I was talking with one of my unmarried friends the other day and she mentioned something interesting to me. She was a little frustrated because she finds people assume she has lots and lots of free time just because she’s single. People at work say things like, “Oh, you can take care of this office party because you don’t have anything going on. I would help, but I’m so busy with the wife and kids!” People at church do the same thing—ask her to take on lots of extra activities and responsibilities because they assume as a single girl, she has lots of free time that married people don’t have. But the funny thing is, as a single girl working and providing for herself leaves very little free time at all.
Even though Darren and I both work full-time, being married give us the advantage of being able to split responsibilities. Every morning Darren makes breakfast and packs lunch; I always make dinner. Darren takes care of the bills while I do the laundry and we both go grocery shopping together. Neither one of us has to do everything around the house because we are able to split and share our household responsibilities; my single friend doesn’t have that luxury. She works full-time plus manages all her other responsibilities without help.
Her words resonated with me because I get frustrated by a similar problem when I talk to parents. I’ve had several moms say things to me about how nice it must be having so much free time and not having anything to do. Once when I was talking to a mom friend about how busy and tiring life is, she got irritated and asked me what I even had to do without kids. Um, other than work all day every day and cook and clean and everything else? Nothing, I have nothing to do at all ;] Now I do understand that my busyness is very different from a mom’s busyness. I may work all day and have plenty to take care of when I get home, but I don’t have kids pulling on me or needing all my time and attention.
The thing that bothers me though is that people assume your life is easy just because it’s different from theirs. I wish we would stop judging and comparing our different lives and respect the various roads we are each on. Assuming we are busier or have it harder than someone else isn’t helpful; it’s judgmental and belittling. How would a stay-at-home mom feel if I told her I thought her life was so easy because she gets to stay home and do whatever she wants all day? That isn’t fair. I don’t know what life demands from her and it isn’t fair to assume she is lazing around just because her job is different from my job. Neither is it fair to assume that someone without children is lazy and selfish just because they don’t have kids to care for.
Talking to my friend reminded me to be sensitive to the different roads we are each on. It reminded me to be thankful for the help I have in my marriage and to be considerate of the time and needs of people who don’t share life with a partner. It reminded me too that even though people say stupid stuff to me sometimes, I’m sure I’ve said stupid stuff to other people too—stuff I didn’t even think about because my life is so different from theirs and I didn’t realize what responsibilities were weighing on them. It reminded me to be less sensitive and more gracious when careless words are said but also to be even more careful about my own words and the things I assume.
I hope we can all learn to be more considerate and respectful of each other and stop trying to prove that we are better or doing more just because we are doing something differently.
8 thoughts on “Understanding and Respecting Our Differences”
Know where you’re coming from Kari Ann… These types of comments once irritated me incredibly but then, when I was feeling overworked, tired etc, just saying to another how very demanding it must be to ……………. (fill in the blanks) they would most often agree but then bounce back that sense of understanding and empathy. Warm, caring feelings all round. Worked for me.
In India, it is always one woman show at home. Never it is shared by male. If it is so, it is very very handful of men. I feel happy at your place men and women are equally considering each other and helping. I wonder, people getting settled at US and UK are started helping their women at home like you people do, but they just turn around, when they are in India, hometown.
I love your postings. Padma.
A woman friend of mine always says, if you’re looking for someone to do something for you, find someone busy. They can always handle a little more.
My feelings exactly! I never like it when someone claims I can’t be as tired as they are or know what it’s like to live as they do. Of course, I don’t know what their life is like, but I have sympathy. Yet, they also don’t understand what my hectic grad school life is like either and don’t expect them to. I’d rather the two of us hug and comfort each other as we can knowing each is fighting a hard fight in different ways.
Exactly. I remember thinking in college that I could never possibly be busier or more exhausted but here I am…still busy, still tired :] We just need to help and encourage instead of putting down like you said.
Very well said! My life was busy when I was a young married mom of six youngsters busy when they grew into teens, busy as they each left home and STILL busy now that its just me and my hubby running our own business.
Mom, I could never assume a stay-at-home mom is lazy or has it easy after watching you stay home and raise six kids. I think you were pretty busy :] But I never heard you belittle a mom with fewer children either. We each have our own path to walk and I just wish we could encourage each other more in that.
Agreed, that is after all what a large part of our Christian walk is about, encouraging each other not envy, jealousy, strife and whining.