When Christine announced that the theme for this month would be “Gratitude,” I thought, “Well, crap, now I have to come up with TWO posts on this.” I have a difficult time with the “feeling” of gratitude. Intellectually, I know when I ought to feel it and express it, so I do, but I don’t always feel it. I can use up this entire post listing all the things for which I should feel gratitude, but really it’s more like a feeling of, “Whew! Sure glad I’m not in a worse situation.” Does that count? It isn’t that I have never felt warmth from being grateful for something someone did for me. I have! One example I can think of is when a friend of mine helped me with my twins when they were toddlers and I was a single mom.
On the other hand, while I was pregnant with my twins and going through a divorce so that my soon to be ex-husband could marry the woman he thought he was in love with, My grandparents offered to take me in when the doctor told me I had to quit work during the last three months of my pregnancy, and no one else was offering to take me in. I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to ask anyone if they could help me out. I thanked them profusely, though at the time, I didn’t feel that warm feeling of gratitude. I figured it would come over time. When I got there, it was requested that I keep my room clean, keep the main bathroom clean, and prepare a meal once a week. I thought this was totally fine. I wasn’t supposed to be doing too much, but this was basically just cleaning up after myself and making one meal out of the 21 meals per week. After the twins were born and were a few months old, my grandma expressed her irritation that I wasn’t doing more around in the way of housework. Personally, I felt it was almost all I could do to just take care of the twins, considering the fact that they refused to have a synchronized sleep schedule, but I was willing to try.
Grandma: I just wish you’d pitch in more around here.
Me: Okay. What did you have in mind?
Grandma: I wish you’d pitch in more with housework.
Me: Okay…what would you like me to do?
Grandma: Just pitch in. If you see something that needs to be done, do it.
Me: can you be more specific?
Grandma: Like if you see that vacuuming needs to be done, or dusting.
Me: Okay. I’m not always good at noticing if something needs to be done, but if you gave me a list of chores you’d like me to do, and how you would like them done, I’d be glad to help.
Grandma (getting agitated): I don’t want to have to give you a ist! Why can’t you just pitch in when you see there is a need?
Me: For one thing, the whole time I’ve been living here, I haven’t noticed anything needing attention so if I’ve been missing something, then you can see how bad I am at just noticing what needs to get done.
Grandma: Well, how did you do it in you own house?
Me: That was different. It was my house so I know what hadn’t been done yet. I don’t know what routines you already have set up.
It went on like this for a while. Bottom line was, I came out of it willing to do more, but thinking she expected me to be psychic. I think she came out of it thinking I was trying to get out of helping.
More than twenty years later, I look at the whole experience as more of a tribulation with a sprinkling of tiny blessings in there…somewhere…. I still can’t feel emotionally grateful, though logically, I know I should. I tend to feel more grateful to God or the Universe for providing a temporary refuge that kept my children safe and healthy. I know my grandparents were looking for a much larger display of gratitude than the verbal “thank you” (to be clear, I said more than just the words, “thank you,” I just wasn’t effusive) they got when I moved, but I just couldn’t lie.
Looking at the schedule, my next post will be on Black Friday! Perhaps the title will be, “It Could Be Worse…?”