Someone in my twin mom group posted a link to a list of 20 things that make having twins different from having children close together in age. The list is meant to be a funny way of venting a touch of frustration.
But in the comments, a mom admonished the writer for not being grateful for what she has. The commenter had lost one of her twins and spoke of the sorrow of watching one grow up while only seeing the ghost of the other. Had this post and comment not been over two months old, I would have been tempted to reply to her about how I had lost both of my first set of twins, she should be grateful she at least got to bring one home.
But what good would it have done to say that? If I had said that, would someone else have come in behind me about how her miscarriage lead to a hysterectomy so I should be grateful that I had the opportunity to try again whereas she did not? And on and on the line of misery could go.
What is the purpose of this phrase? The only purpose I can figure out is to shame another person for expressing her frustrations. No matter what your life is like, it has some frustrations. That's simply a truth of existence. And along with that truth, it will also always be true that someone has it better than you, and someone else has it worse than you.
Gratefulness doesn't entertain. Gratefulness does not help someone else feel less alone when they are having a rough time. Gratefulness does not help you find solutions to your problems. For those reasons, gratefulness is private. Frustration is public. Frustration pushes us forward, bonds people together, it entertains. I will never be ashamed of my frustrations. I will always know that someone else is looking at my life and wanting what I have just as I'm looking at someone elses life and wanting what they have.
The next time you are tempted to shame someone by insisting that they be grateful for what they have, ask yourself why you want to do that. Ask yourself who in the chain of misery would say the same damned thing to you and how it would make you feel when they did. Then ask yourself if saying that phrase will actually benefit anyone in any way.
I'll state for the record that I am grateful for what I have. You don't have to tell me to be grateful. I have two babies that got through the preemie stage with no ill side affects, who I can anticipate growing into beautiful, healthy adults. As grateful as I am, I will still acknowledge and publicly work through my life frustrations, and I won't feel ashamed for doing so.