Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Suck it Up

I was all set to write a post in which I declared my shortcomings and threw in the towel where this acting thing is concerned. After all, I am two classes in to the semester and the professor has not yet declared me the best student he's ever had. Nor has he asked me where I've been all his life or why I am not on Broadway. This lack of positive feedback combined with the fact that "all the other kids know each other and I feel left out" leads naturally to my decision to move on. Yep. I'm a quitter. Not my best personality trait, I know.

On Saturday, Rob and I were at the beach, just the two of us. And I decided to open up and share my thoughts and feelings. As if that's a rare thing for me. So I said something along the lines of "Do you ever get bummed out thinking that you're never going to do anything amazing with your life?" Like write a book, or make an impressive career move, or be a star on the stage? Being the rational man that he is, he suggested 1) that raising two pretty awesome kids can be considered having done something amazing, and 2) what's the point of thinking about what you haven't done with your life when all along it's been your choice. And he's right, of course.

This conversation led to another in which I told him I'd read in an advice column a letter from a young mother of an 8-month child. She wrote that both she and her husband were unhappy with parenthood. Not just sleep-deprived or anxious about it, but downright miserable. She noted that this was obviously not something she could share with anyone else. Most folks don't think kindly of those who would like to undo the whole baby thing. My heart broke for her because I could have written that letter 16 years ago. Or 10 years ago. Alright. Probably five years ago. The point is, I could relate, especially to feeling alone. Wondering if you've made a huge mistake entering into motherhood is not something most women are comfortable confessing, even women like me who open up our lives like a book for others to read.

Rob's response to this went something along the lines of "And a woman definitely can't tell her mother how she feels in this situation, especially if her mother was of my mom's generation." Rob's mom--who turns 85 in December--would have told her daughters (and probably me, if I'd confessed), "Too late for that now. You have a child to raise. Get to it." My reaction to my husband's comment on behalf of his mother? Ouch. Harsh. But Rob continued the conversation by asking if that kick in the pants isn't what we do need to hear when we find ourselves in difficult situations.

In today's "you're okay, I'm okay" society, we're encouraged to share our every thought and feeling and to accept them for what they are. To reflect, meditate, indulge, and caress our emotions. We whiners will not be denied that opportunity. How dare we be told to suck it up and take responsibility for fixing what's wrong instead of wallowing in it!

I am conflicted in my reaction to my husband's comments. They certainly hit a bit too close to home, given that I'm a living, breathing example of one of those people who mulls over every emotion as if it's the key I need to unlock the rest of my life. I can see where that's not always the best decision. Perhaps I'd be better off just living instead of analyzing. But then again, what would I possibly blog about?

I'd love your thoughts on this. Should we stop coddling and instead call one other out when it comes to that which we allow to stymie us? Is it okay to extend sympathy/empathy only so far as to say "I get that you're bummed/unhappy/miserable, but this is life, so start living?" Or is the world cruel enough that we owe it to each other to be kinder and gentler, as George H. W. Bush suggested back in 1988? Maybe this whole trend toward emotional overindulgence is his fault. Well, it would be one more thing we could blame on the Republicans. But I digress. Tell me what you think.