In our family, all of us (including me) often have a hard time accepting the basic but sad fact that you can’t always get what you want. One day, as I found myself telling the kids “I’m sorry, but we don’t always get what we want” again and again, a certain song came to mind. Since then, this song has become somewhat of an anthem around here.
Whenever someone’s having a really hard time with not getting what they want, we break into this little song and it helps dissipate the tension. It’s great hearing the big kids sing it to the little kids when they’re on the verge of a meltdown – and to hear the little kids sing it to the big kids on occasion as well! I’ll admit that there are times when the child facing some disappointment yells “I hate that song!” at the singer. But in general, it works pretty well. (If you want to hear a clip of the original song by the Rolling Stones, click here.)
I really try to make sure my people get what they need most of the time–and even what they want quite a bit of the time. But we just plain can’t get what we want all the time. And the sooner we can all accept that fact and learn to live with it, the better!
There are lots of things I want. I want more time to read great books and go on beautiful bike rides. I want a husband who is just a tad more romantic at times. I want laundry that does itself and kids that never whine. I want floors that don’t get sticky and covered with crumbs. I want kids who happily obey me and even do things without being asked. I want to be with my sisters more. I want my kids’ homework to be more meaningful and shorter and less tedious. I want the other parents at the school to start volunteering more so that I can feel OK about volunteering less. I want this saggy baggy twins-tummy of mine to disappear. I want more great women to get involved with Power of Moms so that I don’t have to work quite so many hours on it to make it successful. I want world peace.
I can make some of these things happen (to some degree). But just like I have to explain to my kids again and again, “wanting doesn’t make it happen – work and patience can lead to things happening – sometimes.” (You’ve got to include that “sometimes” at the end – only in fairy tales does hard work and patience ALWAYS get you want you want.)
I can chip away at getting some of the things I want and need. I can read on the treadmill so I can couple my desire to get exercise with my desire to read. I can model and encourage the behavior I long for in my kids. I can work and wait and pray and help many of my “wants” become reality.
But I need to remember the “Serenity Prayer” that my mom had on a plaque on the wall in the house where I grew up: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
We’ve got to pick our battles. We’ve got to choose our causes. We’ve got to decide where to put our time and effort and money. We CAN really change some things – and it makes me sad to see so many people who seem to give up too easily – or who never even try in the first place. We CAN get what we want. But first we have to decide what we really want. And we have to learn to accept, with serenity, the things that we can’t – or shouldn’t – change.
What do you want most for yourself? For your marriage? For your family? Looking at your “wants,” which ones are most important to you? Are there some “wants” that you might need to let go of because they’re objectively not that important or because they’d be more work than they’d be worth? What are you going to do to get the things you want and that feel right to you? How are you going to dismiss the wants you’ve decided aren’t right or aren’t worth the effort?