As we drove to school the other day, Avery said to me, “Mom, I really want a new stuffed animal. Can we go to Target and buy one, PLEASE?”
“Hmmm. I don’t think we are going to buy one today,” I said.
“But, Mom, I really, really want a new toy. Can we get something?” she asked in desperation.
This is how a lot of conversations have gone around our house lately. At 5 years old, Avery is now beginning to be influenced by her friends and what others have or do, and it leads her to a place of wanting more.
As I’ve noticed this pattern of continually wanting more, I’ve tried to approach it carefully. What usually happens in these situations is that kids hound their parents for something and the parents get frustrated and snap at their kids and say something like, “Stopping asking me for things!” The kids cry and the parents swear never to bring them to a store again. This has happened in my house approximately one thousand times.
I wanted to approach it differently this time, though, and really get to the heart of it.
“Avery, you know, sometimes when you are asking me to buy you stuff, it makes me feel like you don’t appreciate all of the things that you do have,” I said.
“No, Mom. I do appreciate them. Really. I just want to have something else, too,” she countered.
“I don’t know,” I said. “I think if your heart were thankful for what you have, you wouldn’t feel like you needed more and more and more all of the time.”
And then I went on to give the speech that every parent has given where we try to express to our children how fortunate they are and how much they already have in comparison to the rest of the world.
I recounted this story later to Michael. I told him how I had expressed to her my feelings that her continual need to have more made me feel like she wasn’t grateful for all of the gifts that she had already been given.
As I am saying these words, I hear this little voice in my brain say, “Heeyyy, Ladyyyy!” I promise you I heard it in the voice of the Beastie Boys singing straight to me (because you can take the girl out of the ‘90s but you can’t take the ‘90s out of the girl, okay?).
It suddenly dawned on me that I am guilty, too. I have never thought of myself as really struggling with this issue because I tend to think of myself as pretty balanced when it comes to shopping (although, it’s all relative, isn’t it?). I don’t usually struggle with feeling like I need to buy lots of stuff or have lots of stuff. Truth be told, Michael has more clothes than I do.
But I realized something else. For me, the issue isn’t needing more money or more stuff, it’s needing more time.
For me and a lot of the mothers that I know, our currency is time and we want more of it. I want more time to write, more time to relax, more time to do the things that I want to do. We theorize and strategize about how we can line everything up just right so that we can do all that we need to do for our families and then also find the time to do those things we seem never to get around to doing. It’s like being caught in the middle of a Chess game that no one ever wins.
So much of my time and energy is spent worrying about whether I have enough time, and a lot of frustration results because I constantly feel that I’m being shortchanged. And as I preached to Avery about how always wanting more indicates that perhaps you aren’t grateful for what you have, I realized that I was speaking to myself, too.
There will always be more that I could do if only I had more time, just as there will always be more fancy toys on the store shelves if only I would buy them for my kids. But as every mother knows, you might buy that one toy that they desperately need, and in an hour or two that toy is old news and they are left feeling exactly as they did before. More stuff never fixed anybody. It’s a fallacy that our kids haven’t caught on to yet. I’m beginning to think this perpetual need for more time is a fallacy, too.
How would it change my life if I simply chose to believe that I had enough? That God had already given me what I needed for this particular day, and it was enough? That I was simply going to be grateful for what I have already been given?
I think that tiny shift might change my whole reality.
I could stop and look for a moment at how lucky I am that I get to play outside with my kids before school because I don’t have to be at work early instead of wishing I had more time to get more work done while they are away.
I could be grateful that we spent an afternoon playing in the pool and laughing our heads off instead of feeling guilty that I didn’t get to the mountain of laundry that has been taunting me for days.
I could take each moment as it has been given instead of constantly wanting more.
More is never enough, and yet we keep chasing it. It may be stuffed animals on the shelf at Target or more time to work or relax or more things for our house. Whatever it is that we are constantly seeking more of may be just the thing that we need to stop and appreciate.
How about you? Is there something in your life that you’re constantly feeling you need more of ?