Monday, December 20, 2010

Have a little faith

Do you ever step back and look at your life from a distance?  Do you hear your voice and your children's voices coming back at you and think to yourself, "That's not how I planned it.  That's not how I want it"  and vow to start all over and raise your children in a caring, peaceful and thoughtful world.  I hear the materialism seeping into my children's everyday'ness, and think to myself that I had little and I got by.  Just fine.
And at Christmas, we seem to take a moment and think about how lucky we are, we try to give back, and with a little self righteousness, try to teach our kids a life lesson of how we should help those in need.
But on Boxing Day, we race to the mall to queue up again for a carpark and the Boxing Day sales.  Sadly, for many  it's often a short lived message.
I want to give my children a more enduring lesson.  One about compassion and an infinite awareness of what we have and what others don't.  But I don't want this lesson to be a pitying, feeling-sorry-for-others kind of exercise.
In a former life, I attempted to set up in NZ a charitable website which sadly got gazumphed in the final stretch by a more finer and fabulous example of the same thing.  But in my research, some of the more generous charitable givers were those in lower income brackets.  Those that gave generously with their time and effort, were often in need themselves.
I want my kids to see that those that are less fortunate, also have compassion, generosity and dignity.  Oodles of the stuff in fact!
I don't want them to just think that compassion is giving a bag of old toys to a homeless centre the week before Christmas (although this is a wonderful start).  It's a 24/7 thing.
I had a lesson once.  It was a lesson in dignity and pride.  A former husband partner is a doctor, and pulled a weekend stint as a locum GP in a very dodgey side of town. It was the kind of place with closed down shops with graffitied, metal roller windows and a pumping, pokie-addled pub with too many cars in the carpark too early.
I helped out by working reception.  The medical centre was jam packed, my partner was working his butt off.  He got paid what his patients paid him (or something like that).  It was clear that many in that waiting room didn't have the means to fork out the $22 or whatever for the doctors visit (as you can see it was a long time ago).  We knew it wasn't going to be a big money spinner, but what we didn't know was that it would gift us a beautiful life lesson.  Because many patients were kids, their parents had the motivation to seek care for their babies.  And almost all the patients paid. I watched as they pulled out plastic bags or old cigarette packets jangling with coins, and carefully counted out the right money.  Every ounce of me wanted to say to them "don't worry, that will be enough, that's close enough", but I couldn't, it was just too important to them.  It literally warmed my heart seeing people with next to nothing doing what was right.  Because it was the right thing to do.
We drove home humbled.  And thankful for that day.
My job as a mum is to pass on this knowledge and instil in my children infinite compassion.  And not just at Christmas.

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