What a kid can teach you about gratitude
I was taken aback sitting across from her. “Why?” I asked.
“Because I got a root beer.”
That stopped me in my tracks. There was no way I was putting this particular day in my top 10. It had started with me rushing to make a 9:30 doctor’s appointment with a specialist at the Hospital. In tow, a 10, 4, 2 and 1/2 year old. The Tall Girl had to get a suspiciously growing mole examined. Sitting on the exam table she suddenly asked: “Mom, what does cancer feel like?” I guess my husband and I weren’t as circumspect as we thought.
Later, one of the doctors came in and took a look. “Any family history of the big ‘C'”? Again, I’m hoping that my girl is distracted by the little monkeys climbing over everything. Final Verdict — the weird bump growing on her head would have to be removed or “shaved.” Oh, and she would have to be left alone, since I would be out in the waiting area supervising the little kids.
By the time I had shepparded by brave little girl, her bickering preschool sibs, and the world’s largest stroller to the Hospital cafeteria, I had had more than enough of that particular Thursday. My soda-rationed eldest wanted a root beer, and lo and behold, they had a whole shelf of chilled bottles in the cooler case. Life for her was good.
And why shouldn’t it be good, I asked myself? The mole started itching, so we caught that it was changing, even though it was hidden under a mound of hair. The doctors were kind and efficient. The procedure apparently didn’t hurt, and the medical staff told Tall Girl that she was braver than some 30 year olds. The doctor assured me that whatever was there had been completely removed, and so my girl was out of danger. No one had a melt down or blow out diaper. Root beer was in stock and the right temperature. So, who was I to complain?
I realized then, that I was upset not at what had happened, but at the fact that it wasn’t what I wanted to have happen. It was a question of control. I had decided at some point, that if things weren’t my way, then I should be miserable. It’s like that old saying, “Bitterness is drinking poison and hoping the other person dies.” I was mad that I had to be there, that my daughter might have a problem, that I was inconvenienced. Instead, my child looked at the fact that everything was okay, and she got a treat to boot.
It’s pretty hard as a Mom to undo this “the way it’s supposed to be” mindset. Really, it is actually needed for the job. We are constantly called to set the standards for our kids behaviour, our household cleanliness, and our family’s lifestyle. We are the ones in control, and we are judged on how well we can act on our vision. Most kids would not make it out the door to school in the morning, without Mom insisting that her idea of promptness be adhered to. Could you imagine Birthday Parties, family vacations, or even Christmas morning, without some of well, let’s just call it what it is, motherly bossiness? It’s often up to us.
That’s why it was nice to be reminded to let go. I can’t control everything, and that’s okay. Life is often sweeter in the unexpected and unwanted moments — when the kids ignored the craft and want to play tag, when supper is delayed and you all hang out in the kitchen waiting for the turkey to cook, or when you decide to forgive the tantrums and still stop for ice cream. Like the time when Tall Girl got a bunch of hand me downs and was so grateful.
“They’re the best because they are 4 years old, so no one else has them. No one will come to school dressed like me.”
I was about argue that actually, new clothes are better, but then I stopped myself. Here, my little girl was teaching me again, what I had forgotten.
Sometimes the sweetest thing is what life gives you right now.