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First world problems

Here's the Thing

Posted: April 22, 2012 - 7:00am

Here's some free therapy from a complete stooge (me). Take heed, as my life consists of usually being a hot mess. Somehow there's balance in my life, which includes constant maintenance so I can grow into being a better version of myself and often times makes me feel like a walking self-help book. Lately, what's worked to keep me focused on the important things in life is getting rid of all my first world problems. It's helped me a lot lately and has made a "world" of difference. (Also, I am equally appalled by that last joke.)

First world problems, in case you haven't heard, is a silly phrase that describes a situation that really isn't as dire as we think it is. UrbanDictionary.com defines it as: problems from living in a wealthy, industrialized nation that third worlders would probably roll their eyes at. While we stress out about what color to paint our second living room, there is a 10-person family that shares a one room hut in Guatemala. It's not meant to necessarily make you feel guilty, it just helps to put things into perspective.

For example, my friend Jeanette was complaining to her husband about her Keurig adding more water than she'd like for her otherwise perfect cup of glorious coffee, to which her husband replied, "First world problems." Get it? It's hilarious when used correctly.

Be careful though, you don't want to accidentally be a jerk about it. Like if a relative announces to the family they have cancer ... that would not be good timing or proper usage of the phrase, "First world problems," unless you want to get barred from every family event. Forever.

My husband on the other hand, is no help for my cause as he's into manscaping his facial hair and currently sporting an impressive handlebar mustache. All I see when he walks in the door is Mr. Mustache. It's not terribly unattractive, yet after a few days I find it's still a little astounding. I told a guy friend about it and with triumph he threw his hands in the air and exclaimed, "Good for him! Way to keep the confidence!" I didn't join in the merriment, but I guess some part of me understands. Meanwhile, I should be thankful he has a steady job, stays on the healthy side, and loves his kids, so in the big picture, Mr. Mustache is a first world problem.

Magazines, books, and tv shows often target raising babies and children. A lot of them bring up trifling issues. As a mom, I'm like, ugh. Too much pressure sometimes. My theory is: just be wise and have fun. Sometimes parents get competitive and try to throw "first world problems" into the mix, like where their kid goes to school, which can be an important decision. On the flip side I've known plenty of kids that went to high-ranking, high-priced, highly religious schools and are complete buffoons as adults. That's fine, but that's an example of why I think it's smart and safe to take the competition (sometimes coined as "mom"-petition), and throw it out the window.

It's freedom realizing whatever you decide to bake for the bake sale isn't going to ultimately ruin your child's life. Maybe they're not in soccer like the mini-Beckham neighbor kid, it doesn't mean your child isn't an athlete. Maybe your little musician with all that band practice might channel that talent into a type of "success" that would even make the soccer moms jealous. Perhaps the working mother can't always make the recitals, but the child's grandparents are present, cheering them on. There's just no point in sizing up other parents or kids. It's not really fair. It's summed up as a scientific observation. If you don't know everything, how can you act like it?

I'm not saying ignore gut instinct, if you feel like someone is a real creeper, report that fool and get the situation handled. I'm talking about menial, housewife things. You know. First world problems.

Instead of throwing them at other parents, why not help each other? Babysit for the fabulous, single mom. Praise fathers for helping, even if their Jello doesn't set on time for the potluck and makes you look like an imbecile. Don't get mad at your toddler for having the wiggles, sign them up for dance.

Here's the thing: The grass is greener where you water it. Be mindful of what deserves your energy and attention, and what sucks it dry. In a silly way, it's been my own personal spring cleaning. Realizing it's all in God's hands, but also discerning my perspective (to avoid making a mountain out of a molehill) are two things worthy of  aspiration.

Kasi McClure enjoys being a wife and mother of two in Kenai. She can be reached at columnkasi@gmail.com.

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