The phase brings images of memes and jokes such as "The one day I try to sleep in, my maid wakes me up." The jokes are sometimes funny, sometimes insulting. The fact of the matter is that stress is stress, no matter where it comes from.
That phrase serves to remind us that in the midst of complaining about getting cut off on the way to work, getting the wrong coffee after standing in line, finding yet another bill in the mailbox, or struggling to get homework done with the kids while trying to make dinner, as much as these feel frustrating in the moment are ultimately problems experienced only by people who are inherently blessed in other ways.
The fact of the matter is, if we have access to income, healthy children, a roof over our family's head, access to good medical care, quality education, and clean drinking water, we are fundamentally more well-off than half of the world.
This week is one of those weeks that I really needed to remind myself of that. I spent this week working around the house and the yard because I knew this weekend would be full of friends and family. The Husband and Raindrop actually share a birthday, which is always fun, but lots of work. Monday night, knowing we would probably be sitting out back, I hauled out the brand new patio umbrella my parents gave me last summer. I thought I had hooked it in tightly enough, and put it down far enough, but while watching TV later that night the wind really started to blow and I heard a giant crash outside. I went outside to see the umbrella had lifted up and blown into the house. I was so bummed out looking at its broken pieces laying on the patio.
On Wednesday I had a friend over for a visit when I realized the kitchen chair I was sitting in had cracked and broken. When I looked at it, I wasn't confident I could fix it. Totally bummed, I dragged it out to the garage and put it next to the remnants of the umbrella. Later when I tried to fix it, I realized I had misplaced the charger to the electric drill, so I had to leave it until next week.
Later that afternoon my cat, who had gotten out earlier that day, came back home. Late that night, I noticed he was still sleeping, which was unusual. I tried to pick him up and he meowed out in pain. That was when I noticed his breathing was more rapid, he was shaking and in obvious distress. Needless to say, I immediately called our vet and he recommended we take our kitty to the animal ER straight away. He turned out to be fine, but he had gotten injured somehow when he got out and $400 later, the vet had him all fixed up with a prescription for pain meds and rest.
On Friday I had to take the car in to the mechanic because the check engine light was on, the car needed emissions testing and we are already in our grace period for tags. Needless to say, after spending hundreds of dollars at the vet, I was a little stressed out about the verdict from the mechanic. Miraculously, it turned out to be a simple issue that cost less than $100 to fix. Hallelujah!
It is so frustrating when it seems like everything seems to be breaking at once and bills keep piling up, but ultimately, even if we get snowed under for a while, I know we will be ok. These are first world problems.
So, The Husband and Raindrop's birthday party isn't super perfect. So what!? So what if we have to tighten our purse strings a little bit? It is all about perspective, and ultimately these are all first world problems. I have food in my fridge. I have a roof over my head. I have access to and can (usually) afford quality medical care. My kids have access to quality education. We have two cars, no car payments and we almost always have money to put gas in them. Most of all we have the freedom to tighten our purse strings to the point where I can stay at home with the kids, and if we get too underwater, I have family members who are capable and willing to help us out.
How lucky are we!?
This week still brought stress and worry, that doesn't change. But,when I stop and realize what others are facing, it makes me realize that these things are unimportant in the long run and reminding myself to be grateful for what we have helps me feel so much less stressed.
So, next time you find yourself freaking out about things going wrong, take a moment and remind yourself that the stresses in your life might just be first world problems. The memes and jokes may not feel funny when you are legitimately struggling with stress and strife, and telling yourself they are first world problems is not going to make things less frustrating or stressful or easier. But sometimes just the reminder, the moment you stop and take a deep breath and acknowledge there is a lot to be grateful for, that is the moment that things can feel less bleak.