Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gratitude

Well, I've done it.  I've accomplished the goal of blogging every day for a month and can officially call myself a NaBloPoMo member!  (are there members?)  And you know what?  I really enjoyed it!  It MADE me sit down and write about some things that I have been putting off for a very long time.  It made me think through some topics I thought I wasn't ready to write about- but when I started writing I found out that either I was ready, or that I would never be ready and so I may as well put it out there as-is.

The last thing I want to write about this month is Gratitude.  I want to live a life that is full of thanksgiving.  Mind you- absolutely nothing in my life is exactly the way I want it to be.  Nothing. My dream life is 100% full of meaningful conversations with my spouse and tidbits of wisdom passed on to my eager children who eat delicious meals made by me with all organic ingredients before we make time to read the Bible and a deep, meaningful chapter book before bed.  My REAL life is 100% full of days when my husband and I hardly have time to speak to each other and my children ignore every single word that comes out of my mouth and we have cereal for dinner and I tell them I'm too tired to read to them before bed.  But STILL... I have SO MUCH to be thankful for.  And I truly want my children to appreciate all that they have too.

In the adoption world there are always people talking about how we can't expect adopted kids to feel grateful for their adoption.  And they are RIGHT.  I mean, that's a bit like saying that kids whose parents have gone through a painful divorce should be thankful for it because each parent has remarried.  Maybe they can really, really love their new step-parents, but that doesn't mean that they have to be grateful for the divorce that brought them all together.  So I'm not writing this to say that Avé has to be grateful that she has us for a family.  But I AM saying that I want my children- ALL of them- bio or adopted- to be grateful for their lives.

We have so much given to us in this country.  So much that we don't even NEED but think that we do.  And somehow I have a sneaking suspicion that on the day we stand before God He is going to ask us about our gluttonous lives and why we continued to live in such a selfish manner when we knew that others' suffering could be eased if we would would give more away instead of accumulating more "things" for ourselves.

Nothing makes me crazier as a mom than ungratefulness in my children.  I mean- if you really wanna see me just go bananas, come over some day when my kids have been able to stay late after school to play soccer, had a friend over for a play date, then went someplace fun for dinner... and THEN complained b/c they didn't get to go out for dessert afterward!  I seriously go berzerk.  One day we were leaving Sonic's "happy hour" with slushies in their little hands when we happened to drive past a Braum's and one of my kids said in a really sad and pathetic voice, "We haven't been to Braum's in like, forever."  My other kids chimed in, equally sad and pathetic.  I whipped the car into a parking lot, demanded their slushies and tossed them into the nearest trash can.  I mean, AAAAAUUUUUUUGH!!!!  Can you say SPOILED????  That just infuriates me!!!

And then comes the part that I always regret later- the lecture.  I JUST CAN'T STOP MYSELF!!!  Really!!!  I just start going off and off and off and off and even though there is a part of my brain that says, "Simmer down, G!  They tuned out like, 5 minutes ago!" I just can't stop until I have said all I have to say!  And by the end I'm usually crying.  It goes something like this:

""We haven't been to Braums...???  WE HAVEN'T BEEN TO BRAUMS???"  What, exactly, is that in your hands???  And yet you are complaining because WE HAVEN'T BEEN TO BRAUMS????  Oh, no.  Oh, no, my friends.  (dramatic pull over into nearest parking lot)  Give me those drinks.  (dramatic toss into the trash can) If you can't be grateful for what you have, then you don't deserve what you have!!!!  Do you think every child in the world gets to swing by Sonic after school?  Don't you realize that there are kids in this world who not only don't get to drink Blue Coconut Slushies, but they have to hike for 1/2 a day to get water to drink?  And then when they get it, that water is dirty and filled with things that will make them sick???  There are kids who can't even have the PRIVILEGE of going to school because they have to hike back and forth every day to get their family DIRTY WATER to drink and bathe in and cook with... and yet MY CHILDREN, who are holding slushies in their hands are sad because they haven't gotten ice cream???  Oh, that is just ridiculous.  Don't you remember when we saw that village in Africa on TV where the only toy in the whole village was a long sleeved shirt rolled up to use as a soccer ball???  And don't you remember the children begging on the streets and living in the dump in Ethiopia???  And yet you feel sorry for yourselves because you got slushies instead of ice cream..."

