“I am just over it!” I complained to Mama one day.
What the ‘it’ in question was has now been long forgotten but whatever it was at the time, I was done.
Mama listened as she always does, letting me vent, knowing I usually just need to blow off some steam about whatever is bothering me.
“I just really can’t put up with this anymore,” I said, completing my tirade.
Mama took a deep breath.
“I’m so sorry,” she began. “But, as bad as it is, can you be thankful?”
“I am thankful,” I said, punching the second word for emphasis.
“Are you sure?”
I hate it when Mama does this.
How dare she call me out in the middle of my hissie.
“Mama,” I began but stopped.
It was no use trying to explain, at least not to her in that moment, but it makes sense to me.
“It makes you sound like you are ungrateful for what you have. How can you expect to get something else or better your current situation as long as you are ungrateful for what you’ve already been given?”
My response was silence.
“You know who you sound like, don’t you?” she asked.
I knew without her telling me. I sounded just like Granny.
Mama’s not wrong.
Granny could fuss about everything.
You could give Granny a million dollars and she would have told you she needed a million and one.
She would have been thankful for the million, but she would have let it be known, it was not all of what she needed.
It’s not a matter of being ungrateful. Really, it’s not.
But it’s a duality of sorts, this being able to see the clouds as well as the rainbow, that has haunted me most of my life, and Granny’s as well.
Granny would fuss about the rain even if we were in a drought and she needed it for her garden.
“Didn’t you just say the other day we needed a good rain?” Mama would ask.
“Yes, I did,” Granny said. “But I didn’t mean for it to all come at once. A nice steady rain woulda been nice; not a dadblamed flood.”
I am more than grateful for my home, but wish it were bigger. Mama sees this as complaining when I should be happy to have a roof over my head.
I am thankful I have a job — Mama didn’t have to go and point out how many people were out of work due to Covid — but can still get frustrated with a lot of the things and fuss about it.
I can complain that my Mama drives me crazy at times, but that doesn’t mean I am not thankful she’s still here and alive to get on my nerves.
It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate each and every one of those things.
It’s just a matter of seeing things that just aren’t where we want them to be, even when they are good, and wanting to somehow make them better.
“You should still focus on being grateful,” Mama will remind me.
And I get it. I do.
But I also am scared that we can somehow create this false narrative that things are always great and not accept those moments when things aren’t so rosy.
Toxic positivity can be a real thing, and it can be worse than actually complaining about the things that irritate us.
“I ain’t saying things is all great if they ain’t,” Granny would declare.
“I’m not saying you should say things are great when they aren’t, Mama. I am merely saying maybe if you focus on what’s positive, you will have more of the positive to look at,” my own mother suggested to hers one day.
“You know what that’s called?” Granny asked. “Lying.”
We can dangerously get to that point we pretend everything is perfect out of fear of voicing our real thoughts and feelings about something, especially where our narrative has been guided by someone else — whether it’s a boss, spouse, etc. — to only see the positive in a situation.
When we do that, we stop being honest about other things. Real things, big things.
If I am fussing about those things that I see as annoyances or even just the tiniest bit unfair, you better believe I am going to raise a fuss about the big things.
But a lot of times, when we do voice the tiniest of grievances, we may be quieted and told that there are situations that are a lot worse than what we are experiencing — so we should just be quiet.
That never set well with Granny, and it sure doesn’t set well with me.
Mama mistakes my hissie fit with meaning that I am not grateful and that couldn’t be further from the truth. The complaining can’t and never will negate the good stuff.
Maybe the fussing and dissatisfaction stem from some fear that if we ever get comfortable, we will grow complacent and not stand up for those things that really matter.
Or maybe it is just that I am also able to accept what is — both the good and the bad — at the same time.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.