Despite the pressure to complain, there is a way we can be joyful.

I read a blog post recently about this WaPo article Why don’t dads complain about parenthood like moms do?  The authoress of the article complains about the fact that men are doing more childcare but aren’t complaining about it enough.  The blog post about the article calls this miserly feminist ugliness, and I mostly agree, but what the blog author might not realize (I don’t know if his commenters realize it or not, as I don’t have time to read blog comments anymore) is the pressure that women get from other women to complain about their husbands and children.  It’s not limited to feminists by any means, even though some feminists have perfected bitter complaining to an art form.

For an example of what I mean, consider this story Patrice Lewis from Rural Revolution shared several years ago:

“Now contrast this happy family with a news article that came out last week in which a mother called her children the “biggest regret” of her life. “[L]ike parasites, both my children would continue to take from me and give nothing meaningful back in return,” she says […]

This reminds me of an experience I had when I was pregnant with Older Daughter. Don and I spent a weekend as vendors at a craft show. In my excitement about the baby, I mentioned to many people that I was pregnant.

Toward the end of the day, the woman in the next booth turned to me and said, “So. I hear you’re pregnant.”

“Yes,” I replied proudly. “The baby is due in December.”

“You’re going to hate it,” she said flatly.

Startled, I replied, “Excuse me?”

“You’ll hate it. Believe me, I have six kids, and I hate them all.”

For the next half hour, as I slumped lower in my chair, she poured poison into my ear about how awful motherhood is. By the time she was done, I was crying.”

Instead of complaining, Patrice was filled with joy (and if you read Patrice’s blog, you know she’s hardly a woman who sugarcoats how hard of work life is), hence the poison that the other woman felt the need to pour into her ear. Any woman who shows too much joy in her husband and children will face this at some point; the pressure put on women by other women to complain and criticize their husbands, children, and family can be intense, as the WaPo article demonstrates.

Personally, I’ve experienced just about every situation at one time or another – working full-time, working part-time, being at home full-time, homeschooling, having my children in a Christian school, and now finally living somewhere where we feel okay about having the kids in the local public schools (because they are small, rural, and Christian-friendly; we even go to church with some of our children’s teachers).  And what I’ve found is that I’m tempted to complain just about as much in any one situation as I am in another. Sometimes I’ve complained because I had a legitimate need for help – for example, I had to ask my mother-in-law to come stay with us for several days this week because I just couldn’t keep up while my husband was out of town – but other times I was jes’ bitchin’.

Deciding to focus on gratitude for even having a family to serve is what has worked best for me in quashing my feminine tendency to complain about whatever situation I’m in and whatever people I’m around.  Because really, if women aren’t complaining about their children and husbands, they’ll just tend to complain about their co-workers and bosses. Of course, most men complain too (yes, they really do, despite the saints and martyrs routine some men spout), but men don’t pressure other men to complain the way women tend to do.

If I have any useful advice at all to offer my fellow woman here, it would be this: don’t complain about your family – not your husband, not your children, and not your extended kin – nor about doing your duty to them, and do your best to ignore the pressure other women place on you to be a bitter, grumbling complainer. There is no need to be fakey-fakey-everything-is-awesome! about it; it’s okay to acknowledge the reality that your duty may be hard and heavy in a particular season, it’s even okay to say, “I really need help because I am overburdened right now.” It’s okay to admit that sometimes certain family members (hey, teenagers, I’m lookin’ at you here) can be quite, shall we say, irksome.

No matter. They are yours, your very own people!  How blessed, how very blessed, we are to have our own kin!  There is hardly a greater joy than our own highly imperfect but infinitely dear kin and kith. If we love them well and look for the joy in serving them, surely, surely God will sustain us and bless our families!

…may the righteous be glad
    and rejoice before God;
    may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing in praise of his name,
    extol him who rides on the clouds;
    rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
    is God in his holy dwelling.
 God sets the lonely in families,
    he leads out the prisoners with singing;
    but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

From Psalm 68

Or if you prefer, be encouraged by this gorgeous old Maria McKee song, my favorite lines from which are these:

Tell me why wasn’t I more grateful?
Why wasn’t I more grateful?
Why wasn’t I, why wasn’t I more grateful
When life was sweet, when life was sweet?

Some people want and want and want what they don’t have
‘Til it keeps ’em awake at night in their bed just twitchin’
Some people like to complain about every little thing
Some folks just never stop bitchin’

I had a good man, I took him for granted
And now I surely, surely, surely, surely miss him
Wasn’t it enough? wasn’t it, wasn’t it enough?…

Why wasn’t I, why wasn’t I?
And it keeps me wonderin’ what might’ve been
Keeps me wonderin’ what might’ve been, yeah
To the Lord more grateful

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7 thoughts on “Despite the pressure to complain, there is a way we can be joyful.

  1. One thing that may prove useful in fighting complaining is watching animal videos on youtube. You watch them, fell better, and don’t have to worry about a headache the next day.

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  2. This blurb is for FuzzieWuzzie, who likes bears, and for others, who like to rejoice.

    Sunshine said “No matter. They are yours, your very own people! How blessed, how very blessed, we are to have our own kin! There is hardly a greater joy than our own highly imperfect but infinitely dear kin and kith. If we love them well and look for the joy in serving them, surely, surely God will sustain us and bless our families!”

    This is my “amen” and some extrapolation to Sunshine’s statement. A little bragging along with my rejoicing.

