Family, Work

Can someone adopt my family?

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That doesn’t include today.

It’s been exactly a year since I hesitantly posted my thoughts online.  I remembered returning to my privacy settings to make sure people WOULD NOT find me.  I had deliberated, off and on, the entire day before I allowed my index finger, hovering over the PUBLISH button, to depress my mouse.  When the hubs suggested I journal online (to relieve him of listening to me for hours in the eve ranting after putting the boys to bed) I don’t think he realized how he has affirmed me.  A happy wife makes a happy life.  It now allows him to open his nothing box and to read my thoughts when he chooses.  Not the ideal communicating situation (face-to-face contact is still the best but since we share a bed I guess this allows him to do other things).  Like SNUGGLE, thank you very much.   In silence. (grin)

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Katy Perry’s song Roar is playing in the shop amongst the hiss of the pointing machine and drip, drip of rain through the open bay door.  The hubs, during a summer from college, aged 19, had manufactured this contraption to create points on steel.  He’s proud of that machine.  The Porsche studs emerge…high quality parts for high quality vehicles.  BIG LOL.  Meanwhile the hubs is creating sparks amidst the dreary, rainy day.

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When precipitation comes to our neck-of-the-woods people do NOT know how to drive.  Traffic crawled for the short freeway commute I make to work.  But alas!  Today the NOTW black SUV again barreled through school traffic as I stopped my vehicle, grabbed my phone off the dash and snapped a shot of his daughter.  I am hoping my dear friend, who works at the middle school, will recognize this girl.  Amidst the drizzle the SUV appeared from nowhere as the serpentine line of cars waited to drop their middle schoolers off in the rain.  The bell was about to ring and, once again, this annoying driver broke the rules; almost causing another car exiting our elementary school parking lot to hit him.  I wished I had thought to video this driver on my smartphone.  I’ll be ready next time.  I continue to be vigilant and collect evidence before I visit my local sheriff’s station.  Hear ME roar!!!    I’m a mama bear trying to protect all our little cubs, darn it!

After the idiotic adrenaline rush of playing detective; which my lawyer friend requests to be careful lest a restraining order be considered for stalking an unfit driver, I sift through all the random thoughts in my head.   At work, between invoicing, I find myself on Pinterest perusing holiday ideas.  The consumer in me zealously looks at all of the pretty pictures trying to sell me perfection.  I pin pictures and sites to my board thinking, I too, can create this holiday nirvana.  If my Thanksgiving table looks as beautiful as this all the memories created will be happy and blissful.  If only I create these Christmas vignettes within my home I will be blessed with instant beauty and happiness throughout the land.

I really struggle with this. 

Amidst the pinninpinterestg of all things materialistic and magical I had to put myself in check.  The adopted families my boys’ classrooms have chosen to provide gifts for, the Angel Tree donations that our church provides, the canned goods drives, charitable donations….does this really make me a better person?  My kids?  I read several articles about how serving in a soup kitchen line with your children can actually be a hazard and hindrance for the organization providing this service.  How do you explain to an 8 year old why the homeless person arrived on this path.  Can the younger kids avoid splattering hot liquids or foods?  When natural disasters strike it is easy to explain why we need to give.  But I don’t want my children to only do this in the months of November and December to ease my guilty conscience while I peruse sales and gimmicky ads for my family.  What kind of example am I?

One father decided he wanted his young daughter to purchase a gift for another child; the exact same age.  He wanted her to hand the gift to the other girl, face-to-face.  But what about the other child, the recipient?  Critics ask Does the child need to be praised for doing this by a direct hand-off?  Does it make it more real for either child?  I noted that the CCD flyer that came home with my sons, yesterday, requested that the gift they give be something THEY WOULD WANT FOR THEMSELVES.  That was interesting for me to note because it makes it harder to give away.  One good deed.  DONE.  So when my children whine and gripe for the things they want, the cynic in me grits her teeth.   I need to figure out how to teach my sons to appreciate what they have.  

I happily read Cynthia Ewer’s site http://christmas.organizedhome.com/user/cynthia-ewer  (cut and paste and check it out) and saw that she, too, had read the Dad’s wishes for his daughter to directly give.  And she, Cynthia Ewer, wrote what I was thinking.  Thank you.   In past years we have adopted a family and had the option to meet the family as we gave our gifts.  I opted not to do this; preferring to remain anonymous.  But I also became jaded.  After the third year of doing this I was disgruntled to realize that the requests for gifts were items I wouldn’t even be able to afford my own family.   Currently, my eight year old’s class has adopted a family who has requested: a camera, a bike and a penny board (skateboard).  When I vented to the hubs the question lurked in my mind.  What do I consider worthy of being needy?  I happily would provide clothes and needed basic items like food.  But luxury items?  One year the family we adopted wanted Wii games (when they were popular) and handheld Nintendo DS items multiplied by three children.

My third grade son heard my rant which prompted him to share his list.  The hubs was outraged but calmed down by the time the actual list was verbally done.  After games, a faster computer, an XBOX One he finished with…if you can’t really afford all that, all I want is the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and Hurley pants.  When the hubs questioned about the “hurt me” pants this son explained that it matched his backpack and he likes to match.  I was incredulous.  This son has no idea how expensive this brand name can be and the hubs glared at me.  After all that, the son asked why I didn’t want to give the child, his class adopted, the requested items.

The million dollar question.  Who am I to decide what people want or need?  Isn’t this season about giving versus receiving and judging?  Wasn’t my goal for my sons, our family, to learn to give generously?  Humbly?

I need to model what giving means; even when I don’t want to.  This is the reality of our messy, shades of gray life.  It is never in black and white.  The joyous, deep satisfaction of giving isn’t and shouldn’t be the reason to offer something to someone else.  The adage, charity always begins at home rang through my mind.

The next morning I handed this son the envelope with a generous monetary donation.  It went against what I really wanted to give.  But sometimes it is the sacrifice that means more than the easy button.  It pained me to hand the envelope to him but I also included canned goods to assuage my conscience for the school’s canned goods drive.  As a mother would I ask someone to do this for my kids?   I know what it’s like to be on the other side; even at this time last year. I am no money tree.  The older boys quietly listened as I answered the youngest’s query from the night before.  I hope they will remember.

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Next on my mental list:  How to make the holidays joyful versus my very, merry stressful  ideal of what I think the holidays are supposed to be.

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