There is nothing like a routine visit to the children's hospital with one of your kids for a totally no-big-deal, planned follow-up, to bring up feelings of gratitude and a little philosophizing. A visit where thankfully, what you'd been following is fine, and resolved, and all you take home is your child and some films. Baruch ata Hashem elokeinu melech haolam, hatov vehameitiv!
I had a discussion with a friend the other day about the idea that we shouldn't try to minimize the challenges of another person. We do this a lot as moms, sometimes without even realizing it.
My kids are nearly 5, nearly 3, and nearly 1. We're firmly in diaper-tantrum-toileting-sleepless-crumbs-holdme-helpme territory and will probably be there for a while. I know what my challenges are, but I also (hopefully) am able to keep the complaints to a minimum and sense the immense blessings of this stage. Talking to a relative or friend with school-aged kids or teens or kids of an age range that runs the gamut, can sometimes lead to a laundry list of "just-you-waits" and "so-glad-that's-overs".
What does it mean when we compare challenges? When we're vying for the title of Biggest Sufferer? I read recently that the allure of complaining is that if we demonstrate just how difficult our life's challenges are, we come across as all that much more heroic for overcoming them.
I think that there's a great deal of truth to this explanation. Kvetching to one another is not sinful, but there's a hidden motive that can lurk: If I've just described the myriad of difficult scenarios I face, the mere fact that I'm standing upright in front of you makes me some kind of Superwoman, right?
Well, momentarily, maybe. But in the long run, I think that we're drawn to those with buoyant spirits and with a grateful perspective on life. Those who are cheerful and insist not that "it was nothing" but that they were happy to do it.
The gist of it for me (and this is a major work in progress) is to minimize my own complaints while at the same time, hearing and being empathetic towards the complaints of others, without minimizing or judging. It's a tall order. It's our life's work.
What do you think?