I’m not always gracious. I suppose that many people are that way, but they aren’t me. I try to be as gracious as possible when someone is going out of their way to help me. Sometimes the help goes awry, and turns annoying or into an outright inconvenience. When I’m feeling especially stressed out I have a really hard time mustering the patience that graciousness requires.
I’m currently experiencing a hectic period of time in which I’m running from one thing to another, barely finding any time for myself. Now there’s a recipe for a patience shortage! Add in the fact that this hectic time is also emotionally stressful, and it’s the perfect combination for some ungraciousness. Last night Hillary graduated (after 9years) from our town’s middle school. This was a relatively last minute decision, and I‘ve decided that 6 weeks notice was not enough time for me to adequately deal with the thoughts and emotions such an event holds for this mother of a child with special needs. There are currently other situations in my life which I am stressing over, and this was just the icing on the cake. I’m not fond of a lot of “hoopla”, and large crowds of people have never really been my thing. So I was not looking forward to attending the graduation ceremony. I could have told the school that Hillary wasn’t going to participate in the ceremony, but is it really about what is easiest for me? Of course not. I have always just wanted to give Hillary as many “normal” experiences of life as possible, and graduation is part of that. Although I would have felt better not having to go, how could I deny Hillary that experience? Even though she was unhappy about all the preparations we had to do at home, she did seem to enjoy the experience: taking pictures, gifts, flowers in her hair, a special outfit, the gown, the processional, the speeches, the band, the applause and being with her peers in front of all the parents. I, however, failed to enjoy it. It was a lot more work for me to get her ready at a time of day when all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch with a book, my computer, and the tv remote. I got her ready, got myself together, and off we all went to the ceremony. I had been told by the school that we would have a parking spot reserved for us as well as 3 seats right up front in case we wanted to take Hillary home early. The parking spot was taken by someone else, and one of our chairs was missing. I’m afraid that even at this early stage my graciousness and patience were dangerously low, and I snarked at the man taking the tickets. This man was gracious enough to ignore my poor attitude and asked someone to get us another chair. I managed to get through the ceremony but the rudeness of the other parents really wore on my last sixteenth of a nerve that I have left to get through the month on. By the end of the whole thing I was cursing just above what would be considered under my breath, and barely managing not to shove people out of my way in order to exit the building to meet up with Hillary and her aide. Once outside, I couldn’t wait to get home, get Hillary in bed and then relax. I suppose that once some time has gone by and I can catch my breath I will be able to see how good this was for Hillary, and be glad that I did it. At some point in time I will be gracious enough to be thankful for all the extra effort put forth by the school personnel to include Hillary in such a way that she felt like part of something besides her family. Then, perhaps, I will rest easier in my mind.
***by Susan Donald