In fact, most of the time, I’m a giant whiner. Given what I watched my mom go through, and what I know other people in my world are going through, I hate to admit that. But it’s the truth, and–for everyone who follows the ups and downs of life around here–I’d feel like a fraud if I didn’t say so.
Wallowing has hit hard this week. The reality of a “it cost almost as much as our house (seriously)” basement remodel and five kids in some form of day care and increased activities and appetites and Brad’s “it’ll only be a year or two (or three)” pay cut to teach and coach at a school where he saw himself staying long-term is setting in. While I’m not the biggest spender, I’m also not the greatest budgeter, and having to think about the most economical way to feed and clothe and entertain five kids, while keeping them safely housed and transported, is frying my nerves, if only because it’s one (or, really, several) more thing(s) to plan.
As an aside, not running isn’t helping matters.
Anyway, that’s where I’ve been–just grouchy. And it finally hit me tonight, as I try to help Brad raise these kids into productive human beings, that I’m being a huge hypocrite.
I’ve probably said, “Well, we don’t always get what we want,” twenty times to Keaton this week, and I’ve told all of them to be patient and kind, to work hard and try their best and–here’s the kicker–be grateful three times as much.
I expect of them what I don’t expect of myself. It’s one of the biggest lessons of leadership–which is really what parenting is–and I break it practically every time I open my mouth.
Brad and I shot each other a couple of emails back and forth today, commiserating on the tornado-like winds that have torn the proverbial money tree to shreds, and he said (most likely to push my buttons, knowing how much I want a second vehicle that can fit all of us), “Hang on for a few more years, Hyundai!,” referring to his little Elantra with upwards of 150,000 miles on it.
And while it irritated me, I’ve decided (at least, in this moment) that if our biggest problem is having to juggle cars depending on who’s picking up who and eat a few more grilled cheese sandwiches and not get the kids every thing they really want (or, more accurately, get me everything I really want), that’s more than OK.
In fact, given how busy our schedule is getting and how easy it would be to drift in a million directions, it’s probably what we all need. We all need every day life and every day decisions to be something we think about and talk about and work through together. I think we need things to be a little bit (relatively speaking) hard.
There’s a line in a “Storypeople” print by Brian Andreas that says, “Most people don’t know there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don’t get too comfortable & fall asleep & miss your life.”
Brad and I occasionally talk about how much easier it would be if we’d stopped having kids after Hutton, imagining all of the stuff we’d be able to do and buy and see. But, having and knowing the other three, I can’t even comprehend all of the life we’d miss.
It’d be easier but it’d be “less.”
For the next year or two (or three), I’m going with that…