oh hey. can’t we just recognize that not everyone needs to be exactly like us? sigh…

I’m frustrated. Mostly with people who assume that everyone should be able to live a certain way. That there is a choice. Or that a certain way of living is better, or more heroic than another.

I’m just me. I don’t want a parade. I just want options, and to be able to say no to certain lifestyles without judgement or side-eye.

I’m what I’ve been calling post-married, because there isn’t a real term for what I am. I have kids. But my life is vastly different than that of a single mom. I have a great support system, I co-parent with my kids’ dad, and I have so much help. I’m so lucky. It wasn’t so much a choice though. I just got dealt a good hand, and then the flop was fantastic. Not everyone can live how I do. I don’t expect it. I’m just grateful for what I have.

But my privilege isn’t total, and this all works out other ways too.

If you have a partner who lives with you, and shares stress, expenses, debt, and chores with you, then we live different lives. Neither is easier or better, but they also can’t really be compared. They aren’t the same, and you can’t apply the good or bad from one to the other.

Which is ok! Different is ok. I don’t get a medal for surviving my way, and neither do you. We just live out different lives.

I have privilege as a white person. I have areas where my privilege lessens as a woman. If you are a white man, we don’t experience things that look the same in the same way that I do. If you are a woman of color, then your experience will be differnt than mine in seemingly similar situations. We need to listen to each other and stop invalidating the experiences of others just because ours have been different. We are all living in a system that will benefit some, and let others down. It sucks. We need to pay attention when someone tries to tell us their story.

That’s something we have destroyed in our culture.

We think there is a right and a wrong way to be alive. We think that there are valid and invalid ways to get through the day. Barring criminal behavior, behavior that hurts other people, that isn’t true. And even then there are circumstances that drive people to do things that we can’t comprehend. Life is so complicated.

When people are hungry, or tired, or lonely, or scared, they make choices. Sometimes those choices seem bad to us, but it’s hard for me to understand getting to that point because my web of support is weaved so tightly.

Everyone survives hard things differently.

I buy my food. I buy because I work three jobs, and I covet my down time. My mom recently asked me what my stress levels were, and I told her never below a five. Which is true. Normally, they are closer to an eight. My down time is when I read. When I let myself meditate and destress. Without it I’d explode. Growing my own food would add stress to my life. If it’s relaxing for you, that’s great! That’s a way we are different.

I had one natural birth, and one c-section. I breastfed both kids. But one only two months because my breastmilk was killing him. Your natural labor wasn’t better than my c-section, it was just different. You co-sleep, I don’t, and both of those things are ok. Bottles and boobs both provide nourishment. Neither of us is winning Mother of the Year because that isn’t a real thing. We’re both just doing our best for who we are as individuals, and for our kids as individuals. We don’t deserve more or less praise either way.

If you choose not to have kids, I respect that. I won’t try to change your mind. But it’s hard for me when people who don’t have kids talk about parenting like it’s easy, or like there’s a magic formula for fixing what they perceive as holes in my parenting, or like I gave up my life to be a mom. Can we try just to recognize that our lives are differnt but both just as valid and fulfilling? We can’t know precisely what things are like for each other, we don’t have all of the answers to fix each other’s problems, but I think we can admit that we’re glad for what we have.

Why begrudge someone’s happiness just because it doesn’t look like ours?

I think we’d be better off if we all just saw each other as whole beings.

Different doesn’t mean broken.

Different doesn’t mean better.

We aren’t the same, and thank goodness. We need different people to fill different roles to make the world work. I don’t want to be a teacher or a doctor or a farmer. I’m glad other people do though! You guys are great! Keep doctoring and growing food and teaching people things.

I’m going to keep being me. I’m going to work, write, read, bike, and go to the grocery store. I’m going to use my extra money to travel, and I’m going to feel good about that. I’m going to be a mom, but I’m going to do that my own way; define it how I want.

I want to know you. You the individual. I want to be there for you and help you. I want you to know me. I don’t want to change you, but I don’t necessarily want to be like you either. I think those things can coexist. I think we can coexist.

This is me. Show me you.