I challenge myself every year to think outside the thankfulness box of plenty, food, and clothes, although I am very grateful for them. But, I ask, “What are the things I am most tempted to gripe about, or to rebel against, or even just to resist?” Then I write them down and I look at them upside down and inside out. It is funny how that exercise helps me adjust my attitudes. Sometimes I blog about the list, and you may remember some of these from other years. I don’t learn too fast, apparently. I know I have wasted too much time on some of these, and it is good to examine them again. I think my perspective changes, thanks to the first one on the list.
- The inevitable march of time
- My husband’s work schedule
- Living in such a public place
- Homeschooling pressures/obligations
- So many meals to cook
So, I am getting older. I have lived through enough to merit having grey hair. I really don’t care. And I can laugh when my little girl whispers in church, “Are you pregnant… or are you just plump?” I know my style and it doesn’t matter so much anymore if it’s nobody else’s style. I can do Thanksgiving the day before Thanksgiving because my husband has to work on Thanksgiving Day. This will not ruin our holiday because I have discovered that I have the power to choose to be thankful.
This brings me to the long shifts and mandatory work days on other people’s holidays and weekends. I admit, when it first dawned on me that nurses work these shifts, like, all the time, I cried. Now with a few years of dealing and perspective, I see it a little more realistically. A work week goes by very quickly in 3 twelve hour shifts. It is a dream come true to work together developing our property and having the opportunity to go on short trips and campouts and hikes on those strings of days off. How can I fuss that they aren’t on the weekends and the holidays? (I do it still sometimes. Ask Gabe. I am not Polly Anna.)
We live 20 feet off the road and have kind of gotten used to other people minding our business, such as someone calling the police when our girls were sliding on the frozen pond while their father was working right there in the pasture, after he had checked to be sure the ice was safe. Sometimes I get really tired of being in the public eye, right here between two intersections. We let our children build fires and make shelters in the woods and sleep outside when they want to. They own hatchets and knives and sometimes they build barns instead of doing school books. Occasionally the whole troop is outside chasing goats and screaming. People get very concerned about this sort of thing. But at least we are never far away from help. All we need to do is stand out beside the road for half a minute and someone will drive past and we can flag them down. Not that this has ever happened, but it could. We are also 1/4 mile from the north/south interstate and 6 miles from the east/west interstate. I mean, that is linked in!
(Here is our front porch with some withered gourds, our lane with some excited little girls in the first snow, our picket fence with some dead flowers, and The Road with no cars at the moment.)
I will not elaborate on the ways that homeschooling stretches me, because right now it feels like we have hit our stride and I do not want to tip the delicate balance. I am thankful for the chance to learn stuff about Teddy Roosevelt in my son’s library research report and to plug away every day with my older son’s algebra lessons. I got a 78% in my last exam because I got terribly confused with some terms we were supposed to have memorized. That simply is not good enough, so we dig more neural pathways every day! Homeschooling also keeps my heart turned toward my children. How could it not? We hang out together every day. It is, most assuredly, not all fun and games! But it keeps me begging for mercy and wisdom and that is a good place to be so I am grateful.
The food… honestly, sometimes I just get so tired of all the necessary food! Practice has helped me get better at it though. I don’t panic about visitors at mealtime if I have any sort of advance warning at all. I can adjust quantities and stretch a pound of ground beef, no sweat. I can now get up and cook a turkey and all the trimmings for a feast. I have even managed a kitchen for a wedding meal. So all this food is teaching me stuff. I know my bread recipe by heart. I can make soup out of fridge leftovers that tastes actually really good. And here is the thing. There is always plenty. I may have to hide the treats sometimes to keep them safe from the ravenous horde of children who ought first to eat their vegetables. But the treats are there and all I had to do was put some ingredients in a bowl and bake them. I can do this. I am grateful.
Okay, interruptions. Interruptions come from a very full and busy life. Which means people are depending on me to find their shoes and put salve on their hurt fingers and pick the burdocks out of their hair. Never mind that I was trying to answer an email in a coherent fashion right then. And then I remembered that I should hang the sheets on the line and while I was outside I noticed that the dog chewed a hole in a bag of trash and scattered it all around. The porch could use a brush off with a broom too. There are shoes and a jacket right smack inside the door and a child needs a reprimand. Let’s see… Oh, yes, that email. But it was only one of a million things to think about. As chaotic as it may seem sometimes, I realize that I have a life! I am truly grateful.