My friend Michelle one time used the phrase “First World Problem” when we talking about how heated Mommy Blogging discussions can get about parenting methods. Attachment v/s Cry It Out can spark huge debates online. Nursing v/s Breastfeeding can do the same. And don’t get me started on natural childbirth…I still often feel like I’m not much of a woman because I wanted the c-section with AndyZ! Yet, as Michelle so efficiently described it, we live very privileged lives if we have enough already taken care of (food, health, shelter) that we can get emotionally worked up about these topics. Because the rest of our human needs are taken care of, these are our First World Problems.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the earthquake in Haiti. About how ridiculous I feel for bitching and moaning about not getting enough recognition in my house for the work I do. I mean…I have a house to clean. I have food to cook. I have children who need baths and are not dying on the streets of infections that could have easily been treated with a quick stop at the pediatrician one day. I don’t have to worry about staying alive, so I choose to use the time wisely by complaining about the 20lbs I still need to lose. I stressed out this week when I thought my DVR forgot to record House. And then I stayed awake in bed that night thinking about the children who now have no parents, and the parents who now have no children. How they survived the quake but instead of properly grieving for the loved ones they lost, they have to figure out how they’re going to survive. Where are they going to get shelter? Food? Clean Water? Medicine? They can’t even mourn the loss of their loved ones properly because there’s not time, room, facilities for proper burials. But even if there was…what good would it do with so many deaths? And here I am…griping at my husband about our stupid DVR.
Obviously we can’t spend ever waking moment feeling guilty that we just happened to be born into a privileged situation. And just because we’re blessed doesn’t mean we can’t bitch and moan and complain about getting stains on our “Life Is Good” shirt, or losing one of our favorite hiking socks. But with those images still all over the news, and the telethon from Friday playing on my iPod, I can’t stop thinking about the trivial things in my life that I let upset me, and how they are all First World Problems. I am having trouble with my usual trivial whining (which I do A LOT of, in case you were wondering) because that voice in the back of my head keeps saying: Quit Your Bitchin’.
But…what should I do instead? Obviously we can’t donate gobs of money or time to charity, so I can’t do any real good for these people. Yet the guilt…it’s still keeping me awake at night. The desperate need inside my heart to be a better person, appreciate the blessings in my life, these things have become so strong since the earthquake. I keep telling myself it will all fade as time passes and I’ll be able to get back to complaining about my First World Problems: GUILT FREE! But do I want to? Do I want the images from Haiti to fade from my memory just so I can feel better about bitching about things in my life that are really NOT A BIG DEAL. Because I went through the same emotional crisis after Katrina, and the Tsunami. But those images eventually faded allowing me to go back to my trivial problems and treating them like they ARE VERY IMPORTANT. (Which they’re not.) Or do I want to find a way to take those images this time and use them to make me a better person? Is that even possible?
I’m just wondering if any of you find yourself thinking about these things in the wake of big disasters? Do you find yourself looking at your blessed life (because we are all so very blessed) and feeling guilty for bitching about it? My favorite thing about Torrie’s new site is her About Page where she says, “My old blog had the word â€œHATEâ€ in the title. I complained a lot. I decided it was time for me to be more positive, more grateful, and set a better example for my daughter.” That is where I’m at. I want to be a better example to my kids and show them with my actions how lucky we really are. Do you do like I do and just wait for all of the guilt you feel after these catastrophic events to fade with time? Or have you ever actually made changes in your life to help resolve the guilt? Or, is this one the many problems unique to me and my extreme guilt issues? Because that wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.