“A Grace” by G.K. Chesterton
You say grace before meals.
But I say grace before the concert and the opera,
And grace before the play and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing,
And grace before I dip the pen in the ink.
Let’s take a moment to talk about gratitude and graciousness. Gratitude is a noun. A quality. A feeling of being thankful. Gracious an adjective and graciously an adverb, the action of responding in a way demonstrating kindness and courtesy.
Take that root word grace and swirl it into whatever part of speech you like, and I’ll tell you we’re running on low supply of it around here.
Instead, we have a case of what I like to call The Birthday Gimmies. Only to be closely followed by The Mama Grumpies.
Our smart, articulate, beautiful oldest turned five this week while our humorous, wild, and cuddly son hit three.
Although we didn’t have a big birthday party bash this year, we spent the day at the flower fields together, had a special dinner out, and a rowdy time at Chuck-E-Cheese. The entire week felt special as we did a few things out of the ordinary and splurged in a few ways.
Until I was that mom in the middle of the shampoo aisle forcing the words, “I WILL take back all your presents if you do not stop whining about wanting every single thing you see,” back down my throat before they could escape like a flame of dragon breath.
An hour later my ordinarily content, playful children were having a sit-in on the sun-scorched concrete in front of the Coldstone doors. Screaming with “how could you” eyes at the disbelief I wouldn’t immediately give them a LoveIt sized creamery creation. Clearly the case of the birthday gimmies had hit a crescendo and it was time to head home for possibly permanent naptime.
I’ve been thinking about gratitude and the state of enough this week. About how to teach my children to recognize a need versus a want. Giving generously and receiving graciously. I am convinced that gimmies can not be satiated. Teaching kids how to be gracious feels like battling a hydra. As soon as you whack one head of the gimmies off, three more grow back in it’s place. The only real way for my kiddos to internalize these values and in turn respond with grace/gratitude/graciousness is to show them. To live it. And that hurts deep. Because that means I have to grow in gratitude myself. When I get angry because my daughter rolls her eyes, I have to remember she learned that most likely from me. When I start a new scheme to buy the perfect sectional I have to remember to be thankful for the couch we already have.
Enough is a state of heart. My job is to demonstrate it through the daily practice of gratitude. And to keep my cool when the gimmie monsters charge in without warning.
For today I will forgive the icecream shop scene and be reminded that sometimes gratitude looks like sparkling eyes, a surprised open-mouthed smile, and an expression that shows you are genuinely happy for someone else. Even a little brother who managed to barge in and share the birthday date.