Originally Posted Online: March 06, 2013, 6:00 am
Last Updated: March 08, 2013, 9:21 am
Greener pastures? She'll take her ordinary life
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By Barb Braun
Family dinners take a predictable path in our home. First, our sons, ages 10 and 12, complain about the food being served.
After realizing their objections won't magically turn the pork roast into chicken nuggets, the kids plop themselves at the table.
My husband then tries to engage our tween-agers in conversation. His typical question is, "Did you do anything exciting today?" They are familiar with this routine, resorting to grunts and replies of, "Dad, it was the same 'ol stuff. It's just school, you know!"
My husband turns his attention to me, hoping he'll get a more eloquent response. Before I reply, I do a mental playback of my day.
I started the day by sending the kids out the door for school, but not before countless reminders to brush teeth, comb hair, and tie shoes. Feeling triumphant (or exhausted) that I survived the verbal wrangling, I sat down at my desk to tackle some work projects. The hours are filled with phone calls, emails, and deadlines. I take a break about midday to do a load of laundry and pull something from the freezer in hopes of it passing as dinner. My day continues uneventfully until the boys storm through the door at the end of the school day, and my focus turns to helping with homework and mediating sibling disputes.
Wrapping up the day's movie in my head, I sigh, then say dejectedly, "No, nothing exciting happened. Just an ordinary day."
Having ended the conversation with my spouse, my defeatist attitude persisted internally.
"Poor me," I thought. "I have no Cinderella to do the laundry, make dinner, or buy groceries. If only I had this or done that, my life would be better."
My perception that the "grass is always greener" clouded my outlook for a long time. I continually compared my life to that of others, as their lives seemed filled with exciting pursuits and people. I wanted to know where I sign up to play the middle-aged woman who leads an exciting life, complete with a perfect family, distinguished career, and a house that cleans itself?
It wasn't until recently that a simple comment from a friend jolted me from my pity party. When I asked about her weekend, she replied, "Nothing exciting happened, but it was nice."
That simple statement showered me with a generous dose of perspective.
To my dear friend, a couple of quiet days were a blessing, as she is the main caregiver for her chronically ill husband, which she does with amazing selfless love and sacrifice. Added to her struggles is her own recent health scare and the threat of being laid off from her job.
I was humbled and embarrassed when reflecting on my pal's positive attitude. Why am I lamenting about the things (and yes, it's mostly material items) I don't have instead of celebrating life's blessings?
Striving for and reaching goals is an admirable feat, and I believe when we stop aspiring to better ourselves, we stop living. However, a wide spectrum exists between working for what you want and accepting the things that you can't change. And in the middle, is the realization that what you have is pretty good the way it is.
I don't lead the life of a celebrity, I've never saved someone's life, nor am I on the cusp of being discovered as the next J.K. Rowling.
But, I do have a life that's filled with supportive family, loyal friends, and fulfilling work. My home shelters me from the ravages of Midwest weather, and I can count on my car to provide reliable transportation.
Being surrounded by others going through tribulations reminds me that life can change in an instant and appreciating what you have at this moment is the best perspective to have. The grass may be greener nearby, but I'll take my ordinary life.
Barb Braun leads a contented, ordinary life in Rock Island with her family and two spoiled felines.