Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Being Thankful

Every once in a while the kids say or do something that makes me think that MAYBE I'm getting through to them. That happened this week with Tatton. Shortly after Lane received his Birthday presents, Tatton came down with a case of the woe-is-me-gimmes (go figure...) It went something like this:

"I don't have ANYTHING! EVERYONE has WAY more than me! Why can't I just have ONE single thing that I want for once?"

Note: This is one of my all time biggest pet peeves as a mother. I simply cannot stand putting in my blood, sweat, and tears just to be met with ungrateful whines and pleas that make it so brutally clear that my all will never be quite good enough. That said... I get it. I do. He's only almost 11 and let's face it- a human. Who of us hasn't thought that the grass just MIGHT be greener on the other side of the fence once or twice? So... I held my tongue (this time.) I simply stared at him as he went off about the injustice.

Then, he paused. The saying "I could see the wheels turning in his head" seems exceptionally appropriate as I felt like I could literally watch his brain switch gears. Seeming to be suddenly aware that he sounded like a big ingrate, he tried a new tactic. It went something like this:

"Okay, I know... I know... I have shelter, and food, and clothing, and education. Oh, and health care. But I mean, besides having my basic needs met... I don't have..."

He stumbled around with that for a few minutes more (going on and on about how ALL of the kids in his class have way more modern technology and way funner toys than we do) as I continued to stare at him in silence. Thankfully, he switched gears again. Just as quickly as his tirade had started, he let out a deep sigh of resignation and said, "I think I'm gonna shut up now." and turned around and walked out looking content as the cat that caught the canary.

I love that his thoughts basically came full circle and I never had to even utter a word. It's so interesting to me actually. The thing is, I have a major problem with the way that we as a society are so "gimme" oriented. I remember several years ago when I was a teenage mom and I felt like I had to bend over backwards to try to achieve enough to allow my children to have a "real" life. Of course, my ideals were unrealistic and when they weren't met, we all survived. Not to mention, learned and grew. That's when I first realized my first mistake: I thought that in order to be a "real" happy family we had to be living the "American Dream" which in my mind was a perfect suburban house with a white picket fence and 2.5 kids that were in every extracurricular activity imaginable and were always perfectly dressed. Only:

A. The concept of an "American Dream" didn't actually make all that much sense when I considered that when you break the words down what you're looking at is America (not the whole world or even all of the developed countries but one lone country that isn't all that popular due to it's known greed and corruption) and Dream (which can be defined as a series of mental images and emotions occurring in the mind; "I had a dream about you last night"
imaginative thoughts indulged in while awake; "he lives in a dream that has nothing to do with reality" have a daydream; indulge in a fantasy ;a state of mind characterized by abstraction and release from reality; "he went about his work as if in a dream" ) So, I was stressing myself out about an imaginative thought that is connected to a lifestyle in one country. My real life was still way better than a lot of other people's and as poor as I felt at times I was definitely better off than most of the people in Africa and Afghanistan just to name a couple of places.

And B. Nothing will ever be enough unless we first appreciate what we have. We all do it. We want that new car so badly. Then, after we've had it for a little while we start looking around at all of the other new vehicles on the road and we don't like our car that much anymore. Don't get me started on how many times I've changed my mind on what color I want my kitchen painted alone. And no matter how long ago you bought your cell phone / computer / gaming system you can bet that something newer and better is in on the horizon sooner than you can call your new crack berry a dinosaur. When will we ever be satisfied unless we stop in our tracks and take stock of how much we actually have to be thankful for?

My point is this: I'm so relieved that even though Tatton got greedy for a moment, I'm so relieved that he caught on to his thought error & corrected it on his own. It gives me hope that MAYBE someday my kids will be able to look back on their childhood with fond memories of family togetherness and special traditions and feel like they were blessed. This parenting thing can get a little scary and it's nice to have hope that I'm not just raising materialistic people who don't know how to be thankful for how good life really is. What are you thankful for?


  1. That is great Natalie! It is amazing when we can actually see that our parenting is actually if nothing else, somewhat effective! With the way the economy is, and us being classified as "low income", I've really been trying to make the children see that having everything isn't what makes a person happy. In fact, the other day, Ashley was being pretty ungrateful, so I took all her toys away and put them in a trash bag. She has barely even noticed! She's perfectly happy with her sketch pad and a few books! And she recognizes that! She pouted around for a few days, but then she had a "wheels are grinding" moment, and said the same thing, about having a roof over her head, and food on the table! lol. We must sound pretty reduntant! ;-)
    Lately, I've been doing a lot of introspective analyzing, because of some stressful situations in my life, but I've been trying to remind myself that I have A) A roof over my head B) A working car that gets us where we need to go, and C) time with my family because we can't afford to do anything else BUT spend time together!! LOL.
    No really, I'm really thankful to watch my children grow, no matter how nostalgic it may seem, to see my baby boy turning in to a *sigh* toddler, to see my daughter learning how to handle inner conflicts, and to see my other daughter growing and learning, and becoming more independent. I'm just thankful for the wonderful family I have, and the time I get to spend with them, and to see that I really am making a difference!

  2. Wow! I see we're on roughly the same blogging schedule: June, November... And when I do finally blog, it doesn't even move me up on anyone's sidebar! What is up with that?

    Love your thoughts, I'm always amazed at how entertaining you can make serious thoughts. Miss you lately! We'll have to chat...