Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How an Easter Dress Taught Me About Gratitude

How an Easter Dress Taught Me About Gratitude -- "Oh no, I haven't gotten a new Easter dress yet!" My oldest daughter cried from the recesses of her bedroom closet... and then we all learned to be a little more grateful for what we have.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

"Oh no, I haven't gotten a new Easter dress yet!" my oldest daughter exclaimed from the recesses of her bedroom closet.

We were smack in the middle of the Great Closet Cleanout, which happens approximately once a week since my children are fond of throwing their dirty clothes on the closet floor, then sprinkling clean clothes and used towels from the shower on top just for good measure.

I wondered for a moment why that thought even crossed my daughter's mind. I don't think I've ever bought her an "Easter dress" in her life, mostly because I don't buy stuff unless we need it and I like to think of us as minimalists. Also because I'm cheap.

But as my daughter organized her closet full of dresses and claimed to need another one, I realized we were far from minimalists. 

We're drowning in a culture of excess, to the point where the only problems that could even exist in my kids' minds are first-world ones.

During summer vacation from school, the kids and I take a pretend "trip around the world," learning about different countries in an attempt to keep young brains from atrophying. During the week we "visited" Mauritania, we got a book from the library about what Mauritanian kids do all day.

A popular children's game in Mauritania, just like here in New England, is soccer. But while my children get chauffeured to the field in our air-conditioned Kia and enjoy a snack brought by the coach at halftime, the kids in the book were playing barefoot in the dirt and kicking around a wad of plastic shopping bags secured with a rubber band.

My kids have so many toys, books, games, and dress ups that we have to rotate them in and out of the attic. 

The kids in the book played with little cars they fashioned from wire hangers and pieces of tinfoil  toys they literally made out of trash.

Most of the time I try not to think about this too much, because when I do, it disgusts me. Not just because we have so much, but because we're constantly complaining about it. 

Last summer, a friend and I took our kids to the lake and watched them splashing around while we commiserated about how impossible it all is: the cooking, the cleaning, the dropping off and picking up. And that part about helping our kids grow up to be halfway decent people, too. 

When there was a lull in the conversation I said jokingly, "Well, let's just lounge on the beach and complain about how hard our lives are." We laughed, and our talk turned to other things. 

But really, I've got no excuse to be unsatisfied. Yes, my floor is littered with crusty noodles and splatters of dried spaghetti sauce from last night, but it means that I have a floor. And walls. And a roof. 

It means I have enough food to feed my children and extra to spare. 

Most of all, it means that I have 5 beautiful, healthy kids who don't have to worry about anything bigger than what they're going to wear on Easter Sunday. 

And that is truly something to be grateful for.

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Unknown said...

I agree with your thoughts and I am definitely grateful to not have to deal with the struggles of everyday life in the same way that people in places like Mauritania do. We obviously have a lot compared to them. I don't think we should always disregard our own problems though, just because they aren't as great as someone else's.

Unknown said...

I agree completely- it is just so easy to always be comparing up but it is humbling to compare down and we should count our blessings for what we *do* have more often. X

Unknown said...

Lovely post. Sometimes it is SO easy to get caught up in our first world problems. Mainly because so many of us have never suffered through such a state of poor. Just last night I was moping about how I needed a new laptop and we just don't have the pocket change for it at the moment. However, my kids are well fed, we have a roof over our heads, and while times can be tough, we defiantly have it better than so many others.

Tarana Khan said...

That's the way it works I guess. One of the things that really riles me is food wastage. I wish there was a better way of managing food resources. And tell me about excesses - I live in Dubai!

Jenny Evans said...

So... been skiing lately??

Lara Neves said...

Sometimes it amazes me what my children expect. Whether it's because other kids their age all have x item or because I have unwittingly taught them to expect it. I love your idea about taking a trip around the world in the summer. Occasionally things like that have opened my eyes (and my kids' eyes) to just how much we have! Great post!

Louise said...

Such a great thought-provoking post. I think we all can be guilty of complaining about what we don't have and not stopping to realise how incredibly lucky we are. I love your idea of going on a virtual trip around the world and learning more about life in other countries too.

Let's Talk Mommy said...

Lovely post. We really should all be more grateful for what we have and see how hard others have it should make us all realize how fortune we are. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

Jenny Evans said...

I think I'll document our trip on our blog this summer so you can follow along if you'd like. It's a lot of work and I tried to wheedle my way out of it last summer, but the kids wouldn't let me.

Tabitha Blue said...

Yes, yes and yes!! This is so good and I completely feel the same way. For one, we have the great closet clean out weekly too, because gross… and kids. But I agree, we've spent the last year trying to slowly simplify our lives, which in our culture isn't easy to do! Teaching our kids about gratitude and how blessed we are is so important!! We truly are so blessed.

sharon rowe said...

Thought provoking and true! Thanks for sharing on Monday Madness link party :)

Unknown said...

You are so right! Many people get so caught up on the little things that they forget to see the bigger picture of it all: the fact that there are little things to worry about is a blessing within itself. Thank you for such a great reminder!

Anonymous said...

It's all relative. The people in those other countries don't know any different.