The whinging chick at barbecues
I think that’s a given. Or a known. But although it is known that chicks whinge, not every (or many) guys seem to know what to do with that (beyond feel hounded, criticised or nagged) and not every (or many) woman accepts it’s OK for her to do that or always knows how to just be when you are not the whinger but the recipient of the whinge. Which is all cool I guess, and perhaps the easiest way to handle this would be to stop whinging. But I’m sorry. I can’t. I’m not really complaining. I’m just telling a collection of dramatic stories with certain aspects highlighted which (I think) demonstrate my point.
My point, most recently has been this. Parenting is hard. Going on holidays with lots of kids is kind of an oxymoron to the words holiday and relaxing. Blending families is hard. I need to talk about it. Most and best to my sisters or my friends or my sister-friends, but if they are not all available I will attempt to talk about it to anyone who might offer an ear. Or Facebook as a general recipient. Just for the purpose of sorting my way through all the conflicting thoughts I am having whilst simultaneously having a magnificent and epic family holiday and trying to parent lots of children, and have a relationship with a guy I see a pretty great future with and all in 90%+ humidity, away from home.
We had an epic holiday. I intend to write another story about it because it was amazing. The tropics are incredible. The landscape, the heat, the rain, the way to light filters through the green. The green. I am not used to so much green. The people. Watching my girls experience new things and navigate relationships. And whinge. Listening to my girl’s whinge and trying not to see them as ungrateful brats because they are just sorting their way through all the things they are thinking and feeling. It’s just that five kids and three adults is a lot of people with thinking and feelings to try to navigate. And sometimes I am brilliant at that, and sometimes I am not.
Once, many moons ago, I realised that I had been the whinging chick at barbecues at lot. I was unhappy in my marriage and the only place I seemed to be able to talk about that was socially. Once though, I sat through 2 hours of another friend and her marriage woes at a barbecue and left feeling sad and a bit shattered and I made a decision not to be that person anymore. And that if I was so unhappy I would change my situation. I didn’t plan to end my marriage, but in the effort required to change all the things that were not working, ending the marriage was the only thing that worked. And then I stopped whinging about him and us and just got on with doing what I needed to do be OK.
Right now I am not unhappy. Last night at a barbecue I was telling (I thought) a series of anecdotes about our recent family holiday – including getting caught in a flash flood, the time he saw a snake, trying to supervise 5 kids competing with each other in a swimming pool and the one fight we had in 15 days – and one of my (super lovely) friends said “But did you enjoy the holiday?” and I stopped and said “Have I been whinging a lot?’ and she said “A bit” and smiled in that way which didn’t make me feel judged, just loved, but I think perhaps I had worn her out. See I wasn’t seeking solutions. I would like it to be easier and I am impatient about that, and quite often I am selfish and want time and space to myself and I feel things deeply and I need to talk about that but sometimes my intent is misinterpreted. Not by her, just in general I mean. So I could stop, I could stop talking, but then I would be lost wondering if it was just me who felt what I felt.
Right now I am not unhappy, but I am sometimes scared. I have blended a family before and now I do not see those girls often, the ones who I considered to be my family too. When I was away on holidays some of my friends saw those girls and sent me photos of them having breakfast together and immediately I teared up. Because they are not my girls (but they are) and I miss them. And that is nothing to do with my old relationship or my new one, or the new children I am trying to blend with. It’s just sometimes I cannot handle the constancy of the needs of my own children or myself. Sometimes I am here right in the middle of my life doing what I need to, and sometimes I am somewhere else entirely.
Our one fight on holidays (which I think is pretty epic by the way, and a testament to his calm and patience) was after he asked me how I was going and I told him. Mind you, this was when we were camping out and had just spent 3 hours driving around without snacks (the landscape was amazing, I got to travel in a separate vehicle and talk station talk and not hear the whinging kids) and we were all tired from not much sleep, and I had just cooked dinner in the camp kitchen in the sweltering heat suspecting that none of the children would like the meal, and the kids were fracas. I’m not sure what I said but I’m pretty sure I whinged. A lot. And he heard me say all these things I do not think I said. And he took all that on board. And felt shitty. And then I was completely frustrated because I just wanted to have a whinge without hurting anyone’s feelings, and turns out I did. I may have also had a tantrum then, which was too much for everyone (tantrums do not count as whinging BTW, they are just tantrums and are not very effective forms of communication).
I think this is OK. I think it’s OK if it’s about trying to sort your way through all the thinking and feeling. It’s sometimes hard to share the intent though and not be interpreted as unhappy or unappreciative or ungrateful (especially when you are tired or premenstrual or haven’t had much of a chance to sort your way through all of it before the whinge by whinging to someone else first who is a women and totally gets where you are coming from). But sometimes I feel unhappy or tired or scared and it’s best I acknowledge all of that because the version of me who doesn’t? She is quiet. And I would be more scared of her. And all the things she is thinking and not saying.
Intent is everything. But sometimes you have to sort your way through everything you are thinking and feeling before you can even get to intent. It would be perfect it was the other way round. But if you always did everything with the right intent how would you know this?
Chicks whinge. It’s just a form of talking. Some of my funniest moments are mid-whinge. Like when I said I thought fireworks were a bit boring. I’m sorry. I can’t stop whinging. I’m not really complaining. I’m just telling a collection of dramatic stories with certain aspects highlighted which (I think) demonstrate my point. Fireworks do go on for a really long time though don’t they? It’s never the grand finale soon enough. And the kids whinge almost the whole time you’re watching. Especially the girls.