Thursday, 17 May 2012

Gratitude and The Art of Being Grateful: A Husband and a Father.

When I was much, much younger than I am now my parents always encouraged me to be 'grateful' for things and at the time I didn't really understand what they were getting at. Mostly they'd remind me to be grateful for the things I had or the things I was given; I always, always thanked people if they gave me something (and yes even when I didn't really like something) as a child because my parents taught me to say 'please' and 'thank you.' 

As an adult I found myself saying please and thank you too much, far too much. To the point where I was thanking people for things I'd done for them. That's okay, I suppose, as in those instances I saw that they provided me with a chance to either be a better person or to serve them and to take something from it. But a lot of the time I was overly thankful, so full of thanks that I wasn't sure it was entirely genuine. More like a conditioned response with no meaning behind it. I also didn't want to offend or upset anyone and really show I was so grateful for them. 

Then I spent time with Bryan. Who never used to say thank you or please...unless you count saying 'thank you' (danke schoen) in German. At first this really bothered me. Why? Because he wasn't being 'proper.' And I was pretty sure that when he met my family and started saying 'danke' to them as a thanks that they'd think he was rude. I'm not a snob in the least. I don't care about people speaking in really fast, heavy Scottish accents. I don't care about where someone went to school or uni - or if they didn't/don't plan on uni. I don't care about the job someone does - if they're working, they're working. I don't care if someone is on state benefits or if they are receiving other assistance in order to, you know, live. I don't even care if someone is an heir/heiress and living off the fruits of their parents labour - okay this one does bother me a little but after watching 2 Broke Girl$ I'm a little less bothered ;).

So, to cap off what I'm saying: I'm not a snob, I don't care about your bank account, schooling, job or what neighbourhood you grew up in as long as you treat others with courtesy and kindness we'll have no real problems. Some of us know what basic manners are, some of us do not. And others have different standards to mine - it's okay. It's just that I had never met anyone who was so uncomfortable with saying 'please' and 'thank you.' And of course now I have met a lot of people who think that 'please' and 'thank you' is no big deal. More than I've met in my entire life.

My previous relationships to my marriage were filled with gratitude - or you know, I like to think so ;). My ex boyfriend really messed up Valentines Day one year; declared it no big deal and bought me nothing, so the next year we celebrated it for a month. I got a present every single week. All his own idea. And once you start a tradition, it becomes just that, so for the next 2-3 years of our relationship that was how we celebrated. I'll say one thing for my ex; he messed up. A lot. And I mean a lot. But when he made it up to me he did it in style. And he was like me; bumbling at times and full of 'pleases' and 'thank you's' for everyone. 

But it's funny that I have those experiences of gratefulness and yet I still believe that the only person who has ever done the best by me is Bryan. Respect is a bigger gift than a month long Valentines. Really knowing someone, asking them sneaky questions to uncover the best gift for them and keeping it secret from them...that's beyond anything anyone has ever done for me. There are other things that Bryan has gone above and beyond on - and yes he still has a way to go believe it or not - but I realised very quickly that saying 'danke' is his way of saying thanks. I let it go. I figured if it bothered my family so much that they'd either mention it to me or they could take it up with him - for goodness sake, they're all adults and it's their business if they care so much! (I'm pretty sure they couldn't give a flying fig.) 

This marriage is filled with gratefulness, a lot of it unspoken thank yous and just knowing we're grateful to spend all this time with each other. It's also taught me that having manners isn't everything - some of the most horrible people, or the people who I've let hurt me the most have been filled to the brim with manners but then filled to the brim with lack of respect for me and only cared about their own wants. Manners aren't everything in a person and they can be taught. Being an inherently good and nice person isn't really something you can teach someone. Being an attentive father and husband is something men choose to be, it is not something I can force on anyone.

So today I am so grateful for Bryan - the first photo you're seeing below? Us on a horribly busy train in the morning. I'd decided the night before, on a total whim, that I wanted to see my gran on a public holiday right after Christmas (one of the worst times to travel) and Bryan said okay. That was a two hour trip with a nearly two year old mostly getting squashed by travelers - or better, tutted at for daring to bring a (quiet) child onto public transport. Bryan just lifted our son from his buggy and sat him on his lap, no prompting or asking from me. 

In the supermarket. Roman was having one of his 'I don't want to be in this buggy' moments - which are rare - and people were staring at me as though I was this horrible child abuser and could control my child's rages at the drop of a hat. I was worked up and stressed. Bryan lifted Roman out and onto his shoulders. All was well in the world and a few passersby may have melted at the scene.

I started out this blog post not really struggling with the things I could say - in fact my problem has been to curb my word count - and yeah that's sickening blah blah blah I know but it doesn't make any of this less true. Yes he annoys me at times and we do have our disagreements and 'discussions' but that still doesn't make any of it less true, either...he's present as a father and as a husband. Does it mean he's perfect? Heck no. He still has things he needs to learn, as we all do, and he still needs to constantly improve but what I will say is that he learns quicker than anyone I know and I'll say it again: it still doesn't make what I've said any less true.

I'm grateful and my gratitude cup runneth over when it comes to Bryan.


Next time: A Home.