Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Life’s tough when you’re five. . . or 39

I was walking through Target with Stella, then five, and she was asking me for something. I don’t even know what, but I said “no.” And then I followed it up with the ever popular Mom line “life is tough when you’re five isn’t it?” She stopped, looked at me with a deadpan expression on her little face and said “Yeah, tell me about it, Mom.”

I have similar conversations with my 9 year old, Sophia, who tells me on a daily basis, how difficult her life is. How considerable her problems are, and that I just don’t understand. For the most part, I don’t understand, because to me, her problems seem quite small. The significant part of that thought is “to me.”

It occurs to me that we are all so selfish with our own problems. Our problems are superior to everyone else’s – to us. My Mom is fond of pointing out what could be worse than what I’m facing. I usually respond with something like “Yes, Mom, and I could have no legs or arms either.” I know what she’s trying to get across to me. I know that there are problems bigger than mine. But the point I am trying to make is that -- today, this problem, the one I’m dealing with this very minute, is a very big deal to me, right now. And rationally trying to compare it to something much worse will not make it go away. It’s a good theory however.

Quite often, I think we choose to plod selfishly through our own lives. We spend more time thinking about our own circumstances than anyone else’s. Comparing our own plight to others, either consciously or unconsciously saying things to ourselves like “if only they knew how good they have it” or “they wouldn’t be complaining if they were going through what I am going through” or “she calls that a problem?”

Should we validate the problems of others, even if we believe them to be trivial? Yes, we should. Should we rate each others troubles based on what we decide is worthwhile? No, we shouldn’t. It is my responsibility to step outside my selfish nature, and listen when Sophia tells me her life is “awful.” Even if I don’t believe it to be true, at that moment, to her, it very much is. And Stella truly believes that being her little self, is quite tough at times. We should all listen supportively when people we care about are having what they consider to be trials and tribulations in their lives. We should try to not judge, but instead empathize.

Remember, my big problem may be a little problem to you. But it’s mine. And to me it’s worthy.

1 comment:

  1. I consider myself a good listener of my friends' trials and tribulations! I think they do the same for me. Sometimes their problems take precedence and sometimes mine do...its a give and take...