Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
See that cute little teeny tiny baby? That baby doesn’t know anything yet. You could really mess that up. So much pressure! The parents are responsible for turning that baby into a human, and for teaching that baby how to do everything — even things we think are instinctual that aren’t. Despite how smart humans are, we really depend on parents to do anything at all. I feel like other animals could just be born, and then live without much effort. Not humans, though, guys. Parents have to teach babies how to pee into the toilet. How crazy is that? They have to teach babies to chew! They have to make their baby play on its stomach so that its neck gets strong so it can hold its own head up. I mean, whoa. Don't mess up!
Honestly, you could teach a baby anything and it would just believe you were telling the truth because what does it know? Nothing. You could tell a baby that pillow was the word for door and that’s what they’d think until second grade when someone finally ruined it for them. Amy Poehler in an interview once said she let her son say “growm ups” instead of “grown ups” because she thought it was cute. I agree, that is really cute. But, that little baby boy is gonna grow up one day and his world is gonna be shattered because she tricked him!
Parenting seems hard. I still call my mom a million times a day and I always think about how when she hangs up with me, there are two other really needy people who need her attention, love, and advice. How exhausting. The truth is that no matter who raised you or how good your parents are, every single human has issues. Every one of them. Is that depressing news? I sort of feel like it’s great news because that means we’re all damaged goods together.
But everyone is messed up somehow. Some issues are more serious than others (how you define that, I don’t really know). Some issues might seem simple, considering the scope of everything going on in the world around us. I used to feel guilty for feeling bad about anything in my life. I felt like I wasn’t entitled to feel anything except grateful. I grew up with my health, a family, a home, and an education. I had straight hair and my parents paid for braces, and they taught me how to swim and a million other things. How could I possibly be unhappy? It felt like my personal unhappiness meant I was ungrateful, which was/is the last thing I wanted to be. I had a hard time sympathizing with my friends’ complaints about life (to be fair, like, 85% of the time they were whining about a boy, but it sounded desperate and also I didn’t go through puberty until senior year of high school, so I really wasn’t interested in what you were talking about) — and I had an even harder time sympathizing with myself. Sadness became guilt. I hate feeling guilty. Don’t you?
Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
Then my mom (because she’s a great mom) reminded me that perspective’s an important thing to have, but that that sort of guilt was useless. How real is that? She told me that I needed to allow myself to have feelings. She told me that I was allowed to be sad, I was allowed to be angry, I was allowed to be anything. That did not go down gracefully in the moment. I said something like, “You don’t understand anything! Leave me alone!” And then, I probably felt really guilty for screaming at her and for being difficult and mean and then cried and apologized. But, after all that, that’s when I tried to accept what she said and accept what I was feeling. And, I’ve been feeling feelings ever since!
That was some on point parenting, which brings me to my main point — I have great parents. I know that’s the best thing in the world. Here’s where I get confused, again — I am a very confused person. I am still flawed and full of issues. Intimacy? No, thank you! Anxiety that induces hives? Gross, but yes please!
Whose fault is this? Seriously, I want to know. How come I’m not just really well adjusted? I didn’t think there was that much depth in the thought of my parents being great, I just thought it was sort of a spoiled and funny thing to say until my hero (a hero to all of us!) Judy Blume responded and gave it new light. That’s the power of Judy. She just sheds light everywhere on everything all the time. How incredible (but also tiring) does that sound? Judy’s response was this: “That’s a real problem. Who to blame when you can’t blame your parents?” It is a real problem, Judy! What’s the answer? I don’t know that there is one. If you have one, any of you, please share it in the comments below. I sincerely want to know.
I’ve just come to think that life is really hard for everyone no matter who you are. Even once you've had your basic needs met, it’s still full of heartbreak, insecurity, rejection, failure, and all these things that are unfair for anyone to go through. Especially when you watch other people. Dealing with your own sadness sucks, but watching people you love be sad is the worst. That’s a whole other post. But, those times when you’re unhappy are why things like happiness, acceptance, and love are so great. Because we know what the alternative feels like. Hopefully having both sides leads us to compassion and empathy for other people. Hopefully it leads us to act kinder to everyone, because even those who look like they have everything on the outside really have struggle. It’s in our spirit to be supportive of others, but let’s try to put that into our daily actions a little more if we can. Am I preaching? Do I sound like I’m reading the menu at Cafe Gratitude and then just adding a little blah blah blah here and there? Maybe I am! Who cares! Cafe Gratitude knows what’s up. And, so does HelloGiggles. Let’s just be kind humans to each other.