New York, New York, USA midtown Manhattan skyline over Hell's Kitchen at dawn.

The Truth Is, I Don’t Know Your Struggle

A few nights ago a friend reached out to me, dismayed that as Serendipity I am not shining a light on the real struggles many parents face every day. I fail to talk about the daily grind many face to put food on the table, to carve out quality time with their children, if they even have a chance to see their kids at all.

For a moment, I admit, I felt like lashing out. Although I knew she was giving me her thoughts with and out of respect, I was really hurt. Frankly, I was also confused, because I certainly struggle with things beyond dropping my full Venti Starbucks Latte* all over the bathroom before Girl’s ballet class.

*Yes, that happened. Funnily enough, I don’t think I posted about it. Because it was a day that was full of highs and lows and in the end, there is no use crying over spilled coffee. 

Make no mistake, I know my life is pretty fecking amazing. I am married to a man I truly love (even when I’d like to throat punch him), who blessed me with two fantastic and outrageous children. We are lucky that he has a good job, which provides for us to be comfortable, and for me not to have to work outside of the home. He’s also in a union, which provides us affordable access to good health insurance. And that is truly fortunate, because I have been laid up with one broken/torn piece or another for the better part of a year. It also allows us to address the issues that have come up with The Rebels.

But honestly, what took me by surprise was that whether or not I struggle, or what I struggle with isn’t really relevant.

Jaime Grayson (TheBabyGuyNYC) often replies to comments he receives with “I don’t know your struggle.” And while he often does so as a humorous response, it’s honestly the most accurate thing anyone can say.

Every day each of us will struggle. With what and how we chose to handle it, those are things that an outsider can never really speak to.

I don’t know your struggle. This doesn’t mean I don’t care about it. I am glad to listen, should you chose to tell me. What it means is, I don’t have the experience of your life to put this moment in context. Without meaning this to be dismissive, I frankly don’t see “the struggle” as the total of your life’s story. And while it may be real, my struggle isn’t all of my story.

By way of example, SisterCat (who is like my sister and is cool with my referring to her by that name), is a single mom. I cannot imagine being in her shoes. Single parenthood is literally my worst nightmare. However, it’s the only situation she’s known as a mother. As it happens, she lives near her own parents, and has (in my view) an incredible support system of local friends.

In contrast, neither Hubs’ nor my families are remotely local. And because of his job, we have moved away from the family of friends that we have here in NYC. So for us, there’s no one who can watch the kids in a pinch. Childcare is paid for, and not cheaply. This is not a complaint, it is the story of our normal life. I’m sure there are times SisterCat cannot imagine dealing with my circumstances.

For all the similarities between SisterCat and I, for all the times we chat and laugh & bitch about our kids, motherhood is different for each of us. If she makes choices that I would not make, I can’t honestly say I understand or don’t, because I can never walk in her shoes.

After some thought, this was my reply to my friend who called me out: “I would say that for the most part, I am not focusing on more than finding the bright spots. [I’m] looking for the humor in all of it. I’m blessed in lots of ways. But the fact is that I struggle with not crying my eyes out over my pain and over all the bad shite. Instead, I truly try to shine out the light I want to find.”

So if you think I’m all rainbows and kittens, let me drop some truth on you. I am not always nice. In person, I am probably too loud, and I’m certain I yell too often and too loudly at my children. I swear like the sailor’s daughter I am, and I’m terrible about watching my language around my own children. The Rebels each have their own struggles, and they test my weaknesses, often without even meaning too. I pray every day for more patience. I cry, often, in frustration. I get mad & I vent & I do my best to let my anger go. I apologize. A lot.

I’ve said before, I’m not trying to blow sunshine up your pipes. Well, maybe by sharing #SunriseInToddlerville and #SunriseInRebelshire photos all the time I am, actually. The thing is, each morning I wake up, I roll over, and I look outside. Every dawn is different. Every day is different.

That IS my perspective. That is MY goal: To see each day new. It is my choice to not focus my energy and attention on the negatives. I cannot change what came before today. I can own my part. I can learn from it and move forward. Every day I try and be the smile in the crowd. I try to keep an open mind and an open heart. Each day I try, and when I fail, and when I fall, I take what I need to recover. Then I try again.

If you follow me on social media you’ll probably know that EVERY week I post about my #OnWednesdaysWeWearPink campaign. What started as a reminder for myself that I am part of the fight against breast cancer has grown to something larger. I still want to call on everyone (guys and gals alike) to check their humps for lumps. But early on I recognized that it was a weekly reminder to empower myself.

In turn, it has become my weekly reminder to everyone: #BeFierce, #BeKind, #BePositive. #BeTheLight or #BeTheLightYouWantToSee.  The last week in thinking about all the ways we each battle through our days I decided to add  #YouAreWorthFightingFor to my list of reminders.

So do I hope that I’m creating a space that brings joy or humor or in some small way is a bright spot in your day?Absolutely. 

Do I think I need to enumerate all the things that could be holding you down, making you want to hide under your covers and give in? Nope.

Just know that someone believes You Are Worth Fighting For

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