I don't think my parents will ever get a break from raising me.
I am a 32-year-old mother of four. I have a college degree, have lived in more interesting places and met more interesting people than I ever thought possible, and I still need my dad to gently nudge me into place now and then.
We have been in Germany for seven weeks but have been living out of suitcases since the beginning of June. I'm too tired to do the math, but I can assure you that it all adds up to one seriously grumpy woman.
I'm tired of clothes that have no drawers, chairs that have no cushions, overhead lights and my one borrowed spatula. Between the can opener that no longer works and the hollow, cavernous house where every little whine echoes throughout like a call from the Grand Canyon, I've about had it.
I need my stuff.
The other night I called my dad on the phone for a little catch-up. We're currently between homes and have some big decisions to make before we settle in and have our household goods delivered. I find a little advice from my well-seasoned father always comes in handy. Also, I like to hear the sound of his voice.
Straight out of the gate he wanted to know how I was. And so I unfolded my laundry list and started in on all the terrible inconveniences that come with transient living. Poor, poor me. Poor, poor us. Our stuff won't be here for three more weeks, what if I die of stufflessness?
"You know, Annie," he said, "I know it's hard, but you are so very lucky. Just think of all the people out there right now who are without a home or without any of their belongings and will never see their things again ..."
"Yes Dad," I said with a big intercontinental eye-roll, "I know. Other-people-have-it-much-worse-and-I-should-be-grateful."
Then I did what any intelligent teenager would do and quickly reminded him about why my situation is hard for me. Doesn't that matter to him? This was followed by an abrupt change of topic.
But the next morning I couldn't get my Dad's reprimand out of my head so I did a little googling to see just how self-centered I really am. Turns out I'm a total banana brain who probably deserves to have all my belongings dropped in the Atlantic Ocean as penance for my brattiness.
Did you know that the United States alone has experienced a record of 10 extreme natural disasters in 2011? That means over a billion dollars in weather-related injuries with more than 700 deaths. Five tornado outbreaks, two major floods, a drought, a blizzard and Irene. That's not counting the earth quakes or any of Mother Nature's less sizable catastrophes (nearly 100 of them in the first six months of the year).
And we have four months to go.
I read those stats and thought about something I heard on NPR this past week while I was cleaning. A man being interviewed in Vermont had lost his home and every single possession, but it's worse than that. He had no bank account, ATM, credit card; every scrap he owned was in that house. Gone, gone, gone.
So many people have nothing, nothing, and here I sit complaining because it's taking an extra week to get my junk delivered.
We've all got problems. Work, health, relationships, money: There isn't a soul on this planet who hasn't been handed his share of challenges, and there are times when the shares do not seem fair. I guess the real test is whether or not we can find value in whatever it is the good Lord has dished out to us.
Today I thanked God for a dry place to sleep and a slightly overcast sky. In lieu of what so many others are experiencing right now, my cup-o-blessings is so full it's spilling all over the counter.
Suddenly, I don't mind the mess.
Annie Valentine is a Layton wife, mother and columnist. Readers can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at regardingannie.wordpress.com.