Do you like stuff? I love stuff! I love buying stuff and doing stuff and dreaming about stuff. And by stuff, I mean all the things that money can buy. Regardless of whether they are going to bring meaning to my life. If It’s pretty, or new or even just something that will make me feel good for a short amount of time. There seems to always be a craving for more. Are these things satisfying a craving, though? Or are they simply enabling a cycle of emptiness and ungratefulness? The want and need for more, new and better are just signs that you need more than just to satisfy those cravings with useless things. It’s a warning that you have a void to fill with more meaningful “stuff”. It is a lesson that I have learned over the past two years. It is a lesson that I am still learning now – the lesson that led me to my current mantra. Do what you can with what you have. When you take a step back and look at all that you already have and take the opportunity to meaningfully compare it with what you had before, you can begin to feel a measure of gratitude, acceptance and faith.
Love is cute, is it not? When my husband and I got married we were the absolute epitome of old-fashioned love. My wife won’t have to lift a finger if she doesn’t want to! I’ll be the perfect housewife and make him breakfast daily! Well, love like that was easy in the 50’s but when your School Teacher husband finds out that the school district he works for is on a pay raise freeze and you, the well-meaning housewife becomes too sick to even dust a rolling pin, it kind of knocks you back into reality. And when reality hits, gratitude goes right out of the window. And when you’re no longer grateful for the life you have, you start to realize what it is lacking. After that, you begin to want what you don’t have so badly that it becomes damaging to your soul. A pit develops so deeply in you that it is hard to recognize that it’s there. If you’re not conscious of this pit, you start to confuse vanity for actual need. Ask me how I know?
Everyone that knows me, knows that I want children. I want them more than I have ever wanted anything. Many of you know, that on my journey to parenthood, I lost two children. That, no doubt, made me absolutely angry. I mean, shouldn’t it? I apologize if this is a bit crude but one of those children sits in tiny a box in my living room in the form of ashes. That’s not fair and when I would think about it, it made me hate the world. And I pined (I would be lying if I said I still don’t) for living children. And that pit that formed inside of me wanted to replace that pain with living children. “I want to be a mother.”
Wait. I could only mourn the loss of two children as much as I did if I were their mother. I am a mother. I can tell people when they ask, that I am a mother. Those two little angels made ME a mother. And the realization of that began to fill that growing void. What I went through and continue to go through is extremely hard, no doubt, but if I can’t be grateful for the pleasure of even knowing that those two souls existed as part of my life experiences for a reason, then they died in vain. I am beyond grateful to be their mother and that gratitude turned into strength and resilience. Strength and resilience led me to acceptance.
Remember that really cute love that convinced us that my husband was going to be the provider and I was going to be the dutiful housewife? Now, remember the painful life experiences that knocked us on our tushies? And remember the void that those life moments dug deep inside of us? Well, gratitude is strong but only makes a strong foundation for that void. It’s keeping us together but just until we can come to accept the circumstances that we are in. I kid you not, I had to laugh at myself for a moment. My husband hates his job. I hate his job. He comes home cranky and tired. I struggle to cope with the knowledge that I am useless to help his situation. My void
wants needs more. I need more yarn so that I can keep myself busy. If we’re not going to get the kids that we want, I want to travel with the time that we have. But there is a pay freeze and we decided that I wasn’t going to work. But I couldn’t work if I wanted to because I’m so sick. So, my husband must work harder, and he wants to quit. Our house could be nicer. Maybe if we fix it up, we would both be satisfied with not traveling. Nope, I still want to see Ireland. Why don’t we have kids yet? Why don’t I have what I want?!
Am I starving? No. Am I living on the streets of Philadelphia? No. Do I have a shirt on my back? Yes. Do you have someone who loves you immeasurably? Without a doubt. Are they supportive of your wants and needs? Yes. Have they been by your side through all the hard times? Absolutely. Then you have everything that you need.
In high school, I was 15 and I lived in a small room in a shelter with my mother and siblings in Brooklyn, New York. I was hungry, I rotated the same 4 pair of jeans I owned until they fell apart. I felt alone and uncared for. Because of my hard work and my husband, I am none of that now. We own our house. We can’t afford to go out on fancy dates, but we buy that expensive cut of meat every once in a while. And guess what? We wiped each other’s tears when we were in the hospital room both times we lost our children. I am blessed beyond measure to have with I have. I didn’t have these things before. Suddenly, I don’t need so much anymore. I had to accept that life was better. I had to accept that this is what life was like because we had made the choice together to stand firm on that old-fashioned love. With that acceptance, I was able to have faith that things would get better for us.
Before I get into the faith portion of this novel, I must be honest and say that I am still working on this part of my life. That is fine! All of these are going to take time depending on the size pit that you have to fill. I can’t speak for my husband (I can but I won’t because that is his story to tell) but my pit is nearly full. Okay, it doesn’t take very much to empty that pit, but my recovery is much faster these days! And, because we are a team, the size of his pit can weigh me down sometimes. When you have gratitude and acceptance though, it becomes easier to stay on track. Being grateful for what I have and accepting that this is what life is like for us right now, leaves all kind of room for faith.
Would I like to have more children? Yes, but I’m still young and we’re still madly in love. We will get there. Faith! Do I still want to go to Ireland someday? Yes, but I have a home here that I’ve built with my husband. We’re still trying to figure out this old-fashioned love and make babies so, Ireland will be someday. Faith! Do I want more yarn? Always. Okay, the want for more yarn will probably never change but will I use the yarn that I have until we can afford to buy more? Yes, because my husband so lovingly provides what he can for us and I appreciate that oh so much. Faith.
These are the things I have been given! This is the life that I have right now! If I don’t cherish it and do what I can with what I have right now, then life wouldn’t be full. I don’t know about you, but I want to be able to look back and say that life was more full than it was busy. Full and meaningful you will remember. Full and meaningful, you can tell stories about. Stories of gratitude and acceptance; true tales of unwavering faith. Busyness, you’ll remember but always regret. I’m not telling you that you can’t want “stuff”. I’m asking you to evaluate if you want those items to feed a never-ending hunger. If they’re just sustaining the pit or if you are truly grateful for what you have. That you have accepted every part of life and that you have real faith that you will be provided for.