Sometimes my kids are angels and sometimes they are not (I could use a more descriptive word here, but I am trying to think happy thoughts). Lately I have been thinking about my perception of people, places, things and situations. I am the beholder and I see what I most want to see.
Last week I spent some quiet time in a dressing room all by myself. Dressing rooms are not my favorite place to be. I find it discouraging that out of stack of twenty items only one or two (or maybe none) look good on my person. In the midst of trying on pants I began to tear up. Why? Because I found pants that actually fit . . . and because I suddenly felt middle-aged . . . because I had on “mom” pants. A little wave of despair swept over me. And then I stopped. And I changed what I was seeing. Instead of seeing how thin I wasn’t I saw how amazing my body is. Not by Hollywood standards, by any means. But this amazing body of mine just created a life, and then gave birth to it a few short months ago. That is a miracle. And the phenomenal change that took place inside me has every right to show itself on the outside of me, as well. As I looked in the mirror, I no longer cared about the label on my jeans or how not trendy the cut was. Instead I thought about my daughter and the journey we have already been on together. I focused on how I felt being a mother, instead of dreading looking like one. (Please tell me you know what I’m trying to say here.) I began to see what I wanted to see.
This morning, as I was dressing for church and lamenting my incredibly shrinking wardrobe (I won’t be fitting into my warm weather skirts for at least another year – must do more sit-ups – perhaps if I did any sit-ups that would help). All I could see was what I didn’t have, what wouldn’t go together. Then I mentally smacked myself around a little and thought about Haiti, and about all the people in this world who are getting ready for church this morning and do not even have a choice about what to wear because they have so little. I shut my whining mouth and looked at all my beautiful shoes and skirts and tops that still fit (even if they are almost all black – and it’s summer), and I began to count my blessings.
I often complain about my kitchen. It seems microscopic to the one I had in my old house (oh, how I miss my skylights). But the other day I got a picture from my cousin who is in El Salvador of a woman cooking in her “kitchen”. I wanted to cry for shame. This woman had a dirt floor corner of her teeny house with a shelf and a very old, ugly stove. That was the whole of her kitchen. Sean, who spent some time in El Salvador several years ago, was surprised to see the stove. “She’s lucky,” he said, “most people just have a hot plate that they cook on.”
I am constantly amazed at my perceptions of my children. When I make a conscious effort to see the good, I think they are amazing, brilliant, caring, loving, independent, righteous, wonderful little people. When my eye takes on a darker caste I see fighting and hear angry words and can’t seem to comprehend why they cannot follow simple instructions (really, how hard is it to brush your teeth?).
There is beauty to be found in everyone if we are willing to open up our eyes and look for it. Every situation offers some good, some growth, something silver – even if it is only that the situation will pass. As you can see, I struggle with this. It is easier for me to be pessimistic than to exert the energy required to “find the good”. But happiness will never come from focusing on the bad. That is a one-way ticket to misery. I see what I want to see. And I’m trying to change what I want to see. What do you see?