Verily, I am a delicate flower.
My therapist seems to think I need to spend some time journaling about my strengths and the things I like about myself. And she didn’t seem all that amused when I agreed, but asked what I would do after that. (What do you mean? she asked. Well, I said, since that’s only going to take about thirty seconds….)
It’s a funny thing. When my children are wonderful, I give thanks to God. When they’re demonic, I’m right there, ready to accept the responsibility and ample helping of guilt for being an inadequate mother. When things in my life go well, I’m lucky. When times are tough, I’m reaping what I’ve sown. Somewhere I’ve erred–I’m always sure–and so today’s hard times are the result of some indiscretion(s) on my part in days past. So I should just suck it up.
When I write it out like that, I know it’s stupid. But it’s a hard habit to break. Also, I think because some people in my life eschew responsibility so completely *coughcoughexcoughcough* I am loathe to accept events as “just happening.” I see some sort of perverse dignity in assuming culpability for even the most mundane annoyances.
Now imagine Dr. Phil drawling at me, “And how’s that working for ya?” Then please imagine me smacking him, because he needs a good smack and if I could be the one to deliver it, I could die happy.
Anyway. Yeah, it’s not really working for me. There’s got to be a more constructive way to handle my assessment of life, one that will lead to a happier me. And I don’t know that it starts with figuring out what’s positive about my life and myself, but stay tuned for a future Mir-themed lovefest. It promises to be a really riveting thirty seconds, I promise.
However, today is not that day. Today, as I was driving home from my appointment, wondering if I was really up to the task of trying to loooooove myself and all that sort of stuff, I began to wonder if I could even cope with a marginal level of self-esteem, so foreign would it be to all that I’m accustomed to. Right before my brain popped a gasket, my cell phone rang. It was a friend, wanting to go shopping.
You don’t have to love yourself to go shopping. Sweet relief. Hey! Know what I like about myself? I like when I find signs that say CLEARANCE. Also? I like when I buy things for other–more worthy–people.
The kids and I have begun accumulating our supplies for our shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. My favorite part of Christmas is doing the shoe boxes; bar none. We pick out the largest shoe boxes we can find (because it has to be a shoe box, but big ones are okay) and then cram every single corner full of stuff. These boxes go to disadvantaged kids all over the world and are, in most cases, the only Christmas presents they receive. Chickadee packs a box for a girl and Monkey packs a box for a boy. And they love it. And I imagine that the children who receive our boxes truly appreciate what we’ve done, unlike my spoiled rotten overprivileged American children who have too much crap already. Furthermore, I imagine my children are learning something about generosity and compassion (and I rather enjoy this fantasy so if you disagree, hush up).
There are “recommended” lists for what to pack. Please include basic hygiene items, they ask. Also school supplies, for the older children. Small toys and non-perishable candy are good choices. I will take the kids to the dollar store and have them pick out some items, and there are certain things (like bars of soap) that I just have lying around. And then there are the things where I say to myself, Self, if I were a child in a third-world country, what would I really need?
And on days like today, I answer: Self, if I were a child in a third-world country, what I would really need would be a Pez Jungle Mission Survival Kit Candy Dispenser. Children everywhere deserve a safe place to live, clean water to drink, nutritious food to eat… and Pez. I just believe Pez to be a basic, inalienable right. All the better if your Pez happens to come in a combination flashlight/magnifying glass/compass/clip/ruler/dispenser. And better yet when I find these beauties on clearance. Ah, the joys of democracy.
Of course I got packs of Pez refills, too, because you can’t have your Jungle Mission Survival Kit running out of candy. And then I went looking for toothpaste and toothbrushes, and found toothbrushes that giggle when you shake them. Really. Suddenly a heartwarming scene flashed in my mind… children opening their shoeboxes, oohing and aahing over the contents, and then… being terrified of the enclosed, cackling toothbrush. Hmmm. Well, they’ll get over it. I bought two of them. And bubblegum flavored toothpaste, which I refuse to purchase for my own children. Because I am mean. Unless you are a disadvantaged child, in which case, I will buy you all manner of things.
That lifted my spirits considerably.