There’s something spreading rapidly through the local playground, school pick up line, even Starbucks isn’t immune. And no it’s not hand/foot/mouth.
This contagious condition is carried by most of us moms. We’re infecting ourselves and even more alarmingly, our kids. I will be the first to say that a good ole complain fest with your girlfriends is not only cathartic but a vital part of survival in motherhood. However, the danger lies when it becomes the only way we communicate. It’s a joy-stealer. It makes us forget all that we should be grateful for. It seeps into our minds until we are being just as negative as those around us. Recognition is key. Here are a few of the most common types of Negative Nancies who wreak havoc on our happiness and some ways to handle them.
1. The Catastrophic Complainer
Everything is always the WORST. We dread asking her how she’s doing, because we know she’ll launch into a martyrdom monologue about how every day is just the awful. Her kids are terrible, her husband is a slob, her house is a warzone…on and on it goes.
Leaves you feeling: Drained after a conversation and start to wonder about your own shortcomings.
Joy solution: Kill her with kindness. Compliments go a long way to Debbie Downers even if you don’t see the evidence right away.
2. The Doomsday Prepper aka “You Just Wait”
Oh you think being pregnant is hard, just wait until you have a newborn and you’ll never EVER sleep again. Oh you think a newborn is hard, wait until you’re potty training and your entire house is a giant urinal. You think dealing with grade school bullies is hard, just wait ‘til you have a teenager screaming that they hate you. These moms seem completely incapable of remembering that fortunately most cards in life are dealt one at a time. And yes, every phase has it good and bad parts but they are all temporary.
Leaves you feeling: Like your #strugglesARENTreal.
Joy solution: Remind yourself what you love about the phase you’re in. Newborns (toddlers cough cough) don’t sleep, but nothing beats pudgy dimples in place of knuckles. Awwww.
3. The Straight-Up Mean Girl
This mom steps up on to her high horse on the backs of others. Regina George has nothing on this diva. Queen of the backhanded compliment, “I wish I were comfortable enough to do school drop off without make-up, especially with your skin.”
Leaves you feeling: Enraged and wanting to spread all that bad juju to others.
Joy solution: These Negative Nancies are the easiest to fight because you can recognize the impact right away. Usually kill them with kindness works well here too, but sometimes these biters need to be bitten back. “I am so happy you make time for yourself to get ready in the morning.” Optional added zing, “I prefer to spend quality time with my family.”
4. The Mother of All Martyrs
These ones are tricky because you don’t even realize you’ve been infected. They are always stressed to the max on every committee, organize every school dance/field trip, and are the first to volunteer. You walk away feeling bad for them until you realize sometimes days later that when they spoke about staying awake all night baking organic, gluten-free, nut-free, flour-free, sugar-free, taste-free treats for the class because no one else was up to the task that they’re just the stealthiest negative Nancy of them all.
Leaves you feeling: Inadequate and Guilty
Joy Solution: Offer to help, but don’t be offended when they don’t take you up on it. Pat yourself on the back for being a Good Samaritan and move on to more worthwhile things. Like Pinteresting crafts you’ll never make.
We are coming upon a season of the year that is especially vulnerable to negativity. The stress of the holidays can make us all feel a little more joyless rather than joyful. If you can recognize yourself starting to make a hard right down Negative Nancy Lane, then you might just save yourself some doom and gloom while brightening another’s spirits in the process. We all need to vent because this motherhood thing is the hardest ever, but isn’t it also super great? Let’s challenge ourselves to recognize our frustrations and take care of ourselves while also being a part of the joy solution.
What is the hardest thing in your motherhood phase to be positive about?
How do you handle negativity in yourself and others?