I don’t know how many of you have been to Claim Jumper. It’s a restaurant chain found in only a handful of states. They’re known for classic home-style food and BIG portions. In our family, where money is beyond tight and going out to dinner is a once or twice a year luxury, Claim Jumper is pretty high-end.
On one occasion, we happened to be eating at Claim Jumper with my parents. (We were
scaring sharing with them the news that I was pregnant with our fourth.) We all decided to order dessert. I opted for the “Mini” Eclair. The waitress arrived a few minutes later with an eclair the size of a football.
I’m not even joking around. That’s a “mini” eclair. I dug my fork in, so ready to enjoy this giant pile of chocolate and custard gluttony. I took the bite, and was utterly disappointed. I love eclairs. I had been thinking about this dessert for awhile, and couldn’t wait to try it. I had built this eclair up in my mind as the be-all-end-all of desserts. And, it just wasn’t.
Isn’t it the same way with so many things? We over-anticipate. We romanticize. We allow expectations to run wild. We don’t have it. We’ve always wanted it. It HAS to be great. We see the lives, activities, hobbies, achievements, etc of others and think….”That looks amazing! I HAVE to have that too!” Then, when we experience even a small taste of what they are living and experiencing, we realize, it’s not everything we hoped it would be.
Today was a rough day. In truth, it’s been a rough
month few years. My husband deftly observed that we were in need of a “cheering up” treat. After the kids were in bed, he ran to the local grocery store to pick something up. He came home with a little bakery box filled with two small eclairs. Bundled up on the couch, enjoying an episode of one of our favorite shows, we sat and shared the little eclairs. It wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t big. To many, there wasn’t anything special about that moment. From the outside looking in, it would have just looked like two tired parents watching Parenthood, eating a cheap grocery store dessert. For me however, that moment was a powerful realization that I have it pretty good.
That small, un-fancy, cheap eclair was AMAZING. In that quiet moment with my husband, I realized that it was enough. I’ve been struggling for awhile with contentedness. I’ve envied the life a few of my close friends have. I’ve struggled to accept where we’re at as a family. I have friends that have gone on more vacations in the last year than my husband and I have gone on in the entire ten years of our marriage. I have friends who have child-care and date nights any time they want it. Dinners out. Outings with kids. Getaways. Expensive hobbies. Successes. Being content is hard….especially if you live in a constant state of comparison.
What works for someone else, may not be the best thing for YOU. Sometimes in life, the sweetest things, biggest rewards, and happiest moments don’t come in the flashiest or most expensive or extravagant packages. My family is not the “big eclair” family. I needed to come to accept that we are the small, un-extravagant, but incredibly satisfying small eclair family.
I was thinking about my life in the wrong way. I was focusing on everything I didn’t have. I was thinking about all the things I wanted but couldn’t have. I’d look at what other people were doing and long to “take a bite” of the kind of life they were leading. They were all taking bites of the giant eclair….why couldn’t I? It was only when I came to recognize the things we DO have, that I realized just how amazing our life is. Yes, to others, it’s the cheap grocery store, “date night” on the couch type of life. We don’t have the football sized eclair lifestyle.
I might not have vacations, date nights, money, or be the huge smashing success I want to be. No, all of my WANTS are not met. BUT, I have absolutely everything I NEED. That big, fancy, “looks too good to be true” type of life, isn’t for me. My sweet and humble life is actually pretty satisfying.
Bottom line? ACCEPT the life YOU have. Stop daydreaming about the life of others. That big fancy eclair looked incredible from afar. It looked like the dessert I’d always dreamed of. In reality? It turns out that the simple, grocery store dessert makes me happier….because that’s my reality. You will experience a new level of JOY when you are content with what you have. So dig in, take a bit…experience all of the good in your current situation. I know it can be tough. The life we are leading right now is stressful, emotional, and financially challenging. But, this is where we are. I can either smile and enjoy what I have, or begrudgingly go through the motions of my own life…wishing for someone else’s. Choose the small eclair. Be happy in YOUR own life. Stop daydreaming about the life of others, and recognize just how sweet your own life can be.