VEEDER: Lucky to have the chance to be ungrateful
Last weekend on the way to meet my husband’s family to celebrate his grandmother’s 87th birthday, I had one of those moments where I broke everything down that wasn’t working in my life. Something my husband said set me off and I took it as an opportunity to let the steam out of the frustration kettle that had been boiling for a couple weeks.
I hit what I assume are the same points most of us make after the end of a long week spent balancing on the thin shaky beam we call American life. I worried out loud about getting my work done while staying at home and caring for a now fully mobile baby who spends her day trying her hardest to bonk her head or choke on everything in this house. I stated it was nearly impossible and wondered if maybe it was time to look into a day care once or twice a week.
Then I worried about making enough money to make it worth it and moved that into my frustration about unfinished projects.
And by the way, the house is never clean and how am I going to keep cockleburs out of the baby’s mouth if they keep coming in on the bottoms of our jeans?
Seriously? Is there anyone else in the world who has to worry about their baby eating cockleburs in the house?!
And it just went on from there while the baby slept in the car seat behind me and my patient, but probably pretty annoyed, husband tried to offer solutions I wasn’t in the mood to hear like men tend to do with women during meltdowns like these.
Please tell me other women have meltdowns like these.
I threw those words at the windshield and we rolled down Highway 85 on a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning, the leaves turning gold on the trees, sparkling against a blue sky. By the time we got to where we were going the radio was a bit louder and conversation had turned to the new funny laugh that Edie was trying out lately and what we needed to pick up while we were in the big town.
We spent the day watching Edie get passed around from cousin to aunt to gramma to uncle. We strolled through the zoo and heard her use her new scruffy laugh while watching the otters swim. We swatted away hornets and took some family pictures and ate three different types of cake, gave hugs and drove home toward the setting sun, not a trace of residue on the windows from my morning words.
Earlier that week I stood over our kitchen counter. It was scattered with Tupperware containers, unopened mail, sunglasses and probably a spare tool or two. I had a knife in one hand and a fork in the other and as I sliced into the big juicy steak we pulled from a freezer packed with meat we just picked up from the butcher, I was overcome with this unexpected wave of complete gratefulness, so much so that I had to stop and say it out loud.
“We are so lucky that this is our meal. On a regular Tuesday night,” I said to my husband sitting in front of his plate full of vegetables from the garden and his steak grilled to perfection. “There are people in this world who’ve never tasted a fresh garden tomato.”
Thing is, I didn’t think about that Tuesday night steak on my Saturday morning rant. It was long dissolved into my uncertainties of the week, crumpled into wondering if we were doing anything right.
And I’m sitting here this morning sort of worried about how quickly the taste left my mouth.
Just over a year ago I was holding my breath for a baby to come in and throw my schedule into chaos, just like she’s doing, just like I was complaining about on Saturday morning.
And now here she is, staring up at me from the living room rug while she’s pooping her pants. And I am grateful.
I’m lucky to be grateful. But maybe sometimes, and I’ve never thought of this before, we’re even more lucky to have the chance to be ungrateful.Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughter on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at email@example.com.