Tuesday, August 30, 2011

GratiTuesday: Abundance

I don’t watch the news. I haven’t intentionally buried my head in the sand; we just don’t have television. I do listen to CBC radio, and have an occasional glance at the newspaper when I visit my parents.

Violet planted these cosmos in May, from seeds she received as a birthday gift.
My decision to minimize my exposure to the news started when Jude was born, just before Hurricane Katrina. One night, while visiting my parents, I saw some footage of that horrible stadium, of rooftops, or diry water and helpless people.

I was almost paralyzed by a weird mix of emotions. I felt grateful that I was holding my newborn son in a clean blanket in a safe house. On the other hand was the intense guilt I experienced when I heard of women desperately seeking clean water with which to mix their babies’ formula. I was conscious of every drop I used to make sure my baby had a warm bath before bedtime, or that his clothes were clean.

I eventually had to stop listening to the radio, because every tragedy fell on my new-mother ears and all I could think about was the mothers out there who had lost their children violently, or helplessly watched them die for want of food or water.

I have spoken to other mothers who have experienced this intensified empathy upon having their own children. Motherhood connects us to the people on this small planet, and encourages us to see, above everything, the humanity of all humans who suffer.

I spoke about this with a friend the other night (I’ve been feeling those mixed emotions about the abundance of fresh food available to my children right now, in the midst of drought and famine in Africa) and she wisely stated that the key is recognising that I am blessed, and being aware of the many blessings bestowed upon my children. I thought of those faraway mothers every time my children splashed in a lake, drank water from the hose, and blew bubbles this summer.

I can’t make sense of why some of us have so much while so many have so little.

Violet and Margot call them bikinis...this is a bikini fight.

So all I can do, today, is be grateful. For the apples and plums we pull from our trees, the zucchinis that reach impossible proportions, the flowers that thrive in our rich soil, and the water that sustains all this abundant life.

What are you grateful for today?


  1. I tend to keep my new exposure limited to CBC radio...I find that even that becomes almost too much.
    Today I am thankful for, the cooler climes, Oak Meadow, that although we struggle our lives are setup to make homeschooling a possibilty.
    Happy Gratituesday.

  2. I am grateful that despite being sick (colds, possibly a flu), we're all still *healthy.* Warm clothes, secure roof, nutritious food, access to medical care if necessary. Electricity, running water. Loving family.

    When I start feeling the "I'm still sick after a week?!" pity party coming on, I take stock of what really matters.

    Ps. I can't read/watch the news either. It's not just the empathy, it's the paranoia. First I feel sad and then guilty and then worried. And it spirals out of control. My husband and the blogging community keep me informed of the things I need to know. (:

  3. Grateful for my hot mug of tea! I struggle with these overwhelming emotions as well. I work at the General, which is attached to CHEO. When I go and get my morning coffee at Starbucks, I inevitably pass a child in a stretcher being wheeled somewhere to either have surgery or recover from surgery. I get so choked up, and sometimes feel embarassed by how emotional I get...I used to be like this when I saw animals in pain, and now it's just anything in pain!! I guess it's part and parcel with being a mother.

  4. Like you, I am happy to live in a "media void" (I figure if the news is big enough, I will hear of it one way or another). I can't bear the constant onslaught of bad news, hyped up by the media as it always is (I mean really, isn't there anything good happening in the world on which to report?).

    No doubt about it, motherhood somehow connects you to all living things (at least if you are an emotionally/mentally/physically undamaged person), and I think that is a good thing. Women are the heart of the home, and we can expand that word, "home" to mean our world.

    I am grateful for the fact that when my kids say, "I'm hungry", they really mean, "It's been two hours since I've eaten and I want a snack." I am grateful for the fact that even though we are very tight financially and there is a long list of things we "need", we are rich compared to the poor of some nations, and these "needs" are for things that would be considered luxuries in some third world countries.

    Have a blessed day.

  5. Just linked up to you today :)

    And I'm with you on the news. Eidolons above said it perfectly. My empathy turns sadness, then to guilt, then worry. I remember when we moved to our last "new town". There was a series of truly tragic events, both local and national all at once, and it really affected how I felt about where we were living. I spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying and thinking we had made a huge mistake in moving there. In reality, these things happen everywhere everyday, they are just magnified in a small town, and these ones happen to coincide with some really awful things going on in the country. Since becoming a Mom, I really find it hard not to let that kind of stuff settle in my mind. I just can't let it go. After that summer, I decided I was going to remove all things that didn't make me feel good. I hear what I need to know from my husband, but I don't watch the news, and I stopped watching TV shows that focused on worry and stress. And while I really miss Grey's Anatomy, I do believe the change has helped my overall well-being.

    I don't think there is any need for guilt when we see people suffering, as long as we are constantly grateful for how blessed we are :)

  6. I feel many of the same things, and only recently started reading the newspaper (online) again after having my first son nearly five years ago -- and I used to be a reporter!

    This may sound a little petty in light of all the other goings on in the world, but this afternoon I am grateful that my boys have taken a break from picking at each other. It's been a rough few weeks. We're going to celebrate with puddle splashing later.

  7. I know just what you mean...we listen to some NPR and have no television, so the images are kept to a minimum.
    Becoming a mother does just as you said - makes us even more sensitive to others' needs.
    Sometimes I just start crying thinking about the neglected babies in the world.

    We do have so much and are blessed and are thankful.
    Warm wishes, Tonya

  8. I watch a lot of t.v. sitting on my couch with my child who needs to be held 80% of the time and she is almost 8 years old.........yep, I know. Anyway, I have heard and seen wayyyyy too much "reality' for a lifetime and can be kept awake thinking of children being abused. I have learned to quiet my mind as I know I cannot look after and save every single child. What I can do id be grateful that I live in Canada and have access to tremendous supports that help to keep my child at home with me. I am grateful for my exceptional health, my joy that I feel most days, clean air, good food, and doing the things that I love.

  9. By the way......my daughter has severe special needs. I don't hold her 80% of the time for shits and giggles :-)

  10. I rarely follow the media news as it haunts me thereafter, and tends to leave me feeling powerless and paranoid.

    Today, I am grateful for a summer's worth of blessings. For being both exhausted and fulfilled by the riches of family and friends.

  11. Thank you for the beautiful post. I am grateful for... so much...


  12. My firstborn arrived just five days aftter 9/11. It was a really scary time to be bringing a baby into the world, Like world war 3 could be about to begin. Events completely beyond my little families control. I did the same thing and just tried to focus on the sweetness of life, the hope for humanity. The media was just replaying things over and over, endlessly playing the same horrific footage, it w in every paper, on the radio.... Quite hard to escape. Yet that very same day must have been momentous for others around the world for the exact opposite reasons. Some happy things must have happened to someone on the globe that day. Many wonderful things are happening every day that don't get reported. Big things and trivial little ones too.

    We subscribed to Positive News for a couple of years, it was really good to read about constructive human behaviour, about enterprising peoples and schemes, about hope and help and vision. Do you have that kind of paper over there?


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