?  That you feel validated in some way? I don’t think so…

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shari@myjudythefoodie January 28, 2012 at 1:31 pm

This post really hit a chord.  After reading it, I literally went through my email address book and sent this post to ALL of my MOMMY friends.  This should be printed out and placed under everyone’s pillow…..

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Courtney February 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Fabulous and timely post, at least in my eyes. I am going back to work soon after a 12 week maternity leave, and I also have a three year old. Our transition to a family of four has been challening, to say the least. Our three year old is beautiful, intelligent, funny and smart as a whip. She also is THE most stubborn child I have ever met in my life. Lots of battles, lots of power struggles. (A whole different topic). Anyway, it’s been hard, but we are getting into a groove. Now I am going back to work, and I am having anxiety about how this transition, another transition, is going to be for my family. How do I cope? My four best Mom friends are my salve. They all work full-time out of the home and all have two children, just like me. They all bring something different to my life, and they are all wonderful friends. One week a few weeks ago, I saw all of them at different times, and they each, in their different ways, reassured me that I am a great mom and yes, motherhood is hard, but that they are there for me, and I am there for them.  Each of them have told ME in turn, that they love my non-judgmental advice and my good listening ear. I hope to never lose those qualities as we each navigate this hard, wonderful world of motherhood.

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Lindsey Whitney February 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I agree.  I feel like this happens a lot, not with friends, but among family members.  Who is the most tired, the most busy, the most sacrificing, the greatest martyr?  It’s just not worth it. 

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