I Can't Complain

It's Saturday morning, and our alarm goes off at 4:20 a.m., just like it's been doing every day this week. First, we hear a song we love, but are likely to hate after two more weeks of this schedule (Nickel Creek - Hanging By A Thread). Then seven minutes later, the wristwatch nearly falls off the dresser beeping like a bomb countdown.

At 4:30 a.m., when I find myself somehow in the kitchen, when I awake to the third alarm of the coffee grinder, I furrow my brow and press my teeth together as if biting back lucidity. My mind is too jumbled to think up proper curse words, so I just pout and think in blurry phrases of resentment.

By 5:00 a.m., when the kids are still upstairs snoring in their sleeping bags, cocooned in the only space on the floor not covered in train tracks and doll houses turned train stations, I brush off my grudge against 4:00 a.m. like toast crumbs from a counter. I peek in at the remnants of Friday night's sleepover, warm mug in hand, and I smile, shoulders scrunching almost to my ears to warm me, or maybe to add corners to my smile. These quiet moments are entirely mine.

(Well, at least until the dog comes clicking up the stairs to see what I'm up to, threatening to wake the kids with her jingling collar unless I feed her. Fine. I'll feed you, but you should know that MOST dogs don't get their breakfast until at least 7:00 a.m.).

It's 6:30 now, and Larry has been at work an hour already, and we hope to see him before bedtime. When the kids wake up, they will tell me they remember Daddy coming into their room in the middle of the night to give them goodbye kisses, but only because they know that's what he does, and not because they really remember.

I know that I could get away with complaining about this schedule, and about how much we miss Larry when he is gone for 100% of our waking hours and some of the sleeping ones too. But on most days, at least once I make it past 5 a.m., the complaints disappear like dew when the sun comes up strong in the heat of summer.

I don't take any of this for granted, not anymore.

I could complain about his schedule or be grateful he has a job.
I could complain about rising so early, feeling so tired, or be grateful for these peaceful hours.
I could complain about the uprooting, the downsizing, the stress of this move, or be grateful that day by day, we are making our way home.

Even now, as I begin a list of what I could complain about, I realize how trivial these things are when stacked up against the beauty of the life I've been given. To complain would be as ridiculous as sitting underneath a sky splattered thick with stars, a paisley black and white threaded by thousands of faraway suns, and to gripe about the moon not being very bright.

When I feel the grumbling welling up inside, I like to imagine turning the issue over like like an old coin, to see whether there is a shinier side, to find the places that sparkle when the tarnish is removed. And when I do this, when I hunt for gratitude, the treasure I find amazes me.

When I see it this way, I can't complain.


What could you complain about? If you flipped that complaint over, could you find something underneath, something shiny or just full of potential, something to be grateful for?

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