I was talking to my grandmother the other day about my writing, and she said that she has renamed Kveller. She now refers to it as “Kvetcher.” We had a nice chuckle over that, but it did get me thinking.
She’s not wrong. We writers/Mommy bloggers do more than our fair share of kvetching about our children, our bodies, our partners, our schedules, our commitments, and any number of other issues that infuse our daily lives with stress and angst. It’s not often that you see posts up on Kveller (or other similar sites) talking about how great our children are, how much we love parenting, and how well we’re balancing the stress of competing demands.
This is not surprising; it’s merely a reflection of the human condition (and perhaps even more so of the Jewish condition). Misery may love company, but it thrives on platforms from which it can whine and groan its way into the living rooms of thousands of like-minded parents at the push of a button. But there’s more going on here than self-indulgent navel-complaining. There is truly something liberating about sharing your challenges, and then learning that you’re not alone. In this modern era of over-educated, high-achieving families, it’s easy to think you’re the only one who gets bored or sad or worried or pissed.
But I do think we’re missing something when we focus on what’s wrong or what feels bad. There is tremendous value in reminding ourselves of the times we get it right as parents, or our kids get it right, or the stars align and we make it through an outing to the beach without any tantrums or scrapes or fights. Those are the moments that sustain us in this craziness. And even though I’m the last person who wants to read about someone else’s fantastic day out, sometimes those stories need to be told.
So, as we head into Shabbat, I’m going to share two brief moments that happened recently and made me incredibly proud of my girls. I took them to the grocery store yesterday, and they each got to hold a lime. (I don’t know what it is about giving little ones something to hold on to, but it always seems to calm them down.) On the way back home, my little one dropped her lime, and started crying. Without even blinking, my toddler immediately handed hers over. I didn’t ask, I didn’t suggest. She did it on her own, because she knew her baby sister was sad, and she wanted to help her feel better.
This morning, the baby got her hands on both lovies. In the few seconds it took the toddler to go from zero to freak-out about her sister stealing her beloved giraffe, the baby crawled over and handed up a lovey. She had picked them both up so she could bring one to her sister.
From practicing standing and walking to talking and potty-training, there are many things that my girls do each day that make me proud to be their mother. But it is the small moments of empathy—of awareness for the feelings of other people—that almost bring me to tears. These are the interactions that reassure me that no matter how many rough moments we have together, we’re actually doing just fine.
So, whether or not you’re lighting candles tonight or taking some time off with your family, perhaps you could take a moment to reflect on the good moments of the week. Leave them in a comment here on Kveller.com, or share them with your family. And then, come Saturday night, we can all go back to kvetching.