Be a Rebel. Be a positive thinker.
I was standing with a bunch of moms once. I didn’t really know any of them. It was one of those weird city things where you end up in a group of random people and you eavesdrop on their conversation. They didn’t know each other that well either. Chit–chat ensued and they started to bond the only way they knew how. First, they bonded over their complaint about how hard parenting is, which I don’t wholly disagree with. Then they talked about how the weather was terrible, how they don’t get enough sleep, about the annoying things their spouses do, and (in a weird bragging sort of way) how much they had to do every day. Now, all of this is true in some capacity, but as they talked about these annoying and negative things, they gave power to the negative mood and it grew from there. I noticed one mom mention how she was against parents who were too soft on their kids, and I noticed another mom start snapping at her toddler to ‘be closer’ and ‘don’t do that’ almost immediately.
People hold sway over each other, and we all have a different style based on strong feelings and personal opinions, but we often forget that each one of us is doing our best as parents. Bonding over negativity and being judgmental seem to go hand-in-hand.
I have been VERY guilty of this. I am a weird mix of: 1- thinking I know all the answers, and, 2- hating confrontation of any sort so just agreeing (on the surface) with the crowd. I am an introvert that abhors chit-chat and the ‘getting-to-know-you’ conversations. They make me seize up inside and create ulcers. Deep conversation I love. Picking your brain on music, art, philosophy, your passion for something or making sense of our own lives- adore. So as a mom, I am ALWAYS completely out of my comfort zone with other moms and feel awkward. My kids will go to the playground and make instant friends with someone and the mom will come up saying “Is that one yours? How old?” and my brain screams “HERE WE GO AGAIN!” You can’t not talk to the other mom. If you don’t you are seen as a Snob or an Asshole and then your kid is labeled Tiny Snob or Little Asshole and all of a sudden she is shuttling her kid to the other side of the playground with “Oh honey, did you see these swings wayyyyy over here?” If you’re not a parent, you probably think I’m exaggerating. I’m absolutely not. I thought becoming a mom would suddenly make me this shiny extrovert with an invisible cape and invisible tiara. I would suddenly want to coffee all the time and have mundane conversations and approach people. Surprise! My personality stayed the same; I am just forced to push out of my comfort zone and, hopefully, grow as a person a little more each day.
But, and this is a big but….
What if we all connected over positive things instead of the negative??
Right now, if I am in a group of people (especially parents), and I say, “I got enough sleep and have an awesome amount of energy!”, I feel like a black sheep among the chorus of ‘I’m so tireds’ and ‘I’m tired toos’. What if it was reversed!?
What if we walked around looking for the positive? What if we reversed it? What if everyone walked around smiling a smile from true happiness and looking on the bright side? We could bond over being happy and having enough, for now, and gratefulness that we have it so good: food to eat, healthy legs to walk beside our kids, access to clean water, clothes on our backs, that we are blessed with kids that run us ragged. We could come from a place of cheerful health to help someone who was truly going through bad luck.
As it stands now, if I have nothing to complain about, I feel guilty and standoffish. This is not acceptable, and I am seen as a snob, I am then not relatable. I have now realized that a large part of our attachment to negativity is, most likely, marketing. Happy people buy less. Happy people NEED less. This is not good for business. Listen to a conversation where people bond over negativity- listen to how many times you hear, “Oh! You should buy…. it’s great and will solve that.” We must be aware of this and break this bitter cycle. We will never not need to buy stuff and we will never have ONLY positive things to say, but I am going to try to achieve more of a balance. Who is with me??
That said, I am going to try to be agreeable without agreeing, if that makes sense. I will ask why they feel that way without having to say I also feel that way. I will share that I have felt that way before, without having to say I don’t feel like that as often now. I will let them do the talking and I will do the listening. I am good at that when I can squelch the desire to needlessly fill up awkward empty spaces. They don’t have to be awkward silences, they are just the breathing room for thinking and listening.
So, be a rebel and look for the positivity today. I will be joining you.
If you’ve forgotten how to look on the bright side, here is a Classified video to help you out: