Guest Author - Cynthia Parker
I believe we all have days when it is difficult to dwell on the things for which we are thankful. At this moment in time, my oldest daughter lives 400 miles away from me and she does not have a phone, so we are not often in contact. This is difficult for me. My youngest daughter is only about 100 miles away, at college, and doing very well, but I still miss her. My car, which has been a wonderful car for 14 years and over 200,000 miles, has finally rolled its last mile. The transmission gave out and it has too many other problems to justify replacing it. I am looking for another car – a used one that runs well – but am finding that it is difficult to find someone to trust and the current economic situations leave most lenders wary. As of this moment, I have not taken to the public transportation system yet, though I have researched the possibility. The roommate I have taken in to help pay the bills while I also pay for college is often generous with offers of a ride to work when it does not conflict with her own work schedule. There is also a good friend at work who is willing to give me a ride to work or home when she is not car-pooling with her mother. Every paycheck feels like it is ear-marked for distribution before it ever reaches my bank – and, in truth, it is. If I dwell on any of these things for too long, I could become depressed and if I take then all as a whole, I might become despondent! But that is not my way.
I am sure there are many of you who are in the same or worse situation than I. When people tell us to count our blessings, it sometimes sounds trite and unrealistic. “They must be doing better than I or they would never say such a foolish thing in the face of my adversity!” Yet is that not exactly what can provide us with the inspiration to move forward?
A re-analysis of my situation reveals the following: My daughter is doing well, 400 miles away from me, and has abandoned the lacksidaisical attitude of the past year to work hard at a new job and begin re-building her life. Had she remained closer to home, I would have been very tempted to keep my hands on her life, advising her constantly and not allowing her to learn her own lessons. Sometimes we do not need to rescue our children, but rather need to allow them to learn how to rescue themselves. I am an over-protective mother because of my deep love for her, but allowing her to learn on her own took more love than I felt I could sacrifice. Real love sometimes requires pain. This way we have both learned valuable lesson and our relationship has strengthened. I miss her dreadfully and I sometimes feel the deep pain of a certain loss, but with that pain comes the joy of reconnection and I am grateful for understanding the difference.
My youngest daughter has always been an over-achiever. She understood that she was going to have to work hard to have the necessary grades and other personal qualities that would qualify her for scholarships. She chose a school that she knew I could never afford and she earned scholarships to pay most of her tuition and board. She often volunteered to stay home and attend a local university because it was less expensive. I encouraged her to follow her dreams. Now I am very grateful that she was willing to work so hard because this private university pays the majority of her tuition and had she attended the state university near home, we would actually be paying a larger portion of her tuition because of cuts in state and university budgets and the lack of availability of scholarship funds. I am very grateful that she was determined and dedicated to her education and I am very grateful to all the patrons of her university who supply the funds to pay scholarships for these girls to attend.
My car has been wonderful to me for years. I have been so very thankful not to have a car payment for so long! And it ran beautifully through two transmissions and a ton of minor repair jobs. It was seven years ago that the mechanics told me that a broken belt had bent a couple of valves in the engine and that it would not run without a new engine for more than six months. I was blessed with six years and six months longer. The oil leak never got any worse than when it was diagnosed. The mechanics could never pinpoint the source! And yet it never got any worse. The only major surprise was when it overheated on me on a trip to pick up my daughter from college for a weekend visit – and that was completely my fault! I had checked the water in the radiator before I left home and had not secured the radiator cap properly. What a ditz! It is long past time for my sweet car to be retired and I hate to tell her good-bye, but she has served me well. I am grateful for every mile we traveled together!
I am grateful for friends who never complain when I need a helping hand with a ride to work or the grocery store and who will allow me to help them in return. The barter system is alive and well with friendship as the common denominator among many of us. I am grateful that I possess skills that allow me to give to others. I am grateful for people who are not selfish or self-centered. I am grateful for other single parents who understand a single parent’s plight without needing an explanation. People, in general, are wonderful and I am thankful to be surrounded by good people.
I am thankful for my job and for the paycheck that it generates. I may live paycheck to paycheck with every dime allotted to some need, but at least I can accommodate those needs. Me, nor my children, ever go to bed hungry. We have – and always have had – a roof over our heads. We have love and support and understanding and always know that we are not alone. Money cannot buy us those critical commodities. There are times when I wonder how I will pay for everything at a particular time, but I have slowly learned not to worry, for everything will be taken care of in its own time and its own way. I have learned to trust – and that was a very hard, very delicate lesson to learn. There are times when I slide backwards on this one – closing myself off to opportunity for lack of trust. In my “middle age” years I am finding that I still have a lot to learn – and I am glad that I do! This means that life will continue to be exciting and I will continue to grow. I cannot imagine a boring, stagnant life where I have no new experiences for me to anxiously await!
Life is never easy and as I say it, I know that it sounds trite. I just want to insure that all my readers know that I am aware of the hardships that are far greater than my own. No matter how difficult life may seem, please, stop and take a moment to be thankful for what you have – your children, a roof, food, a job, family, friends, whatever it may be. For one day, focus only on the things you have and forget about what you are lacking.