Communal Complaining

As one blogger friend recently posted, we all have a need to be understood.  Apparently, I need to be understood (and need to clarify) concerning a facebook status I posted yesterday.  If you did not see the status, it said “Dear friends who are moms…I would rather be a mom of a fussy child than to be a woman who can’t have any child at all.  Be thankful, even on the bad days.” The responses ranged from agreement (even from some mothers), to those who took it in stride, to those who took great offense.  Some commenters replied in short simple words, while others took the status into other topics or broader ideologies.  Since it was my post, and facebook does not really allow the space needed for my clarification, I will attempt to lay out my thoughts here.

My status was birthed from a simple observation – that many mothers had posted complaints about their children or about being a mother.  This is not a generalization about mothers, about the love that the mothers have for their children, or whether complaining qualifies someone as being a good or bad mom.  It is a fact that the mothers were complaining.

Most of the time I skip past the complaining statuses, perhaps say a small prayer for the situation, and am not overly affected emotionally by the negativity that exudes from those statements.  But yesterday was different….it was splattered all over the place and it was constant.  Yesterday was also different because, for me, I am currently going through the stages of infertility acceptance.  So, when I see mothers who do nothing but constantly complain, it affects me emotionally.  I am not so prideful to refuse to admit that perhaps my status (in its subtle complaining) was pounded out in a state of frustration, but I simply wanted to give mothers a reason to be thankful.  And I am, myself, finding reasons to be thankful in my situation.

Complaining & Gratefulness seem to be the underlying topics.  In case anyone missed it, I did post a comment under my status that states:

I completely understand that there are going to be terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. It’s okay to get frustrated, upset, discombobulated, and stressed…all very normal reactions to out of control times. However, i also don’t think moms should put on happy facades just because they don’t want to offend others…but I do believe that publicly bashing a child’s behaviour or grumbling about them does not help the situation in any way. If anything it feeds on the negativity, making one much more inclined to stress, frustration, anxiety, and anger.

I’m reminded of:

Philipians 2:14, “Do everything without complaining or arguing”

Ephesians 4:29 that says we are to only speak “what is helpful for building others up”

Perhaps it’s in the hardest of days that we should express even more thanks. Gratefulness can ease frustration and give us the right perspective and strength to face the challenges.

So, I’m giving the biggest reason of all to be thankful – that you have a child.

Did anyone catch that?   Within that statement there is compassion and understanding of what mothers go through.  I see the difficulties of raising children and know that it is not easy.  I also understand the need to vent and let out our frustrations, being real with our emotions.   But it’s the complaining that I believe is wrong.

AND I definitely don’t think social networking sites are the place for them.  Yes, social networking provides an avenue of sillyness, venting, and even life-connection, but we fool ourselves when we treat it as therapy or reality. Venting on facebook or twitter does nothing to resolve the situation, and likely doesn’t even make us feel better. Instead, it usually fuels the fire as people “like” our comment, or join in to the conversation until it becomes an all out bash-fest.  If we see a need to vent, how about going FIRST to the One who already knows our emotions and our thoughts?  Our Father God is the ultimate comforter and provider of strength.  SECONDLY, if we must vent openly, how about to our spouses, who (hopefully) understands us the most?  or maybe a third option is a close friend.  But publicly criticizing children (such as calling them monsters or headaches) is not “helpful for building others up.”

As Christians, we are to live our lives in accordance with Scripture, God’s Words to us.  Every scripture that I find about complaining says we are NOT to do it.  In fact, the scriptures can be pretty harsh against those who do (see I Corinthians 10:10).  I don’t get to choose and weed out the scriptures I want to follow or ignore.  If I follow Christ, then I follow Him completely.  I’m not perfect; there are still times I complain and fall short of His glory, but my desire is to heed his Words…because they are good and have my best interest at heart.