Repeat after me:
My basic needs are met. I live in a relatively safe and healthy country. Life is a gift. Everything else is a bonus.
Now please, for the love of all that is good in this world, stop acting like you are entitled. You are not.
No one owes you anything. Everyone has their own hardships to bear, and while some are more trying than others, we are all in this together.
And yes, I know where I am coming from. My life is neither easy, nor perfect, but I’m still pretty damn satisfied. I have two major “inconveniences” in my family life: I have twin daughters, and they both have celiac disease. I say “inconvenience” because, in both situations, I see people who seem quite content to use their own issues to entitle themselves to the pity/charity/exceptions of the world around them. They whine and lay blame, complaining that this isn’t fair, that they shouldn’t have to deal with such injustice and discrimination.
Like a child who thinks that they deserve more presents, or more candy, or more toys, there are adults who think they deserve special treatment because they (or their kids) are different.
Let me paint you my picture:
I have nearly-five-year old twin daughters. One was planned, and the other was a shocking surprise. We didn’t have the money for two babies, I didn’t have maternity benefits, and my body was not adept at carrying two infants. And yet never, not once, did I complain about the hand I was dealt. Sure, I complained about pregnancy in general. It was 34 weeks of hell!! But I did not complain about the babies that I chose to conceive.
As I immersed myself in the twin community, I was shocked at the number of families that thought that being parents of multiples entitled them to special treatment. I actually heard parents asking why their toddlers BOTH had to pay for swimming lessons (when each child required an adult). I have heard twin parents complain about everything. I know parents who think childcare ought to be two-for-one for their twins, even though singleton siblings pay full price and twins do require a little more work. I’ve heard the same said for diapers, formula, car seats…you name it.
I made up my mind before my babies were born that I would never, ever be an entitled twin parent. I would not be an entitled parent, period. I hate to break it to you, but two babies are two babies. They are not one. They cost as much as two unrelated babies (in most cases; they do get away with sharing some things!). It’s just a fact of having multiples!
To this day, I have never used my kids as an excuse for my shortcomings. Have I used them as an excuse to bail on things? Absolutely. Who hasn’t? My kids are the perfect get-out-of-dinner-free card. But I don’t use the twin card. I don’t want special treatment for me, or for them. The only time I craved that was when I tried to get my annoyingly limousine-length twin stroller through non-automatic doors.
Fast-forward to March 2012. Having survived twinfancy to some degree, both my daughters were diagnosed with celiac disease. This is a very serious, extremely under-acknowledged autoimmune disorder. People don’t give it credit because, unlike an anaphylactic allergy, there isn’t always a visible, physical reaction. But as a parent, I have to be incredibly careful about what my kids eat, down to the crumb. I have to be diligent, reading every label of every food that goes in their mouth, and be hyper-aware of where everything is prepared. I cannot risk cross-contamination with gluten foods. It’s not an allergy; it’s an autoimmune response that destroys their small intestines and causes malnutrition and death. This is not just an upset tummy. It’s a medical condition that comes with a signed, stamped doctor’s letter stating that this is necessary for their survival.
Has it been inconvenient? Hell, yes. I have to plan every outing, even just to family member’s homes. I pack our own food and snacks, or we simply do not eat. When we are out, there are only a scarce handful of “safe” places for us to eat. Do I pitch a fit when restaurants can’t guarantee their food safety for my girls? No. Do I freak out when the pizza restaurant we frequent tells us after 8 months that the chicken we get actually isn’t gluten-free? No. I thank them for telling me now though. When a playground we like doesn’t have gluten-free options, and doesn’t allow outside food, do I lose my ever loving mind at the injustice of it?
And I am so bloody sick and tired of parents (and other adults in general) acting like this is their world, and theirs alone. Acting as though it is their right to demand perfection from others while they froth at the mouth, screaming literally or figuratively that LIFE ISN’T FAIR!!!!
I am so sick of it. And sadly, I find that it’s people with very little to actually fuss about that make the biggest fusses. The people I know who have very high needs children, or who are in high need of assistance themselves are the least likely to freak out over minor inconveniences. They’re the ones who have accepted that this is life and it isn’t going to change.
It’s not anyone’s job to make your life more comfortable. It is, however, up to you to fill your own life with things that make you comfortable. If a business, space, service, or person doesn’t serve your needs, you need to move on. Speak privately, if you need reasonable accommodations made. Don’t shout and scream that life isn’t fair.
Life isn’t fair for anyone. But some of us have learned to live with it, and be quite happy with the differences and challenges presented. At the end of the day, it’s much more liberating and enjoyable to be in control of yourself than to expect others to control the world to your liking.
When I’m cold, I put on a sweater. I don’t curse the Alberta snow and the shorter days. If I’m still cold, I turn up the thermostat. If that fails and my needs still aren’t met, I move somewhere warm and sunny. I make the change that I need to see in my world.
Give it a try. Free yourself from the chains of entitlement. You deserve it.