    My daughter is a freshman at the Barrett Honors College at Arizona State University (with their own dorms and classrooms, so sort of a self-contained unit within the University), studying speech pathology (hence, my interest in Sunshine). Coming out of high-school, she was designated a National Scholar (one of about 60,000 selected out of about 600,000 considered). It is cloudy and showery there (Phoenix/Tempe) this morning (Sunday, 3-1-15), as it is here in Los Angeles. I just received the following message and link from her:

    “I am especially feeling this one on this fine gloomy morning.

    Look at the World- John Rutter

    In watching that video (with pictures to help us rejoice), the following video appeared alongside the one I was watching on YouTube. I had forgotten about this. It seems appropriate to share in this thread. Those in red robes are the Cathedral choir. The rest are from protestant churches throughout the area.


    Look at the World – John Rutter directing
    Our Lady of Angels Cathedral, Los Angeles

    My daughter sang in a children’s choir (she also plays trumpet). This video is from a 2-17-2008 concert, when she was eleven. (For some reason, the camera doesn’t pan to the left; more choir there than what you see on the right side.) Quite a concert this was. Directed by John Rutter, who wrote the song. He is from England and is quite well-known there as a composer and choir director. The following summer, daughter’s choir went to England, Scotland, and Ireland on tour – with a weeks stay at a “choir camp” in Sherbourne Abbey and Wells Cathedral (Google both, plus Our Lady of Angeles Cathedral, if you are interested at all in majestic Cathedrals). John Rutter was one of the choir masters at this choir camp as well.

    Daughter was offered full scholarships at all the major Universities across the nation. She was also solicited by all of the Ivy League schools (who do not offer full scholarships) plus Stanford. We know of many stories where daughter went away to school and crashed in her freshman year because she could not handle the separation from family, plus the pressure of college academics. Our daughter is extremely shy. It was obvious from the get-go that she would not handle the separation from family, and I had no wish to set her up to fail. Hence, she could not take advantage of any of the national scholarships offered to her, with the exception of a few close to home. The Barrett Honors College at ASU in Tempe is the “just right” choice. (Reference to Goldilocks and the 3 bears for Fuzzie.) The school is very “hands on” in making certain the students know what they are supposed to be doing, and making sure they do it. Daughter will benefit muchly from this, since her shyness inhibits her reaching out for help when she needs to. Plus, it is only a 7-hour drive from us – so we make it a point to be there with her once a month. At some point, I’m assuming she will grow out of her shyness at least a little bit. But for now, this is working for her.

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  3. I share this to show why I am interested in the discussions about women and wives and daughters that have been going on in Sunshine, Dalrock, Empath, and others blogs over the last two years or so. I am in the middle of living out much of what has been discussed (except the frivorced part).

    I have cautioned daughter about what much of these blogs have declared that girls will encounter at school. Primarily, I cautioned her to beware of those who would see her as “fresh meat” on campus. True to form, she was approached many times by upper-classmen her first few weeks on campus. She is not interested in being anybody’s “fresh meat” at the moment, so she had no problem turning them away. She shares a quad with three other girls – two girls per rectangular room with a bathroom in the middle, between them. Both rooms share the bathroom, so they can easily go from one sleeping/study area to the other, unless the girls have locked the bathroom door. Daughter has been given a solid foundation from which to take flight, so she is able to be stable where others might be shakey. Her roommate came close to crashing, but daughter was able to help her stay calm. Rather than leaving school, roomate switched majors to an easier subject. (The girl across the hall did crash and went back home to family on the East Coast.) One roommate across the bathroom is a Christian, so daughter and she have formed a special bond and are supporting each other. Other roommate across the bathroom has turned out to be a practicing lesbian – who promptly took to bringing “friends” to have sex with into the room she shares with the Christian girl. It did not take my daughter and the other two girls long to band together and take a stand: do what you want elsewhere, but not here. At the start of the year, that lesbian girl was invited to a sorority party whereupon she got so drunk she passed out (where have we heard that story before?). Folks who saw she was passed out took her to their dorm room until she sobered up (and who knows what transpired in the meantime). On an other occasion, lesbian girl drank so much alcohol they had to take her to the hospital with alcohol poisoning.

    So, daughter is living out the admonition in Romans 12:2 to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, [proving] what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. I have great confidence that, in living out this admonition, she will thrive. Tho she stumble and fall, she will not be cast down – for the Lord holds her up in his hand. Psalms 37:24; Proverbs 24:16.

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  4. First sentence of the second part of my post above: “… that have been going on in Sunshine, Dalrock, Empath, and others blogs …”. While I do read Empath from time to time, I meant to say Elspeth. And I forgot to add this to the end of my post:

    “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3

    I think these final words apply to all whose minds are stayed on Christ. Trusting Christ that he will have happen all things that he wills to have happen with our families.

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  5. Oh, she’s studying to be a speech path? Good for her! It’s a hectic job during the school year, but then you can have summers off if you want (or not, if you don’t). I really think it’s a good job choice for young women who know they want to be prepared to work in a “helper” job if that’s what their husbands need them to do.

    It’s an exciting time to go into speech and language pathology, too, because of all the AAC (Alternative/Augmentative Communication) technology; the iPad alone has revolutionized what I do with my students on the autism spectrum.

    Sorry to hear she got one difficult roommate. I too had a drinker as one of my roommates freshman year and had to clean up her barf in the middle of the night. Ick.

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  6. Sunshine, I counselled my GF’s son’s GF about checking out the job prospects (she is facing a PhD track in oceanography if she keeps on with her major).
    Her son is working: my oldest is now in pharmacy school.
    And since the Maria McKee won’t play no more: here is some more.

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  7. Pingback: Know that you are happy. | The Sunshine Thiry Blog

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