What I Do About the Hard Stuff

I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post, Why Being A Mom Isn’t Hard, that yielded many readers from Google searches, one of which left me this comment:

Blah,blah,blah…..obviously you have a loving, good husband. try being a single mom to 4 kids one of whom is autistic, and watch your ex with someone 10 yrs younger, doing all the fun stuff, and none of the hard stuff. It is not hard, it is brutal. You have NO idea what you’re talking about. Enjoy your stay in lala land, it is how I felt too when I thought I was happily married. Once I found out what a giant scam marriage is, the let down and betrayal was unbelievable, the pain unbearable. Yes, being a mom IS hard. incredibly so.

The author goes on to express specific examples of gender discrimination and social ostracism and then concludes,

Good men make being a mom a blessing. Bad men…they make it a burden.

I could rise up defensively and say, “I have burdens, too. I detest scrap booking. You missed my point.” When I ponder her last statement, though, I see truth in her perspective.

Motherhood can be a burden or a blessing. The character and contribution of the father lifts that burden to bless the mother or adds to the burden to make it unbearable.

I feel with her as I have felt with friends who’ve confided the burdens their husbands’ actions cause.  While I am blessed to have “a loving, good husband” as the father of my children, I’m sad when this divides me from other women whose circumstances are not so.

The blessing of having a good man, like the blessing of becoming a good woman, is not automatic for any of us. The road on which we develop our characters and marriages to be such will always intersect with obstacles, none of which is easy to overcome.

Much of what I write is my process of moving past my negative emotions from a hard experience toward a place of understanding and growth. Some days after I publish a post, I wonder, “Did I write a lie? Do I really believe that? Am I just saying what I think I should feel?”

Some readers may misunderstand my pondering and writing process and think I indeed live in “La la land.” I hope, on the other hand, most will know that I do not live an idyllic life with all the right answers. Instead, I choose to look beyond the immediate trouble and use that light to change not only my eyesight but also my heart.

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9 Comments

  1. David
    Jun 17, 2009

    Even if you do live in “La la land” so what? It is still your reality and what your life is. Sure there are others who may have a more difficult life or circumstance but that is not your fault or problem. Who ever posted that comment on your blog needs a friend and probably some counseling. One of my favorite quotes is “challenges are to make us better not bitter”.

    I have personally experienced the “your life is easy compared to mine” among some friends and family and at times, it is a bit uncomfortable for me because it was not my intention to have the person feel that way. At other times (right or wrong) I catch myself thinking about how decisions I have made in my life have led me to where I am today and that it wasn’t just coincidence, fate, or good fortune that landed me here.

    Blaming fate is much easier and feels better than recognizing how the choices that we have made in our life have led us to where we are. With that said, I recognize that there are choices that other people can make that can greatly affect our life and that the hand of God plays a role in our life.

    In another blog I read (A Simple Marriage) which I found via this blog (thanks Teresa) reminded me that what you focus your attention on is what you see. If all you see is the challenges in your life, it is easy to convince yourself that you have a hard and challenging life. On the flipside if you focus on all the great things in your life, then you can realize that you have a great life.

    As for me and my house we will choose to focus on the great things in life.

  2. TJ
    Jun 17, 2009

    I didn’t time this post for Father’s Day, but this discussion seems appropriate for us to consider now. I just viewed an inspiring video that challenges each man to be a good man, a blessing to his family.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQIQA6s2_Hw

  3. Ryan
    Jun 17, 2009

    I agree with the statement about good men helping a marriage out and making the wife’s job easier while bad men would do the opposite.

    I disagree with David about others’ difficult situations not being the fault or problem of another. I think that’s a typical attitude in a recluse society where we not only fail to act to prevent suffering, but we then blame said misfortune on who we consider the offending individual–the person in trouble.

    I feel for this lady. One could assume her choices were poor. And one also sees that the actions of her husband were debilitating. I’m glad the author could see past some of the exterior.

    Challenges and trials have been on my mind lately, and I’ve made a few conclusions. One is that challenges in themselves don’t strengthen us or make us bitter. That’s still a personal choice. Unfortunately, challenges often make that choice a difficult one to make. Because of this lady’s actions and those of others, she is stuck. Her desperation hangs on every word. Her trails right now make it nearly impossible to function, I’m guessing.

