Almost three years old and – lack of Olympics notwithstanding – it still holds true.
With the Olympics imminent, it’s already been established that we are apparently world class at whinging. Leaving aside the mind-boggling questions about the methodology behind that piece of research (“How often do you whinge, sir?” “Do you whinge in earnest, madam, or are your acerbic observations material for the Radio 4 sitcom you’re writing in your head?”), it has made me think about how and when it’s acceptable to display a less-than-stiff upper lip to those close to us.
Take parenting (I would like to offer a less predictable example, but parenting has severely limited my imagination.) I was chided by a friend recently for intimating that life with our youngest isn’t plain sailing. He is a much-wanted, much-loved little boy, but one who makes his presence very much felt and is, for now at least, dominating his older siblings lives in many ways.
Perhaps I wouldn’t, but I see no disloyalty or ingratitude in admitting to myself and others the fact that the family life I always hoped for can sometimes be a bit bumpy. I’d go further, and say that I don’t think it’s healthy to expect mothers (and fathers, too) to pretend that the blessing of children precludes finding certain aspects of raising them to be hard. The pressure not to moan or display ingratitude doesn’t make people count their blessings, it turns them in on themselves, hating themselves for how they’re feeling.
In just the same way, someone who gets their perfect job and then finds themselves out of their depth or unhappy, should be allowed to say so; while someone doing up a dream house will feel no less cold pending the installation of central heating for the beauty of their surroundings.
The fulfilment of even the most cherished dream can chafe, and we do each other no favours by demanding another’s happy ever after. True friends are those who admire the beauty of your new shoes – but offer a plaster for the inevitable blisters as you wear them in.