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This is your source for NPR author interviews, recent broadcasts from the Traverse City National Writers Series, and IPR's radio series Michigan Writers on the Air. You can also find NPR authors & interviews here.

Essay: Harder for Me

My daughter and I were at the kitchen table, discussing her eighth grade homework.

“It’s a stupid assignment,” Sara declared. “I’ll never pass this class.”


I listen to her complaints which had been piling up all evening. None of her friends had called and she had a ripening blemish on her chin.

“I need a beverage,” Sara said and flung open the refrigerator. “Who drank all the pop?”

“Life is hard,” I said.

“Harder for me,” she said and then we both laughed—because right now it was true and of course not true at all, not even close.

That was many years ago and these days, Sara is married and working and keeping pop in her own refrigerator. But we still share our lives and sometimes the complaints pile up. Her boss is unreasonable, her husband is messy, she has a cold.

“Harder for you,” I say on cue. Or she says it to me when it’s my turn.

And for some reason it helps—not just the humor but the chance, for the briefest of moments, to be the Queen of Distress, to be heard and acknowledged. Somehow, saying it’s harder makes it easier.