    Such challenges often make us apathetic, as we’re hindered from choosing either bitterness of a resolve to overcome. Bitterness makes it worse and and strength is a fantasy.

    Like David says, she needs a friend. She needs a way out. She needs to be recognized and understood. And for those of us living the high life in lala land, I’ll offer my second conclusion which is simply this: that when everything is okay we need to strengthen our resolve, prepare our minds and hearts for trials–it’s in the quite before the impending storm that one’s resolve and character must be refined. Make that decision now while you can, because when the storm comes preparation is over.

  4. Raya
    Jun 17, 2009

    I see both the perspectives. At times my husband adds greatly to my burdens, at other times he makes it so easy to handle the challenges of mothering special needs children.

    I have found that not only do the men need to be of good character- but they need their wives to believe and act as if they are of great worth. Quite often if we behave that way towards them, then they begin to realize they want to be and then begin to become that way. I call this cheerleading. Some men need it more then others and sometimes even with cheerleading the man chooses to ignore it and makes his wife’s life miserable.

    The divorce rate among the parents of children with autism is at 80-90%. When you have a special needs children it is so easy to see how simple “obvious at the time” choices can lead to situations in which one or both spouses feel alienated and at odds with each other.

    Luckily, we used this as a rallying cry- my husband and I often used the call “All hands on deck.” when the situation created by these challenging children required both of us to be present and accounted for. We realized that any sanity required 2 parents to share the burden- each in their own way and we often joked that if either one of us were left alone with them for more then a few hours hours at a time that we would consider it grounds for divorce.

    The children did grow out of that stage 🙂

  5. Alicia Johnson
    Jun 17, 2009

    I think it is important to realize when we look at anyone’s life–whether we think they have it easy or hard–and realize that we don’t know the whole story. Those who look like they have it really easy may have struggles or pain that isn’t showing at the moment. I think that those of us who are blessed with moments of relative ease shouldn’t be made to feel guilty, but simply be grateful for what we have and give what we can to those in more difficult circumstances. On the road to becoming a “good woman,” I think complacency is a hard pitfall not to trip over.

  6. epz
    Jun 17, 2009

    1) I love the verse from the LDS hymn that says, “In the quiet heart is hidden Sorrow that the eye can’t see. Who am I to judge another? I just don’t think that we can say about someone else, you have it so easy. You just don’t know.

    2) I think it goes both ways. I think wives and mothers can make it easier for their husbands or they can add to the burden as well. And I think we need more of both good women and good men in this world.

  7. “Much of what I write is my process of moving past my negative emotions from a hard experience toward a place of understanding and growth.”

    This is very apparent in your writing, TJ, even to someone like me who has never met you in person and certainly doesn’t know your whole story. Thanks for the raw honesty in this post, in particular.

    You’ve also gathered a very thoughtful audience here–reading their comments and insights really extended your ideas in the best possible ways. A great example of blogs at their best.

    Finally, it’s interesting how people who aren’t in a geographic community together can move and think in concert with one another. Reading your post, and Ryan’s comment in particular, and then thinking about the two posts I’ve written so far this week, I’m amazed at how they complement and bring new meaning to one another.

  8. T Jacobson
    Jun 18, 2009

    Wow! This one really struck a chord, nicely done. I think that there is an important principle to be remembered as we look at challenges. Our loving Heavenly Father knows us better than wwe know ourselves and gives us two promises. The first, that we never have to do it alone, He is always willing to walk us through, if we ask. The second is that he will not allow us to face a challenge that he has not prepared us to handle. I have been through experiences that others have said “I couldn’t do it”, and I might have said that before it happened to me. But when faced with a particular challenge, with the Lord’s help, a little faith, patience, tears and perseverance, the history of individuals that make up humanity have proven they can handle anything. So before you judge one person’s life as easy, hard or idyllic, understand that we all carry our challenges differently and have been prepared for them. And a little grumbling doesn’t mean we are not handling them, in fact, it may be the way we are handling them.

  9. Terresa Wellborn
    Jun 19, 2009

    Deep thoughts.

    I felt a bit similarly after I wrote a blog post about choosing joy. http://thechocolatechipwaffle.blogspot.com/2009/05/choosing-joy-parable-of-kitchen-table.html

    I feel that no matter what our circumstance: crappy marriage, abusive husband, concentration camp or cancer survivor…etc etc., we can make the choice to use that experience and hole to grow out of or to stay in. It is our choice.

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