Last Saturday, Paul was working and the kids and I took a long drive to visit family for an Easter celebration. We were winding through country roads, looking out the window for cows and horses, you know, anything to keep the kids entertained. Spotting an old farmhouse nestled in some trees on acres of beautiful land, I pointed it out to the kids. “Check out that house, guys!” It was a harmless gesture. I love houses. I love looking at houses. I appreciate beautiful houses. I didn’t mean anything by it.
The first words out of my oldest son’s mouth were, “No fair!” Then my almost six year old daughter started repeating it too, “No fair, no fair, no fair!”
As a parent I try my hardest to hide my shock in any given distressing situation. Overreaction, I’ve found, is a fail-safe way to ensure a behavior will repeat itself, having the exact opposite effect you’d like. So I choked back my surprise and slowly constructed my response.
These ungrateful children! How could they? We give them everything they could possibly need!! And they think its not fair they don’t have an amazing huge farmhouse on twenty acres of land? The last time I asked them to come play outside with me they were so glued to the xbox I don’t even think they heard what I said. We just went to Disneyworld for crying out loud!!!! How about a little gratitude for what they have instead of wishing they had something else or someone else’s life??
Flashback to a day last week when what I didn’t have was all I could think about. When comparing my home to someone else’s left me ungrateful and dissatisfied. As you can imagine I was grumpy that day. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own.
Here I am, the believer, mother, and wife, the decorator & stylist, sharing with others on how to make the most of what they have, how to live a life of beauty and purpose; and yet I can fall prey to the trap of comparison. The poison of discontent works quickly. One minute I think I’m doing fine, the next minute I’m steeped in Instagram and Pinterest images, feeling like I don’t quite measure up.
I silently wondered as we drove on if they had learned it from me. If they had watched their mom huff and puff in discontent with her stuff, comparing it with someone else’s. If they had overheard the conversations about somedays and savings; about new bathrooms and new couches. About all those things that never truly satisfy. That are like chasing after the wind.
Don’t you love when those little children you’re raising become mirrors into your own soul?
We did have a little talk in the car that day about contentment and gratitude of course, but I was talking to myself, too. Praying for eyes that see what’s right in front of me.
“It is better to be content with what the eyes can see than for one’s heart always to crave more. This continual longing is futile- like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 6:9 NET