The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Complaint Free?

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain.
-- Maya Angelou

I began reading the book “A Complaint Free World.” The idea is to go twenty-one days straight without complaining. You wear a bracelet to remind yourself, and move it over to the other wrist when you make a verbal complaint.

Before starting this practice, I considered myself to be fairly positive, at least in my spoken words. Though I’m still working on my never-ending negative thoughts floating around in my head. The book likens it to a Tasmanian devil, wreaking havoc in your mind. I know mine sometimes says, “You really suck as a mom” or “Everyone else’s kids are in extra-curricular activities, why aren’t yours?”

I have a nice voice, too, and she reminds me I’m doing beautifully, we are all human and my kids are doing fine without being in tons of activities. But I’m trying to get rid of the Tasmanian devil. His time has come.

The book says the average time it takes people to complete twenty-one straight days of non-complaining is four to six months! Being a bit of an over-achiever, I thought I could at least make it through one day.

I lost count around eight times having changed the bracelet back and forth. My first complaint was about politics (why you have to be registered in a certain party to take part in their primaries). Later in the day, I took my boys for a walk around the block. Up the hill, my two-year-old, Henrik, decided he wanted out of the stroller, and to be carried by Mommy. Soon, I could not hold him any longer while pushing the stroller and pulling his brother on his bike by a rope. I started to complain to him about how he wasn’t walking.

Suddenly, a random woman I’d never seen before yelled jokingly from across the street, “Hey Mom, aren’t you gonna run?” I think the universe planted her there as a practical joke. Sorry, not in the mood today.

I could have just waved and smiled to this woman, but I instead I complained to her about everything. (For now I’m letting my writing off the hook. The program is about spoken complaints.) I take a break from my mommy Olympics to switch the bracelet over two times.

As I arrived home from the walk, with Henrik screaming bloody murder due to the fact that I had forced him back into the stroller in order to get home, all I wanted to do was whine to my husband about how horrible it had been. But I was trying not to complain. When he took the kids to give them a bath, I sat in the kitchen and just cried to release all the negativity I was feeling. I felt much better afterwards -- and I hadn’t complained.

With a few hours between me and the walk, I remembered how wonderfully my four-year-old son, Lucas, had done on the walk by helping me out, listening to what I asked, and riding his bike by himself up most of the hills he normally needs me to help him with. After we were home, Lucas came over and said, “It was nice to have some time with you, me and little crying Henrik.” Clearly, some good had happened as well.

Later in the evening, my husband and I had decided yet again that we would love to take a family trip, but don’t have the energy to travel with the kids right now. I looked at my husband and said, “I just wish you and I could get away for a weekend. Should it be so hard?” clearly in a “poor me” voice.

A few minutes later I was talking to my husband about the complaint-free program and he caught me -- “Hey, didn’t you just complain?” Ugh, he was right. Damn bracelet -- move it over to the other wrist again. My husband gave me permission to quit the program. I think he wonders why I bother myself with these sorts of things. I wonder too sometimes.

But now I’m curious. How much do I really complain? I get to find out again tomorrow, the twenty-one days start over.

Wish me luck!

(Follow-up: it’s been ten days since I began. I’ve made it one day without complaining, and that was three days ago. This is harder than I thought!)

By Kristy Lund


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Good for you!! I doubt I could go an entire day without complaining! But I now carry a notebook and it helps to vent there. I can write "I hate you" over and over while my husband looks for a parking spot. By the time we are parked and he comments on what a good sport I was, I just smile. I then get to rip up the ranting pages and that feels better than whining ever did.
I think this is a great idea. A bit of a self check.
If I actually make it thru a couple of weeks and my
husband noticed. It would prove there was room for improvement. ruth scott
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