Gratuitous, Part 2

27 Apr

Whine: There has to be a way to get through Target without Brother Bear alerting every pitying grandma and bewildered stockboy that I am violating his 8th Amendment rights. Because half-an-hour (ok, maybe it was an hour) in Target is the cruelest form of punishment.

Cheese: By the time he had hollered his way through the store with me carrying him and pushing the cart and spilling out my whole purse in the checkout line, one of the managers came over and said “Hon, you’re gonna need a carryout.” and called a handy little teenage boy over to shove all my groceries into the front seat of my car (although there was only frozen food this time, so I was left to weigh the pros and cons of eating the taquito still frozen.)

gra·tu·itous  \grə-ˈtü-ə-təs, -ˈtyü-\

2 a : given unearned or without recompense b : not involving a return benefit, compensation, or consideration c : costing nothing : free

No cheese was harmed in the making of this photo. Right.

As far as baby gifts go (and I’ve gotten my fair share in the last five years), I’ve come to realize that nothing says “Welcome, Baby” quite like a cheese plate and a bottle of wine. A plate filled with hand-selected cheeses, just for me, I mean, Brother Bear. For a coupon clipper like me, a cheese plate feels sinfully extravagant. Each piece tastes a little bit like guilt as it smoothly melts into my mouth and I wash it down with a sparkling sheraz.

This last month has felt a little bit like a never-ending cheese plate. Wonderful. Decadent. Embarassing. 

Every few days the doorbell would ring and someone would be standing there holding grilled chicken fajitas or sesame beef and broccoli or homemade mac and cheese still hot and bubbly from the oven. There would usually be a salad, with the tiny grape tomatoes sliced in half. Who has time to wash tiny tomatoes, let alone slice them in half?? And the brownies, we could talk all day about the brownies. And the cookies. And the pound cake. 

As I would let each day’s fairy foodmother in to drop off her bounty, she would step over the wet towels in the entryway and the laundry baskets in the living room and would shove the open chip bags aside to find counterspace for the feast she had prepared for my family, I was struck with a sense of guilt. These people have lives. Kids, babies, full-time jobs, papers to grade and/or to write, much more urget things to do than make sure each and every enchilada has enough cheese (and yes, they sure did!). Yet here they are serving my family.

It’s hard to accept help. To know that if it weren’t for some blessed woman making chicken parmesan amidst ankle-biters tearing apart her living room, my family would be eating a frozen pizza, again. Heated up if I was feeling generous. It’s hard because when I let someone help me, I feel like maybe if I had it all together I wouldn’t need to inconvenience them with my ravenous appetite.

So mixed in with the immense gratitude and the deliciously full belly and the relief that tonight’s dinner does NOT involve pepperoni, there’s a dollop of guilt, with just a pinch of shame. I shouldn’t need their help. I should be able to do this alone. But the truth is, I do need help and I can’t do it alone.

Presents keep showing up at my house, too. Books and magazines to read while I nurse the baby. Tiny little shoe-socks. Diapers galore. And money, too, because apparently people who have had babies realize these things ain’t cheap and feel sorry for me. The tooth fairy even stopped by one day with this, which is not baby related but very useful:

Cheaper than a root canal. Trust me.

This is my third baby. I don’t expect anyone else to be as excited as I am. I don’t expect anyone to help me. I don’t expect presents, although I do really like them. So all this hoop-lah has been fantastic and refreshing and appreciated, but I’m not quite sure what to do with it because I didn’t earn it. I get the uneasy feeling that I don’t deserve any of this.

And I don’t. Not because I’m a bad person and I’m unworthy (although I’ve got record high score at “I’m not worthy” the arcade game), but because true love and compassion and friendship don’t come because I deserve it. That would put me in the driver’s seat, always trying to earn more, always looking for my next handout of kindness. And deserving everything I get would rob me of this small little feeling that bubbles up from inside every now and again, this little tiny part of me that feels thankful instead of embarrassed or indebted.

After blessing upon blessing, help and handouts and electric toothbrushes, I’ve found myself heading to a new place. A place of gratitude. I’m pretty sure the friend who brought the king ranch chicken would rather me serve it with a pinch of gratefulness than a side of self-loathing.

So since this is my blog and I haven’t quite managed to write a single thank-you note yet, I want to say a very big THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR EVERYTHING. And not just for the dinners and presents. Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog or for calling me repeatedly until I answer or forcing me to go to the park and even just reading this blog, because getting one more reader might be the most productive thing I do in a day. Thank you for being excited about Brother Bear, and fighting over who gets to hold him (even if you do live a thousand miles away) although he mostly just sleeps and eats and hollers in public. I can say this honestly, the last five weeks have been better because of you.

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7 Responses to “Gratuitous, Part 2”

  1. rachelle April 27, 2010 at 8:36 pm #

    paeking of food, i was thinking spaghetti pie and cheesecake next wed- sound okay?

  2. Sars April 27, 2010 at 8:44 pm #

    um, yes. very much yes.

  3. Kelsey April 27, 2010 at 10:25 pm #

    Check 1 off your productivity list. You officially have a new reader. Laura turned me on to your blog at our lunch date last week and I have been entertaining myself (in reverse chronological order) ever since. In other words, I’m cyber-stalking you. I even referenced you in my latest blog post as my inspiration to blog more and to try to be funnier rather than simply exploit my child’s cuteness in my attempts to entertain the masses. Or my measly 24 followers. Anyway, glad to be on the whiney-cheesy bandwagon!

  4. kellie@LaVidaDulce April 28, 2010 at 5:19 am #

    Thank goodness you finally mentioned King Ranch Chicken.

    While reading I thought to myself, “Nobody brought King Ranch Chicken? You can’t have a baby in Texas without King Ranch Chicken. I might have to send it myself!”

    Whew! Not sure how well casseroles do in the mail.

    Girl, take your cheese plate and toothbrush and enjoy this time. You are totally worth it.

  5. Rosie Haught April 28, 2010 at 8:39 am #

    My youngest is 31 do you think I can still get a casserole or 2?

    You are loved and you are blessed! Thank you to those who have ministered to you since I am so far away! I would have loved to have brought over some homemade tortillas!

    Kisses and hugs to all your babies!!

  6. wee April 30, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    your blog rocks! and you rock! xoxo and don’t forget, sleeping IS productive

  7. Kel May 1, 2010 at 10:21 am #

    You are worth it. Remember where guilt and shame come from. I love you! And what the heck is king ranch chicken?

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