I often wonder about this, especially when I’m mopping.
I hate mopping.
But I think about articles I’ve read (often in lifestyle magazines directed at women with the leisure time to read magazines) that claim we should take our moments of daily drudgery and use them to reflect on our lives and be grateful for all that we have. You know the mantra, I’m sure. Grateful that you have a roof over your head when you’re mopping the floors. Grateful your family has enough food while you’re doing the dishes. Grateful for your health while you’re climbing the ladder to wash the windows.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who has seen these articles and felt like a malignant toad.
Because when I’m doing dishes, I’m wondering why I’m the only one in my household who understands the physics of loading a dishwasher. When I mop, I’m wishing this was Star Trek and I had self-cleaning floors, or at least crew members who would mop up a spill while it’s still wet and easy to clean up. At the grocery store? Not grateful for my choices. Mostly appalled when I read the labels, some chagrin at the meat counter, and a constant mental mantra to buy more bananas. (Seriously, you’d think I live with a monkey troop with the amount of bananas we go through.)
I will confess that every time I sweep under my dining room table, I think of my gratitude toward Nate Crawford. Because he came to my house and helped me rip out the nasty carpet covering the hardwood floors, just because I said I needed help doing it. But laundry and dishes and sorting the recyclables? Still don’t trip my gratitude trigger.
Am I grateful to live in a country with free education? Hell, no. I’m still pissed that my school district closed the high school two blocks from my house. Yes, they can say it’s a purely financial decision. It was also a “poor” school, with a high number of at-risk students. I sure as hell am grateful that I can drive my two daughters to the school of my choice, but I worry about those students whose parents can’t or won’t be able to drive to another neighborhood.
I’m not a total ingrate. There are many things I’m grateful for. But I’m not trying to turn this into a Thanksgiving post where I list all the things in life I’m grateful for. I want to know WHEN people feel grateful. The odd times, the unprescribed times.
For me, any time I hear one of my children laugh, I’m grateful that they have a sense of humor and that they are still willing to share it with me.
When I read a piece of awesome writing by someone I know, I’m grateful that Chris Mandeville grabbed me by the arm at a writers conference and said, “Hey, could you do me a favor?” Because that’s how I got involved with Pikes Peak Writers. I continue to learn from these great people every day. I get to swap email with people like the awesometastic Chuck Wendig. My daughters got to meet Libba Bray. And I got to sit next to the handsome and charming Robert Crais at dinner one night, and I was able to pay him a sincere compliment (grateful to Mom for teaching me manners) and make him laugh.
That’s probably when I’m most grateful–when I laugh, or I’m making someone else laugh. I guess it makes me feel like we’re cramming the maximum amount of joy into the moment. Even if it’s a moment when laughter isn’t normally expected. My annual exam? Made my doctor laugh. Funerals? Yeah, I’m the one whispering the inappropriate but heartfelt condolences in your ear that will probably make you snort.
I’m also grateful for entirely selfish things. My ability to fall asleep easily. How easily? If sleeping were an Olympic sport, I’d be a gold medalist. I’m grateful for my natural hair color, because I like it. I’m grateful for my blonde eyebrows, because they can morph into hairy monstrous caterpillars and nobody can see them, thus sparing me the need to pluck.
But I’m still not grateful when I’m picking up someone else’s dirty socks, trying to get curry stains out of the microwave or picking a wad of someone’s wet hair out of the bathtub drain. And I doubt all the women’s magazines in the world will change that.
When, and for what, are you unexpectedly grateful?