Last Tuesday our city of Christchurch was struck by a 6.3 magnitude aftershock. The aftershock caused much more devastation than the original 7.1 magnitude earthquake last September.

We are fine. My husband was in the town hall at the time of the earthquake, and I was at home with both our babies asleep in their cots. Though a scary few hours passed with big aftershocks and wondering when and how Joseph would get home we have our home with no or very little damage and are all together and all of us well. Many haven’t been as lucky. We are staying at Joseph’s families until things become more “normal” (whatever that is now?!) and the water is safer for our babies and the aftershocks become less.

The earthquakes over the past 6 months have really put things in perspective. Living in a state of emergency, seeing places you pass every day in ruins, seeing injuries and families of those who have died (some you may know), abandoned cars and empty houses, seeing the queues of desperate people for food, petrol and seeing the empty shelves have become almost regular.

Mia Freedman, former editor of Cosmo and writer of a blog called “Mamamia” often talks about a concept called “First World Problems”. First world problems are:

A way to take a light-hearted, ironic look at the ridiculous things we’re lucky enough to call problems right now. We share them not to diminish the REAL problems of those who are suffering and who are in our thoughts and hearts. But to acknowledge that life does indeed go on and perhaps sharing our silly little gripes will help alleviate the guilt we have for even complaining about them.

So a first world problem could be a misplaced phone charger. A dropped icecream. A forgotton block of chocolate. A dirty car.

Before the first earthquake we wouldn’t think twice over complaining about small things. We would take for granted so many things. And then the earthquake happened and we were all well shaken (both physically and mentally) and for a while were so thankful for our lives and everything in them. First world problems became so small compared to the big shake and the moment that could have taken away everything.

But it didn’t take long for aftershocks to become normal and regular life to return and for us to have first world problems again.

We had nearly forgotton about earthquakes, there had been a while since a decent aftershock. Then February 22 at 12.50pm, after getting home from taking my babies for a walk and visit and just putting them down to bed. I was just sitting down to have a few moments to myself (which I had been complaining about only the day before after not getting much time to sit down and have some time to myself or check my facebook or whatever) when the big one hit.

And now so many lives have changed. People nearby have died and been injured, they’ve lost everything they own or don’t have an inhabitable home. And we are once again thankful for all we have, and trying to not complain about the small things.

I hope that when all has returned to “normal” that we can remember to be thankful for the big things. To remember to love our families every moment, and kiss our babies, and to not stress about the small stuff.

Because it can all change in a moment.

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