This week while volunteering at Sunday School, the lead teacher Ms. Elizabeth invites me to do the same craft the children do. She hands me a paper leaf and a marker and asks me to write what I’m thankful for.
It’s funny how as adults, we don’t ask ourselves what we’re thankful for the way we ask kids. Instinctively I want to write, “I’m thankful for my family,” or, “I’m thankful for my kids,” but for some reason I don’t. Instead, I sit and think. Why not just, “I’m thankful for my husband, Steve”?
Since I’ve been reading Bringing Up Bebe, a book comparing French and American parenting culture, I think a lot about one of the main themes in the book: guilt. Apparently, French moms don’t harbor guilt about breastfeeding, working outside the home, or prioritizing time alone with their spouse the way American moms do. According to the author, an American mom feels guilt when she puts her needs before the needs of her child, even if the decision ultimately benefits the child.
It’s as if the guilt American moms feel to leave the kids out of anything manifests itself to me in this simple leaf project. I feel bad to write, “I’m thankful for my husband” because I feel bad not mentioning my kids, as if that means I’m not also thankful for them. We seem to somehow forget (or perhaps feel bad) that before there were kids, there was a relationship.
After contemplating my leaf for way too long, I finally settle on what to write: “I’m thankful for my best friend,” and I draw a male and female stick figure with some girly hearts.