To be fair, I *ALWAYS* apologize to my kids later for acting so nutso.  But I also make it very clear that that a crazy, raving fit is very likely to happen every time they act so ungrateful for all they have.  That is just who I am and they need to realize that if they want to see their mother go berzerk-o, acting ungrateful is the best way to do it.  One morning I threw a pair of socks at Jack's head when he told me that the reason we were ready to leave and he didn't have his shoes and socks on is because he "didn't like any of his socks."  AAAAUGH!!!  Berzerk-o time!!!!  (again... I apologized later and told him he had full permission to mock me for the day I threw socks at his head.  ;)

But the really pathetic thing?

I do the same thing.

All.
The.
Time.

And maybe that's why I react so strongly when my kids do it.  I hate it in myself.  I hate going to the mall because it makes me feel like all my clothes are stupid.  I hate watching TV because it makes me feel like I need more money to spend on my hair and my shoes and my make-up.  I hate reading fashion magazines because the ads all make me feel fat.  I hate it when I do get something new and somewhere in my heart it makes me feel just a little bit superior.  I HATE that.  I hate that I fall prey to all those marketing tricks that tell me that if I just had this product it would change my whole life.  I love my country, but I hate those things about our materialistic culture.

Because being unsatisfied means being ungrateful.

My life is far from perfect.  But I want to be grateful for every broken, messed up, heart-breaking, imperfect piece of it.  And if I want grateful children, well, they are only going to learn that one way: by example.  My lectures and dramatics may make an impact for a short period of time, but really I think they will only teach my kids not to be ungrateful OUT LOUD.  On the inside they will feel the same way.  Unless I can show them another way to live.

God, help me.  Because really- I have every single thing I need.

And then some.

And I wanna be grateful.

7 comments:

Sohailah said...

So I will have to APOLOGIZE when I give that very same lecture to my children? Because I could have written that. It sounds very similar to what I say to students on my tours, or said MANY times to students in my classroom at whichever school I happened to be teaching at. And... I never apologized. I just told them that if they didn't like it, they should remember Hebrews 13:17, and then they wouldn't subject themselves to it...

I am SO not ready to be a parent...

p.s. I think adopted children do understand the concept of gratefulness for being adopted. Probably not at three. More like 23...

Deena / TEAM MARQUIS said...

LOVE IT!!!! I just posted about my similar feelings!!!! I LOVE the story about Sonic, because I would have done the EXACT same thing! In fact, I went to Sonic last week with Grace and when she complained that she did not have a big enough sandwich, I PULLED OVER THE CAR AND TOOK IT FROM HER! Seriously!!!! Love ya girl! Great minds think alike? Or nutso minds...
Thanks for the reminder that not all moms are perfect and other people's lives are not 100% great. My goal this holiday season is to remember the real reason we are celebrating and give THANKS for the blessings we have...and NOT to FORGET those who are suffering,and not celebrating like (spoiled) we are.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree!! This year Christmas shopping, I had a TOTALLY different attitude! I will NEVER forget those kids that will never see U.S.A. Totally heart breaking!! Ethiopia changed me FOREVER!!!!!! I want my kids to appreciate all they have!!

Love,
Kiki xox

Justine said...

My goal is to do the "throw out the Sonic slushes" but skip the wordy lecture. I don't actually go berserk (ummm...maybe my personality is a little more low key than yours LOL) but otherwise this sounds so familiar. (Except sometimes I just lecture and lecture and lecture and say I "should" throw out the slushes without following through.) And the EXAMPLE thing...OUCH!

And great job on NaBloPoMo! I could never do it...in fact I haven't even done a good job keeping up reading. :)

Heidi said...

Love this post! And your last one about Ave's lifebook. I need to get on that for the boys. Also I am so impressed that you did NaBloPoMo. I entertained the idea at the beginning of the month and then got too busy to even keep up with other people's posts!

marciisaacs said...

I'm psyched about following your adoption blog! Met you today at training! :)

Kate said...

great post gayla!!

Selam! G'day! Hello!