perspective schmerschmecktive

You know how after you have a baby and your friends who don't have babies say things like, "I'm soooo tired today," or "My to-do list is so long I don't know how I'm going to get everything done," and you're like "ooooh, I'm so sorry! That sounds hard," and you make all the right noises and you might even pat their shoulders a little.

But you're not really shoulder-patting. You are extending your hand to slap the body of another human being. You are violently striking someone who you call a friend. You're just doing it very sneakily.


Because you remember what it was like to define "a hard day" as the day when you couldn't get your to-do list done. When office politics dragged you down. You remember, yes, that shit is hard. Respect.

But then you had kids. And "hard" became exponentially harder. And you cannot help but hate your previous self for all the times you complained about what a pain it was to get on an airplane before you had kids. You cannot help but think, as your childless friend talks about her hard day, mmmkay did anyone shit on you today? Did another human being spray actual shit on your face and torso today? No? Okay, my day was harder.

I call this phenomenon "perspective."

Perspective is when you realize that the only easy day was yesterday.

The same thing happens when you have your second baby. People who are just having the first one are talking about how hard their lives are. And you remember, yeah, that shit is hard. Respect.

But now that you have two kids, "hard" went right the fuck ahead and got exponentially harder again.

Perspective. It makes you feel like a warrior. It makes you want to pound grain alcohol and Oreos. It makes you long for simpler times.

It's also, like, completely stupid.

I have caught myself making comparisons among the moms I know, wondering does she have it harder than I do?

I make a mental scoreboard. Chicken goes boneless every time I go to put him in his car seat, but her kid still needs to be rocked to sleep. Buster is so sensitive to light that he can't sleep in the car, but her baby hates to be swaddled...

I know other moms who appear to have an easier life than I do - more help, more money, easier kids. I love and respect them for their hard work, but I also want them to acknowledge that my life is harder.

I  know other moms who appear to have a harder life than I do. My husband is home every night by 5:30 to help with dinner, bath, and bedtime. My family is healthy and free from peanut allergies. I love and respect these moms for their hard work, and I try to remember to acknowledge that their lives are harder.

The whole exercise of ranking the difficulty of our lives is pointless. For the following reasons:

1. Is this a competition that anyone wants to win? Great, thanks, everyone agrees, my life is by far the shittiest. Wheee...?

2.  The act of placing myself somewhere in the pecking order implies that I think it's okay to peck. Or get pecked. And I do not.

3. These rankings are based not on the reality of our lives, but on the appearance of our lives. These two entities are not the same thing. One is life, and the other is a performed fiction of a life, seen through my eyes and colored by my own experiences. I know nothing of the reality of my friends' lives. To say that I do would be like claiming that I'm a primatologist because I've watched a lot of Curious George cartoons.

So here it is, the truth of the matter, or at least the truth I'm trying to own today. Whether you have kids, dogs, a demanding career, or just a really high-strung parakeet:

Your life is mercilessly hard.

So is everyone else's.

Your life is blessed beyond compare.

So is everyone else's.

You do you.

I'll do me.

We'll all have a cocktail and get in bed before midnight and sleep hard enough that when we wake up and face a the new day we'll think, "I can do one more."


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