Us vs. Them Mentality – We All Have it Rough

It’s been my experience, over the course of my life, that women are not always the most supportive of one another.  So many are insecure, constantly comparing themselves to the next woman to round the corner.  Even if the next woman to pass by is a friend.  As a result, I have only a select few close women friends.  Women can be so catty.  So critical.  So ugly to one another.  I want genuine friendships, with strong women.  Women with confidence.  A friend who knows what she brings to the world and can see another women’s value as well.  Not one who brings ugliness to my life.  I do not have time for that.

Yet, I had an ugly experience the other night.

I ran into a mother from my neighborhood, more an acquaintance than a friend, at Coco’s parent teacher conference, one evening this week.  I recently shared that I started a new job.  My neighbor, in front of my children, her children, my husband, and the teacher, congratulated me on my new job.  She then asked me a few questions about what I am doing and how it is going, returning back to work after so long.  I answered her, honestly.  So many will reply to a question as this with a simple answer.  Well…..I never have a simple answer.  I always have a story.  Never ask me a question.  At least not if you are looking for a yes or no answer.  I rarely give them.

I shared how it has been quite a transition, working again after seven years of not.  And how I am trying to make the addition of working seamless to my family.  The importance of it not impacting their lives.  I shared that I had worked three hours that day, grocery shopped, and that it had been a busy day.  This is where the ugliness began.

My neighbor, proceeded to tell me, “If you wanted to have a rough day you should try being a teacher, during Parent Teacher Conference week, where they have to work until 8pm to get all their conferences in.  After spending an entire day teaching a classroom full of boisterous children.”  She said, “I’m sure many of us would be happy to trade you in your busy life.”  She said it tongue in cheek and chuckled.

I did not chuckle.

First off, allow me to say, I imagine it is a difficult few days for the teachers during Parent Teacher Conferences.  Long days, no matter what profession, are difficult.  I also imagine, simply in general, that teaching children, many of whom do not have manners, nor are at grade level to be taught what they need to know, is a very difficult job.  Hence why I only took classes for one semester in college to be an Early Elementary Education teacher.  Yes, I toyed with the idea of being a teacher myself and then very quickly decided that I would not be cut out for that job.

Let’s talk about other professions.  I mean, everyone who works, outside the home, has a lot on their plate.  Yet, you know what else, those of us who work inside our home also have a lot on our plate too.  Regardless if we work for a company, or, we work for our family.  Or, perhaps, in my instance, you work for both.  Let’s face it, being an adult is hard work.  We could argue as to which job is the most difficult.  Which job takes the most out of a person.  Who has it the roughest.  I prefer to think that none of us have a cake walk.  Again, it is part of being an adult.  Yet, why do we have to tear one another down and say, “My job is more difficult than yours.”?

My week consisted of working 17 hours, volunteering at the school for a total of 4 hours, between the Library, Coco’s classroom, and Lou’s classroom.  I grocery shopped – which takes about an hour and a half, door to door.  I also started Physical Therapy this week, that took up an hour and a half of my time as well.  Oh, and my children had Friday off school as a result of Parent Teacher Conferences.  Which means my children were gone from home only 26 hours this week.  Between working, volunteering, grocery shopping, and PT, I can account for 24 hours of my time of that 26.  That left me with 2 hours to do something I wanted.  Ahem, rather, do stuff around my house.  With those hours I know that I stretched, per my Physical Therapist’s request.  I also know that I did dishes.  Those never seem to do themselves.  Oh, and I did laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.

I realize, full well, that I have a pretty cushy life.  I got a job because I wanted to.  Not because I had to.  I find it to be very rewarding.  Yes, I am home all day.  But, you know what, when I am not working I spend my time cleaning the house, doing laundry, doing yard work, shoveling the snow, gathering up the garbage, scheduling well child Dr. appts, paying bills, making certain the children have money for lunch, packing sack lunches, giving the cat her medicine, changing the litter box, making certain everything is where it needs to be with my son’s baseball team (I am the Team Mom, and, trust me, this alone is like a job!), on and on and on.

I receive very little help.  Which, really, for the most part, I am OK with.  I am home.  This is my job.  Yet, you know what, until you walk in my shoes, and, you know everything that I accomplish, on a daily basis, with minimal assistance, of any kind, please do not judge me and suggest that, “I’m sure many of us would be happy to trade you in your busy life.”

 And one more little important thing to note.  My family does not wish for me to work.  My children are supportive enough.  Yet, don’t like to hear me say, I need 20 minutes to get some work done.  My husband, no, he does not want me to work.  Not at all.  He finds very little, if any, value in it.  Which means I try hard to have my work done before he gets home from his job.  Completely seamless.  Transparent.  That is what I feel is required of me, expected of me.  I feel as if my husband would prefer that his life continued to exist almost as if I never even got a job.  Have you any idea how difficult that is?

Oh, and guess what….once my neighbor decided to insult my new job and my level of busyness, Coco’s teacher and my husband began to chime in as well.  Chiding me about how difficult my life must be.

Why do so many feel the need to judge one another’s life and/or experiences?

When someone tears one person down does it really build them up to thinking and feeling that they are better?

I find this all so sad.  This mentality that my life is rougher than yours.  I wonder what sort of world we would live in if we were simply more supportive of one another.  And caring.  Until these things occur, I will continue to attempt to surround myself with genuine, caring, confident people who can see my value and worth and realize that my accomplishments do not threaten their own.  And, in return, I too will see their value and worth, and do my best to tell them so.  For all of us to have value, be appreciated, and worthwhile.  It doesn’t have to be Us. vs Them.  You vs. Me.  We don’t have to figure out who has it worse.

Really we don’t.

Originally Written 14Nov15

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