If gratitude is an art form, I am a complete novice. I was thinking this over today as I sat down on the couch for a few minutes of quiet once the little one was down for his nap. We’ve had a cold (and now croup, in H’s case) around here for a few days, and while I’m not dealing with anything even remotely awful in the grand scheme, I’ve caught myself grumbling a little bit in my own head. Being sick means staying home. Missing out. Not passing around germs. The third part I’m great with–the first and second parts, not as much.
Today was the first meeting of the semester for our mom’s group at church, and I’ve really been looking forward to the weekly opportunity to see some of the loveliest moms in my life. Enter croup, and instead of dropping H off to play with his friends and joining a room full of beautiful women for a few hours of mom time, we’re at home on the couch this morning, handing off germ-free (I promise!) brownies to a gracious friend who picked them up for me on her way to church. I was bummed. Really bummed. Especially because this morning was my chance to send off a friend who is moving in a mere two days, and I missed the boat. I know I’ll likely see her when she visits sometime, but today, my head and heart were more full of complaints than gratitude as I stacked up all of the things I was “missing” to stay at home and be mom to a sick little kiddo.
Do you know what I would have given three years ago to be confined to home on a snowy day with my little one?
This was before we had Little Man, before I was ever even pregnant, when I could only dream about the BEST possible scenario in my mind. At home. Nowhere I had to be. A mom. All the time in the day just to look after my sweet boy. It’s true. That’s all I ever wanted. And when I’m really honest with myself, it’s still almost all I ever really want. If you’ve been with me long enough, you know that I adore being H’s mom. So why is it that I let myself get to this grumbly place in a matter of days just because I couldn’t keep my plans?
I can say this. Entertaining a toddler who is not feeling well, has less energy, whines through much of the day, and desperately needs you to “Pick. Him. Up!!!!” at every moment is not easy. But it isn’t terrible, either. It is such a beautiful thing to be wanted. And I typically hold my breath for the times when H asks to “snuggle,” so snuggling for an entire day (or two or three) shouldn’t really seem so bad, should it? No. It shouldn’t. But holding and coddling a wee one for the entirety of the day (minus one, not-so-long-when-he’s-sick nap time) also means letting life pile up…dishes, laundry, todo’s, rescheduled plans, MY life. Oh, how much I hate it when my thoughts on how the day should go are so far flung from reality.
And yet, this is largely what parenting is about. A shifting of priorities and self in order to make room for and care for something (someone) far more important than any (ok, almost any) of our own day to day needs or desires. Yep. We still have to eat and sleep and get cleaned up and feel human and nurture a few essential relationships, but most all else can fall to the wayside when the care of our little ones is at stake, and we are called to figure that out. It’s fair to say that I feel called, not just to figure it out, but to figure it out well. When I start to experience that creeping, ugly side of my selfish nature that leaks into my communication or translates into a lack of patience or grace for our boy, I pray for the strength to cut it off quickly. This kind of behavior seeps (un-rightly) sometimes into our adult relationships, but as adults, we can sort out the emotion or drain behind the communication and come to terms. Does my almost two year old translate my ugly side so graciously or perceptively just yet? No. And he should not. He can see the tired or sad or frustrated or run down side of me without being exposed to the baggage that comes with those moments…after all, I’m his mama. And I want to be the safest place for him to turn to, next to Christ.
So what am I trying to say, exactly, at the end of this long day when I was needed so greatly and all I really wanted was a whiny, self-imposed break? I’m trying to say that I do need a break, yes. But more than that, I needed a little time this afternoon and tonight just to ponder how gloriously blessed and grateful I am, and to recognize that the thing that had me in such a funk for a few hours this morning was the very same things I so prayed for and desired only a few years ago. The grass is always greener, or something like that.
The grass is always greener isn’t my conclusion. My takeaway is that I’m being called to the hardest, most rewarding job I’ve ever had to manage, and that today was one of those, “in the trenches” days that reminds me how fortunate I am to be doing the thing that I love. Sometimes I look at our bug and I still can’t believe we have him–healthy, whole, exuberant, growing strong. I consider the circumstances of the day for so many others who would give anything to walk in someone else’s shoes, and I am once again humbled. Today I curled up on the couch with a recovering kiddo who just needed his mama, and I was able to be here–fully present, amidst the snow and the dishes and the canceled plans that could all wait. Not that many years ago this was all just a distant possibility for “someday.” A hope I clung to for the future and prayed about with my whole heart. God was actually answering this prayer of mine today–and again, if I really think about it. How many other answered prayers and God-ordained moments might I miss, if I’m busy grumbling about what I think I need, instead of serving the need that He has provided for me to fill, right here under my own roof? With my own sweet little boy? With my own two hands?
tomorrow, my eyes will be wide open. you can count on that. and i pray that H will feel perfectly back to normal in the morning, but not for my own sake. so thankful for that,