Last night we watched The Prize Winner From Defiance, Ohio. A random selection from the library. It ended up reminding me of how many qualities or lack thereof that I would love to improve or change in myself.
The mother, Evelyn Ryan, raised 10 kids by winning competitions during the 1950s for writing lyrics or jingles for different brands. She was married and a lot of the movie focused on the relationship between her and her husband. He was an alcoholic who really loved his family, but couldn't get over his addiction enough to ever help his family to have what they needed. His heart was mostly in the right spot, but his flesh was weak as the saying goes.
What stood out to me was Evelyn's attitude. Here she is married to an alcoholic who spends money on his liquor before thinking of his own children or wife, yet she continually tries to show him love. In one contest she wins a timed trip through the supermarket which allows her to fill up one cart full of items. She asks each child what they want and even when her husband feels silly about the whole thing, she finally gets out of him what his request would be. Given that she's got a family of 12 to consider, this trip would be a great opportunity to fill her cart with necessities--hamburger, beans, etc. But, she uses the experience for more than that and fills the cart with items that they've never tried because they've never been able to afford them. Even though the kids don't necessarily even like the items she brings home, she still provides them with an opportunity to experience something new.
At home, as they are all trying out the various new foods, her husband is angry--who knows why, it appears that he's jealous of her success--and throws out a bunch of the expensive food she wins while everyone is celebrating with her. It is a perfect opportunity for her to be angry and feel slighted. A great chance to yell at him and justify how at least she provides something for her kids to eat while he only thinks of himself. But what does she do? She ignores his outburst and instead goes and gets him the item he requested as a special treat and graciously and lovingly hands it to him telling him to enjoy his dinner.
How often am I turning the other cheek when I feel slighted? How often am I looking at mistakes my children or others make that interfere with my schedule and shrugging them off because we all make mistakes after all.
I find it amusing and frustrating all at the same time when Owen throws a fit about a situation not working out how he's pictured it in his mind, yet don't I show a little bit of the same emotions when I get impatient with someone else? Aren't I just as much a child in my progression when I envy someone else's talents, but not take into account the discipline and dedication involved in the pursuit of that accomplishment? How often, in an argument, do I try to justify my own actions and point out faults on someone else's part, instead of turning the other cheek? How wonderful is my ability to notice detail if I only use it to criticize negatively?
I love these movies and I hate them all at the same time. I really want to have this woman's can do, patient attitude, but yet I find myself being frustrated and upset over inconsequential things. I tried really hard to be sweet and slow to anger for at least the first half of the day and then I got tired and my kids were being really loud and I yelled. Would Evelyn have done that? Probably not, but I did. Here I am raising three kids and I can't make it a single day while she happily raised ten kids with an alcoholic husband.
I'm not naive enough to believe she was infallible, but it does cause me to sit back and question my own person and how much I need to work on. It also causes me to feel extremely grateful. I have a husband who is reliable and cares for my needs. I have friends that I get to visit because I have time. I have a wonderful life that is much easier than Evelyn's, so I need to step it up and appreciate what I have.