This is a tough one. This post is about being grateful even when you don’t want to be. Isn’t that hard? I know it is for me. There are times when I know that what I have is so much better than what a lot of people have but it isn’t what I want so I almost wish I didn’t have it at all.
I’m not talking about keeping up with the Joneses–having a new car or taking a vacation. I think I’ve gotten past all of that. Maybe. Sort of. Okay, I’m still working on that one. I’ve yet to figure out how some people can afford to do some of the things that they do. I am coming to realize that how we spend money (for the most part) is a matter of choice. I try to tell myself that when one of my friends comments about their vacation or new house, or new car. They are choosing to spend their money differently that I am. My husband and I made a choice to put our kids before our careers. During NORMAL economic times (which these are not) both my husband and I could likely be making a nice six figure salary (which we aren’t right now. I promise!) BUT, that six figure salary would put all of the kids in after school programs and daycare. It would likely require both of us to travel with our jobs. We would probably have a lot more expensive wardrobes to maintain (complete with dry cleaning, something I NEVER do unless someone dies and my husband needs his suit cleaned). There would also likely be way more take out meals, meals eaten in the car on the way to and from activities, and less quality family time.
So instead, my husband has a fairly stable and secure job (knock on wood) where there is limited travel and minimal overtime. It is the very rare night that he isn’t at the dinner table by six o’clock. He has the flexibility to attend important events at the school even if they are during the day. I figure this blessing is costing us quite a few zeros at the end of his paycheck. It is something that the kids never realize is a blessing. To them, Dad is around. He does travel a few times a year, but it is the exception rather than the rule.
Likewise, I freelance only as much as I can from home. I am truly blessed to have a job that lets me work from home and the downside is that it does tend to limit the amount of work that I can do. The funny thing is, more than once my kids have commented that, “You’re always working,”‘ because that’s what they see me do at home. Being that multitasking is one of my superhero powers, they don’t realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have a mom at home. In fact, my daughter routinely gripes that she wants to do the after school program because all her friends are. I seriously cannot win around her so I’m starting to refuse to play her game.
And this leads me to my J.O.B. I haven’t had one in almost a year. Oh, little things here and there–some teaching and small things–but I went out on maternity leave in March and stayed home with the kids all summer. Usually, in a NORMAL economy, September rolls around and I begin working until just before the Christmas holidays. I think we all know that this isn’t a normal economy. There hasn’t been a great deal of writing work needed in this recession. My main clients were financial and pharma companies–both of whom are treading water right now. I was starting to think I wouldn’t eve work again (wishful thinking).
So now I finally have a job. It is fun and interesting, but there is a part of me that really LOVED playing with the baby–with teaching her new things and making her laugh. I feel like I missed that with the other two because I was working almost full-time when I was with them. With all the things on my plate, I’m worried that my writing and the few things that I do for myself are going to be the things that I have to give up. But I am grateful that I have a job. Immensely grateful as I’ve watched our bank account get smaller and smaller. I don’t even open our retirement envelopes anymore.
I found a definition of grateful that I especially like: “recognizing the importance of a source of pleasure.” I like it because it doesn’t necessarily mean that I am happy with the situation. I know that there is going to be a lot more juggling required on my part to keep the schedules of both the work and house and volunteer stuff all up in the air at the same time. But, I do recognize the importance of this source of pleasure. And by pleasure I mean the ability to pay all these darn bills and put a little positive cash flow on the old checking account.
What are you grateful for? What do you feel guilty for not feeling grateful for? Sometimes it is hard to appreciate something that we really don’t want. I plan on listing the most important things that are essential to me and make sure that they stay at the top of my list. Some of the busy-ness is going to have to fall by the wayside. I think cleaning and laundry should be the first things that go.