I Got 99 Problems

As I stare at my calendar and map out our summer, I catch glimpses of Facebook statuses and mommy blogs plotting out the complexities of planning that gloriously warm and sunny time off from school. For some it's the ultimate mommy challenge and she who has the fullest calendar, can wear herself out the most or has the most twisted schedule wins.

It comes with an inevitable silent online sigh and the implication that juggling the extra curricular life of a child can be extremely more complicated during the carefree days of summer.

I'm in the same boat. With several upcoming trips to contend with, I'm weighing the highs and lows of summer schedules for Merrick. I have petty concerns of regret over picking a camp that starts at 8am in the summer and I wonder if I'm being selfish for only choosing camps that I can get to via a drive-thru Starbucks.

And in the mix of all the social media feigning over summer stress, I want to anonymously remind those Internet strangers that I have one greater logistical mess on my hands with which to contend. And it's not a conflict between Johnny's soccer camp and Suzy's art camp having overlapping pick-up times, or Lucy not getting into jewelry camp on the week that worked best with our trip to St. Barts with the kids.

The self-pitying me wants to remind all those stressed out moms that I have to plan camp around treatment. I know that I'll be back on a full dose of chemo this summer, and that will make camp an every-other-week-only option. It will make doing anything outside of the house an every-other-week-option, as I return to the land of the very sick and bedridden for days on end.

But I'm not the one-upping type who needs to make my problem greater than hers or theirs, and shove it with guilt-producing power in anyone's face. For all those times I want to counter someone's complaint with my greater argument, I don't. But I often feel the urge to remind people that public complaining can be offensive to people with struggles they might not take into consideration.

I can see all of you mentally running through the last 3 months of Facebook statuses and wondering if any of them might have offended me. Don't worry, I'm just generalizing here and casting my net across the entire web, in an effort to stick up for people who wince when the next person whines about something that is so paltry. And I'm not one of those overly emotional or sensitive types that takes things personally. Ain't nobody got time for that.

We are all entitled to vent and you can tell me to unfriend you or stop following you if I don't like it. That's not my objective. I've just noticed that since I got the cancer label slapped across my forehead, I'm less likely to publicly complain about the petty things of the world. They do matter in our own little lives, but in relation to everything going on, they seem frivolous when I take a step back.

Too many times I want to comment on someone's Tweet or status or blog post and ask them to go to Target and buy a Facebook Filter for reasons beyond oversharing. They need to think about what they are saying and take their readers, friends, followers and viewers into consideration. They need to ask themselves if what they have to complain about is really a worthy problem in the grand scheme of humanity.

Am I here to point the giant Mickey Mouse finger at you and tell you I'm offended at the headache you just told your 1,526 followers about? No. I know that telling the world your hurt lifts your spirit enough to perhaps make you feel just a little bit better. Knowing that somewhere out there, in the vast reaches of Al Gore's Internet, someone hears your cry or can potentially offer you help is the beauty of social media.

What I'm asking is that you put your life into perspective before impulsively and superficially reaching for the keyboard and getting on a soapbox that will only give angst to someone else. And if you must, please, I beg you, try and at least be funny about it.

I must remind myself to put my own life into perspective on a daily basis. I, too, can start to complain about how hard it is to feel nauseated or tired day in and day out. Or lug around an infusion pump at my waist as I'm doing at this very moment. But I know that there is some mom out there in far worse shape, with far less of a future and far less ability to do what I can still do. There is always a hurt greater than our own.

If anything, cancer has the most cliché way of making you focus on what really matters. It's also given me a filter like I've never had before; to always know that there are people that I come in contact with that are hurting, suffering, needing and often hiding pain that far exceeds any in my own life.

So is the point to tell everyone to stop complaining? No. Kyle will be the first one to put me in my place after reading this, as I LOVE to complain in the privacy of my own home. Just the other day I pulled a box of Keurig cups out of my Target (reusable) bag and realized (in my excitement over seeing 2 new Peet's Coffee brews on the shelf) that I accidentally grabbed a box of vanilla hazelnut K-cups in my blind giddiness. There I was, complaining that I now owned an entire box of flavored coffee I'd probably never drink. I wanted to slap myself in the face with my #whitegirlproblems and bring myself back into the real world.

Or that day I ran out of sparkling water and complained about having to drink actual tap water like a regular person. Holy cow, who am I to complain when there are people dying from water born illnesses obtained from the very water they had to walk 2 miles to get? #whitegirlproblems.

My point is for you to think before you share with the world.

I know that putting together the family calendar can be stressful. Complain away.  But ask yourself what your motivation is in complaining in a public forum, and is that motivation really worthwhile and beneficial. This world needs less defeat and more inspiration, less complaining and more affirming, less tragedy and more laughter, less whining and more doing, less Debbie Downer and more Rachel Dratch (and Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Kristen Wig).

Like JAY-Z said, I got 99 problems and a, um, never mind.


Carrie said...

Hi Sarah,
This is Carrie, Charles's gf. Wishing well this summer as you embark on another round of chemo. You and Kyle and the kids are always in our thoughts.

And, the other day I was behind a woman in the post office that was being quite hostile and rude. Then she "apologized" with the following excuse: "My wine fridge broke this morning, so I'm a little off today."

Really?! That's what I call a Dallas-girl problem.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Carrie. I'm not complaining. Gotta do what I gotta do. Even if it means drinking tap water sometimes.

Carrie S. said...

I just saw Carrie's post. How funny! Really!? Being wine-deprived is her excuse!?