November 23, 2011

Lessons on thanksgiving from a pile of laundry

At the end of the day I was exhausted. I spent the morning teaching my two kids. I spent the afternoon grading papers and answering e-mails and phone calls for my online job. In the evening I made dinner for company, did the dishes afterwards and started some laundry. It had been a full day and later that night, as I was lugging a load of laundry to the den to start folding, my internal dialogue began to unravel.

The kids are loud and messy. The house cannot stay clean. The laundry is never-ending. The dog sheds all year long. The husband can be inconsiderate. I have to work part time to stay home full-time. And after I teach the kids all morning, work at my job all afternoon, make and clean up dinner, I still have laundry to fold. The day is long and full of fires to squelch and by the time I get to bed each night I am exhausted.

Grumbling and complaining under my breath I began to fold the freshly washed clothing,  taking each piece out roughly. As I folded a little skirt my mind went back to the pain of infertility and the emptiness in my heart when I first learned we would not be able to conceive naturally. The little flowery dress reminded me of the wonder of a Friday five years ago when a tiny girl was placed in my arms by the social worker. A small pirate shirt brings me back to the night, a year and a half later, when the phone rang and we were told we had a son.

And as I folded these tiny items I began to smile.

I got to the big button down, collared shirts that I never iron and the polo shirts of every available color he owns and I remembered the coldest day of that December when I vowed to love him forever before many of our friends. I pondered how there is no such thing as a prince charming and that I don’t believe in soul mates, but how often I think if there ever was one absolutely perfect for me it would be him.

And I folded more gently.

I went back over the day I had just had. I remembered Isabel’s excitement at the new book she was able to read and Noah’s smile when I handed him his very first school book. I thought about the paycheck I get for such a stress-free job that keeps us from having to worry month to month. And I remembered the delicious dinner, the good conversation with a dear friend, and the gentle man who spent the evening bathing and putting the kids to bed so I could have a few moments of quiet in the kitchen, even if washing dishes.

What in the world do I have to complain about?

I stopped for a moment and considered this question. All the things I think I have a right to complain about are the very things the Lord has given me to be thankful for. I had forgotten what it would mean not to have those small, seemingly annoying daily frustrations: being alone, single, childless, jobless, friendless. Because relationships are messy and to have the rewards you also have to deal with the irritations and extra work they can bring.

But mostly what I forgot is that they are reciprocal. 

I can be difficult, unlovable, prone to temper. Beyond being thankful for the people God has placed in my life, I want to remember to be thankful that they want me in theirs, for I know many a day I have given them plenty of reasons to grumble.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear blog-friends!


Christy said...

Once again, you speak to my heart, friend. Thank you for these reminders.

KimB said...

Thank you for this beautiful post.

Randall and Rachel Beita said...

So needed to read this. Thanks.

Debbie said...

Beautiful Gaby! I have had similar conversations, but I've never had the laundry teach me such a perfect lesson. I love this post.

Gaby said...

Thank you, KimB and Debbie.

Rachel! You found me! Yeay.

Jennifer said...

Well, you know I can relate! Your perspective is beautiful, one I'm trying to adopt myself.

Kathleen T. Jaeger said...

What a great reminder of all the things to be thankful for!!

Robin Kramer said...

I needed this post today. I, too, work from home and often feel pulled in so many directions, drawn so thin that I feel like I'm disappearing into to-do lists and never-ending tasks.

This is such a great reminder. My life is so busy because it's so full. "Full" is a blessing, and I never want to forget that!

Amy Sullivan said...

Difficult and prone to temper? Um, yes. Me.

The point you make about being thankful that people want me in their lives is a good one. I'm usually too busy finding flaws of others to notice my own.