As I sit here, my house looks pretty much respectable. This, of course, is because E1 and E2 are asleep. At any moment, they will awaken from their slumbers and begin, once again, to terrorize and demonize each other, the dog, and anything else in their path. I will bemoan 'my poor house' and 'all my hard work', seemingly wasted in a heartbeat. It's easy enough to do. I worked hard to clean this joint up, and I'd like to see it stay that way, if just for a little bit.
But this weekend, we will all get together, my father's family and we, to celebrate my grandmother's 85th birthday. Gathering with so many at once puts things into a little perspective for me. My grandparents did not have full indoor plumbing until my father was in high school. My grandmother raised her own 5 children, as well as parenting a host of other children, on $20 a week for groceries. She and my grandfather took in boarders to help out financially. Road crews would board at their house while building the new highway in front of their farm. She even climbed out the bedroom window, so the men in her living room would not realize she was in labour and headed to the hospital. Christmas presents were often homemade and always presented in brown paper grocery bags.
So, when I despair about having 'all this house to clean' or 'not needing any more work to do', I need to stop myself. We have been blessed with this home and these children and far more things than my grandmother could ever have imagined having to worry about.
When I am ready to pack it in, ship the kids off to day care, and talk to 'real people' for a change, I'll take a quick look around and notice some emtpy arms. Family from whom God has chosen to withhold children of their own. The cousin whose medical condition prevents she and her husband from having children. The uncle and aunt who have adopted from overseas, but face the constant conversation about wanting to go back and 'find my real mom'. The aunt and uncle who filled their home with five boys, but never dolls and dresses.
Truly, I look at E1 and E2 and wonder what right I have to complain about anything?
When the kids run around, making noise, knocking things over, and generally causing chaos and destruction, I will remember my little cousin Adryan. He was born over 2 months early, and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Although currently undergoing a number of promising therapies, he cannot walk on his own, labours to feed himself, and communicates in a pretty limited way for a three year old. The only mess in my cousins' house is the mess they leave behind. The pitter-patter of little feet is actually the painfully slow turning of the wheels of Adryan's walker. And, although he laughs and smiles in a truly heart melting way, as of yet, we don't know exactly how much he understands.
So, today, when I am tempted to throw up my hands, pull out my hair, and wallow in a thoroughly deep trench of 'poor me's', I will stop and remember my family. A group of slightly left-of-centre individuals God has placed in my life as a mirror to help me see my own selfishness a little more clearly.