31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 8: Choose Contentment

sarah 2006One of the best things about being a blogger is being able to go back several years and read with a degree of amused detachment what my life was like … oh, about seven years ago.

School starts up again next week, and not a moment too soon. Take today, for instance. I spent the morning with Sarah, scrubbing toothpaste off the carpet and walls (don’t ask). Shortly after lunch, I was loading the dishwasher when a commotion started in the bathroom. Someone had decided to see how far a glass of water would spread on the bathroom floor. To make the game a little more fun, they added a liberal dash of red food coloring to the cup. Then they frantically emptied the dryer (whites, of course) to cover up the mess.

Long story short, everything we own is now pink.

Clearly, the kids needed a little physical activity, so we went outside for a quick dip in the pool. Sarah began to shiver, so when they were both safely out of the pool I ran to get a large towel … and stepped on an inch-long piece of glass. Someone had dropped my candy thermometer, and decided not to tell me about it. I lifted the offended foot to assess the damage … and promptly injured the other foot on another shard.

That did it. After bleeding all over the house on my way to find a suitable bandage, I picked up the phone and called my darling husband, the one person in the world I can always count on for kindness and concern. His response to my request that he come home ASAP? “Gee, honey. Urgent care is a bit expensive … do you think you can hold out until tomorrow, and see your regular doctor for the tetanus shot?”

Yes, folks, I’m ready to turn in my “Mom” badge.

Okay, Heidi. Breathe. That’s what I want to tell the old me. Just wait … you will have bigger messes to clean up, and if you lose your sense of humor now, you won’t have it when you really need it. Now, go bandage up your foot and make another dino jungle on “Painter” with your artistically inclined five-year-old. You’ll be glad you did.

In one of my all-time favorite books, Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone Days, the author observes, “Some luck lies not in getting what you thought you wanted, but in wanting what you have. Which, if you are smart enough, you will discover it is what you would have wanted all along, if you had only known.”

Contentment is the half-sibling of her cheery sister thankfulness. On the bleakest days, when “thankful” is too much to muster, “contentment” can be more manageable — in any circumstances. Hands open, rather than clenched.

Try this little exercise the next time you feel you’re losing equilibrium — such as when your little darling dumps the red sock in the whites. Gently place your hands on his face, cupping his cheeks in your hands (again, gently), and say quietly, “It won’t always be like this. What are you trying to teach me here, God? I choose in this moment to look for you.”

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A Case for Contentment

Today I came across this thoughtful post, written by an emergency room nurse and mother who reflects on what it is like to tell a mother her child has died. And to witness that mother thank the medical staff for their efforts to save her child.

I needed to read this today. I don’t know about you, but there are days when I manage to hit Grumpy Button as I stumble out of bed, and the whole world is shaded with this yucky shade of puce. My scalp twitches, so out-of-sorts am I.

Why?  No reason, really. My children are healthy, as evidenced by the romping, stomping pillow fight to which I was awakened at the crack of dawn this morning.

My husband rested well last night, as evidenced by the fact that he was in bed next to me when the pillow fight ensued.

We have a lovely home, my husband is gainfully employed, and none of us have been hospitalized or lost our livelihoods to a massive earthquake (say a little prayer with me for the people of Haiti, especially all those children who lost their parents).

My friend Roxy is out of the hospital, officially in remission.  My friend Robin had her operation yesterday, and will be feeling better soon. My friend Sarah’s daughter was diagnosed with epilepsy recently, and I hate not being close enough to do anything more than pray. (Although praying is, indeed, hard work when you do it right.)

Best of all, this weekend we are going to celebrate Sarah’s birthday at the Kalahari Water Park. All four of us. Together. Having fun.

Wouldn’t you say this is an ample case for contentment, and I should send Grumpy Buttons back to bed until she can change her attitude?

God of Mercy, Father of Everything Good,
You are our Life in the face of death.
You are our Gift when we feel bereft.
You are our Family when we feel alone.
Give me today the gift of contentment.
Help me to appreciate your many gifts … no matter how puzzling the wrapping.