Friday, August 20, 2010
Last Tuesday, the UPS man left a big box on our front porch.
How exiting, I thought, tearing it open. I hadn't ordered anything.
It was a suitcase. Who had sent us a brand new suitcase? Why?
I opened the envelope tucked in the front and read the title.
Million Miler? According to the note, my husband had logged over a million miles on Delta, so the airline was rewarding him with a suitcase and a card.
"Where's my gift?" I harrumphed. "I'm the one who deserves the present."
For over twenty years of parenthood, Todd has worked for Michelin. It's an international company, and most positions required him to travel. A lot of travel. Over a million miles, apparently.
That's a lot of dinners out, while I'm home making macaroni and cheese.
A lot of quiet evenings in the hotel, while I was changing diapers, staying up with sick kids, refereeing arguments. That's a lot of solo homework duty, of managing the drama of adolescent friendships, of navigating the fears and tears, not to mention all the household drudgery he's missed.
Where's my present, Delta?
As I dragged the suitcase through the kitchen, a memory popped into my head.
It was a Saturday night and Todd had just come home from another trip overseas. We had gone through our family ritual of opening his carry-on bag, pulling out the sack of pastries he'd bought at the airport 19 hours ago, the magazines for Sarah and me, the candy for Ben and Sam. We sat down at the table to eat dinner together, to celebrate Todd's homecoming, after a week and a half away.
As we passed the food around, Ben spoke up.
"Evan's dad asked where you were at soccer, and I said you were on a trip again. He said that he just couldn't do it. If he had your job, he'd have to quit, cause he loves his kids too much to have to travel with work."
Todd's face fell. I could see the pain in his eyes as the comment hung in the air.
"What a thing for him to say" I barked.
"Yeah," said Sarah. "Daddy loves us every bit as much as Mr. Johnson loves his kids. Probably more!"
"I know!" Ben said. "I didn't say anything, but I wanted to tell him that it's just how Daddy's job is. He can't help it that he has to be gone sometimes."
The memory dissolved, and I looked at the suitcase.
I'm sorry, Todd.
My flurry of resentment and envy hijacked my brain, blocking the view of the beauty in my own life. Of all that I've been lucky enough to experience. The closeness we both have with our children. The treasure of being present in so many everyday moments.
The resentment and envy felt familiar.
It reminded me of the mommy wars, the judging words I've heard fly between moms "who work" and those who stay home. I've participated in that too, from both sides at different times.
I've heard women say, "I just love my kids too much to let somebody else raise them," and I've nodded along.
What loaded words.
When I was back at work full time, waving goodbye to my 4 and 6 year old, the same words wounded me.
I'd insist on helping my four year old get dressed, even though he could dress himself, just for an excuse to touch his little body, to smooth his hair, to straighten his shirt. I didn't love him any less than anyone else. I needed to work. I wanted to work.
Yet, at times, the envy and resentment I felt towards others blocked the view of the beauty of my own life.
God, help me battle envy and resentment. Give me the strength to resist the attraction to negativity, to turn my focus to the beauty you have given me in my present circumstances. Help me, once again, keep my eyes on my own paper, Lord. Help me remember to live in my blessings--and to celebrate them!
Are any of you wise or sensible? Then show it by living right and by being humble and wise in everything you do. But if your heart is full of bitter jealousy and selfishness, don't brag or lie to cover up the truth. That kind of wisdom doesn't come from above. It is earthly and selfish and comes from the devil himself. Whenever people are jealous or selfish, they cause trouble and do all sorts of cruel things. But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere. When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice.
What about you?
Do you ever battle resentment? Do you long to live where the grass is greener? What helps you in your struggles?
Have a wonder-full weekend, y'all!
Photo by Robert S. Donovan, creative commons