Nap time is upon us, and I sigh heavy. I’ve been waiting for nap time today since the dawning of the sun, it seems. I’ve spent most of the morning de-cluttering, but this can be a difficult project, what with my 2-year-old stomping through my piles, making a break out the front door and down the road to the playground (twice), and barking cranky orders at me as he continues his quest to assert his newly discovered mean streak. And I fear we’re in for a long upbringing with him, since he yells with the power of an angry dictator and is wildly encouraged by how adorable the general public thinks that kind of behavior is, coming from a tiny boy with 2-inch eyelashes and swoon-worthy baby blues.
It’s been the kind of day that I look at these kids I love and my heart cracks and my feathers ruffle when I wonder how, despite my best efforts, they have been infected like the rest of us with the disease of privilege.
“I don’t want to sleep in my sister’s bed”, my oldest (11) says, when I tell him the sleeping arrangements will change when his beloved grandma comes to visit. His face crumples in disgust. I don’t like sleeping in other people’s beds.” His video game controller is hot in his hands and his room is strewn with gifts and toys and clothes, and he begins to complain about how cramped we are here in this house that’s not really ours, and how unfair it all is anyway. I hear the ingratitude and it burns and angers and I tell him he’d do well to realize how lucky he is to have a bed at all, especially since he’s the only one of the twelve of us with his own bedroom and bathroom. Not to mention an endless supply of food and shelter and all his needs provided for.
So often lately, I wonder if I’ve missed something as I’ve raised them or whether the intrigue of worldly pleasures is just so overwhelming for little ones in our culture, today. And with each passing day, I become more and more disgusted by the stuff that clutters our home and heart and calendars, and I wonder if the amount of peace and gratitude we are capable of experiencing is inversely proportionate to the amount of crap that sits upon our shelves. I’ve come to dread the portion of holidays that involves the tearing off of gift wrap because no amount of effort on my part can discourage our relatives from spoiling them rotten, and while I haul bag after bag off to Goodwill, I can’t seem to escape the plastic wonderland that consumes their little hearts and minds and hands as I ever try to fill it with matters that matter more.
And today, I’m defeated by all of it. I want the U-Haul trucks to come and haul it all away – my stuff, my kids’ stuff, and the resident kids’ stuff that begins to define all of us… and stifle, and maim, and seemingly squash our ability to see past our own noses.
In case you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard of Ann Voskamp (just kidding), the “gift counting” I’m talking about here is the challenge she ushers in her beautiful book, One Thousand Gifts. Find more info here: www.aholyexperience.com.