7.18.2013

jealousy and grateful without words

I get these ideas of things I want to do, and then feel the pressure to do them. (See last post.) I have an Oh Life account in which I write about cute things my kids do that I wish to not forget, but I will go months without writing in it. Then, I'll decide that I'm going to write in it every day, which works for maybe two weeks, before I get tired of feeling the pressure to write about things the kids did throughout the day, as well as writing grammatically correct, and I'll drop it all together. Every time I log in, I see a theme of a cluster of entries, and then nothing for four or five months.

I want to read my Bible every day, but I'll skip a couple days and feel guilty, feel the pressure to catch up with the reading schedule, then give up all together because I'm five chapters behind.

I want to post in my blog every week, but I want to make sure to include photographs with every post, but it takes so much time to take pictures, put them on my computer, edit them, upload them to my blog, post them, and then write the words to go along with them. I don't have time for that! So I forget writing all together.

I want to go running every other day, but I have one bad day and I give up.

I want to teach River to read, but I can't find a perfect time of day during which to sit down and quietly go through his reading book, so I give up.

I see a pattern here. I have expectations for myself, and if I can't fulfill my goal entirely, 100%, then I give up. (See last post.) What an awful way to live life!

I'm officially done feeling guilty. I'm done trying to do things perfectly. It started this morning as I stopped at Target to pick up a carton of creamer. I poured that deliciousness into my strong cup of coffee, grinned at my sister, and said, "I don't feel guilty. I like cream in my coffee. It's easy for me to drink almond milk instead of cow milk and to not eat cheese, but I freaking love creamer in my coffee. And that's okay." Who knew a cup of coffee with cream could feel so liberating?

My latest idea was to start a gratefulness journal, inspired by Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, and write something for which I am grateful every day. The truth is, I've been feeling really grateful lately. I look at where my life was three years ago, compared to where it is now, and I know that I am blessed beyond what I need. I am thankful for my hard-working husband, for my two healthy children, my two-bedroom apartment, the playground that is right outside our door. I'm thankful for the summer weather that has been pleasantly cooperative lately. I'm thankful that my sister moved here from New York. I'm thankful that I enjoy reading. I'm thankful that I get to drink coffee every day and wear makeup when I want. (There was a time when we were so "poor," we couldn't afford to buy a pound of ground coffee or foundation for myself. 'Murica.) Our car hasn't been working properly for the last month, and it's going to be an expensive fix, but damn! I'm thankful I have a car to fix! And I'm thankful for my bike! Which is really working out my butt, by the way. (Riding a bike is like doing squats one leg at a time for 30 minutes. It is awesome, my legs feel awesome, it comes with A/C, and it is actually fun. Squats are overrated. Ride a bike.)

Displaying gratefulness shouldn't become a chore. And I know if I make it into something I tell myself I had to do, I would stop enjoying it. This time, I am being realistic about my new goal -- instead of buying a brand new notebook (all my endeavors involve a new notebook) and diving into it, I thought, Wait. This is just going to end up being one more thing on my list. Do I need one more thing on my list? I thought I was throwing The List out. 

I am displaying gratefulness to God when I choose to be positive as a parent and use every moment as a teaching moment. I am not a naturally positive person. I get stressed easy,and am incredibly impatient with my kids. Some days are worse, and when I have a few good weeks, the tension seems to build until I lose it.

"This moment is as it is," is my mantra lately. To stop looking at a moment as negative or positive, and just accepting it for what it is. So Austen's throwing the screaming fit of a lifetime -- what am I going to do about it? This moment is as it is. I can't make her stop. I can only control myself. I can loose my patience, yell at her, or give in. Or I can treat her with patience and love and be consistent, so that she has security and learns self-control. Let my yes be yes and my no be no. This moment is as it is. Thank you, God, for allowing me to mother this strong-willed little girl, and choosing me to guide her along and teach her how to deal with her emotions in a positive and efficient way.

My display of gratitude is to pray against feelings of jealousy. This feels so weird to write publicly, because I've always been pretty non-materialistic. I don't really care about things. But when I see couples who are in the same age bracket as us, with two children, and they have big houses and gardens and new cars and chickens (I really want chickens... I'm jealous of people's chickens, okay?!) and their children attend Montessori daycare and take t-ball and soccer and dance and swim lessons and they go on vacations every year... I get jealous. I admit it. I was getting so jealous, I could hardly see straight. And I didn't even realize it was jealousy, it came into my heart so sneakily and bitterly.

This is a huge deal to me. I don't get jealous. What changed in me that made me this person?

Every time I started stalking someone on Instagram and picking out little things that annoy me about that person, simply because the human part of me is jealous that they have chickens and they can afford to put their kids are in soccer lessons, I prayed against it. I was working against those emotions less, because they weren't coming up as much. I don't want that in my life. I want to be happy, content with what I have. Grateful for what I have. Because I have a lot more than I did three years ago. I have a lot more than what many people have. My dream has never been the "American dream," so why should it be now? I need to focus on my own idea of a successful, happy life. Not someone else's.

My display of gratitude is to enjoy the small moments and appreciating the positive. I know that sounds cliche, but for me it works. Looking out my window and seeing the sun reflect off the wispy hair of the children playing at the park. Feeling a breeze through my open window. Smelling the fresh pot of coffee all the way in my bedroom. Enjoying the way my bedroom looks when the bed is made, all the clothes are put away, and the floor is vacuumed. Ah, yes. That's the stuff. I am thankful for these little moments, little scenes in my life that are just... pleasant. Good. Quiet. Gentle. Simple.

Gratefulness, for me, is positive, content, and appreciative.

I don't plan on starting a gratitude journal. I don't plan on doing much lately. I do plan to keep drinking cream in my coffee. And I do plan on saying a simple thank you when I realize I'm living one of the little moments that makes life nice.

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