Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thankless Thanksgiving? Maybe, Maybe Not

So I thought of this great post in church the other morning.  I actually sent Husband outside with the kiddies so I could write some notes after Mass.  With Youngest screaming "but I wanna be wif mommeeee" the whole way out.  For being the most independent little cuss I've ever seen, that kid sure does "wanna be wif mommeeeee" quite a bit.  And I love it, most of the time. 

But not when I'm takin' notes, people!

I need to thank Parenting, the School Years for helping bring this post to fruition.  I'd been wondering how to write it without seeming ultra-ungrateful for my life, here on Thanksgiving Day of all times, and one little sentence in one little article did it for me.  Phew.  Conscience cleared.  Here.  We.  Go.

Missy's Dilemma.

I get frustrated with these holidays - the "most wonderful time of the year."  It's stressful.  I want to savor the real reasons for the holidays.  I've gained that desire as I've had children and look at all of the commercialism and JUNK our children are exposed to, no, targeted, by companies trying to sell "them" on things (when it's actually make them rabid about needing something so that Mom and Dad will waste spend the money on something that's going to last for a day).  And it starts before with Thanksgiving.

I want my children to learn, exhibit, experience, LIVE things like gratitude, gratefulness, graciousness. 

I don't want them acting like the little beasts that children can always be during the holidays sometimes be. 

Guess what my kids want during the holidays?  None of that "stuff" that MOM wants, that's for sure!  First and foremost, they want their normal routine back, thank you very much.  They don't know that, but that is truly what they need - their normal routine that doesn't include a crazy, stressed Mommy trying to do everything, be everything for everyone.  They want to not be dragged around on holiday shopping errands.  They're kids, they're not meant for that kind of activity. 

At Thanksgiving, they don't want YUCKO stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberries.  They want PB & J and are virtually sickened by the options given to them on this most EAT-FULL of all holidays .  Are all kids this way or just mine?  I certainly remember not "liking" Thanksgiving food until high school at least.  I do remember loving the hustle and bustle of watching my Mom prepare the house and do the cooking, making everything "just so."  But I do understand the fact that my kids aren't interested in the food (their "selective eating" is something I take full responsibility for, BTW, something I will discuss in a Super Sunday Series Post sometime soon).

But let's get to what they think they want, not just what Mommy knows they need.  What do they THINK they want?  Treats!  No school!  Goodies!  Presents!  Catalogs in the mail!  Sugar!  Toys!  No naps!  PRESENTS!  Have I missed anything here?  Let me know if I have. 

So not only do we have this change in the routine (and all kids need routine consistency, but gifted kids REALLY need routine consistency - REALLY, REALLY need it - at least mine do), but we have this terrible dichotomy that gets created between ME and THEM.  I want to give thanks for our many blessings and celebrate this entire holiday season in a reflective way that says "we are so blessed."

And they turn into seemingly thankless creatures who get pulled into the vortex of "all things goody" instead of "all things good." 

I get embarassed by reactions to presents and overwrought kids because they just can't handle all of the new, heightened activities and expectations.   It makes me M-A-D at them for acting like, well, children.  And I get mad at myself for getting mad at them!  It makes me feel like a failure as a mother for not being able to instill gratitude and unselfishness in my children.

Enter Parenting the School Years December Issue with one little ol' article titled "Raising Grateful Kids."

Missy's Solution. 

Here is the quote, thank you SO much Patty Onderko, for this article:
Vicki Hoefle, director of Parenting on Track, a parent-education program based in East Middlebury, VT (and the mother of five teenagers), concurs:  "As nice as it is to think about having a five-year-old who appreciates and shows gratitude for everything, the truth is, parents can feel successful if they raise a thirty-five year old who embodies that grateful spirit."

You know, it seems so simple, when you read that sentence.  Every positive step we take right now, no matter how unheard it may seem, has an impact on their future, their adulthood. 

I am so thankful for this quote coming at just the right time of year for me.  Yesterday the kids were, off and on, thankless, bickering . . . children.  And their inability to shift expectations with the looming holiday season made me feel  . . . frustrated. 

But instilling values in our children, it's a parent's life work, and it can be an incremental 2 steps forward, 1 step backward process.  It doesn't happen because we snap our fingers and want it to happen.  Delayed gratification doesn't work that way.

We all love our children so much.  The trick, the challenge, is loving them enough to make the tough choices throughout their lives to help them be better kids, and more importantly, better adults. 

As far as OUR holiday rituals - we give them presents, we always do!  But we will also focus on the things better than presents - family, quality time, charity, gift giving

Tune in Saturday.  I'll share MY letter to Santa this year.  We all want a little sumthin' in this life, right?  Not just the kiddies.  :)

Happy Thanksgiving!
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