Photo Credit: New York Daily News
I have a confession to make: I bought my second (and third) lottery ticket yesterday.
I went to the grocery store for a few items with the boys. Mostly fruit, because we managed to eat all of the week’s allotted fruit during the 3-day weekend. So I packed up the boys, put them in the car and we went on a “field trip” to the grocery store. It was a logistical nightmare, but I had fun labeling the different items in the store and giving Ursa Major a chance to stretch his vocabulary. Ursa Minor, still in the carseat, sat in the back of the basket, essentially looking at his brother’s butt while playing with a teether. I feel like I neglect him so much… another post for another time.
My husband had given me cash for the excursion. As soon as he had given it to me on Monday, I had the bright idea to buy a lottery ticket.
I had, until yesterday, only bought one lottery ticket in my life. Back when the Powerball jackpot reached some 500 Million Dollars back in late fall? Remember that insanity? I was like…look, come one, you gotta take a chance. It just made a lot of sense. My husband thought I was an idiot. And I was. I bought 3 tickets. I won nothing.
And after that, I felt stupid, and I was like: “I’m never going to buy another lottery ticket again.”
So here I was at my grocery store at noon on a Tuesday with a toddler (who was restless) and an infant (who was content) in the line to get another damn lottery ticket. I decided I’d play my sister’s birthday (she is really lucky) and Ursa Minor’s birthday (He, like my sister, is also a dragon baby, and I thought that maybe he would have luck too. My sister is also his Godmother, so it was like that makes sense…). I filled out a Mega Millions sheet and stood in line. I got a few looks from some of the little old ladies who were walking by.
Usually, I wouldn’t care about people staring at me. This time, I did feel silly. I’m a grown ass woman. I’ve got 2 precious babies. This money that I’m about to waste could go toward their college educations, or the diapers, or anything else productive. But I stood in that line anyway.
I gave the sheet to the teenager with an attitude behind the counter and I said “I’d like to buy a Powerball ticket.”–mind you, I had a Mega Millions sheet. So I actually purchased two different products. Crap. So she came back and asked for $3 instead of the $2 that I thought I was spending. Because clearly I don’t do this that often (which is what I muttered as I went fishing through my purse. The teenager didn’t even flinch. I was just another wannabe wasting her money). So I put them in my purse and took my boys and my groceries home.
And I hid the tickets deep in my purse so as not to have my husband find them.
Isn’t that ridiculous?
For the last 24 hours, I’ve spent my brain energy justifying my purchase. Why I should be so worthy as to win whatever the jackpot is (I didn’t even know when I purchased). I told myself that I purchased those tickets for my children: I’d buy a house in a good neighborhood, I’d provide for them everything that they need without spoiling them. I’d start a foundation for the advocacy of Mothers of Color. I’d pay off all of our debts, my sister’s student loans, my mother’s debts…I’d make sure that my grandmother was financially taken care of…all good things, unselfish things. I indulged myself in dreams of a nice house and maybe a nice vacation.
And I’m telling you, as I write this, I feel so icky. I feel so ungrateful. I feel so stupid for seeking an “easy way out.” There is never an easy way out. There is no gain without hard work and/or great sacrifice. What makes me think that I’ve earned such a lifestyle? What makes me think that the life that I have isn’t good enough?
I told you that I’ve decided to do a bit of deprivation during Lent. I’ve reduced my soda intake to one-a-day (for caffeine purposes…though I’ve broken it more than once), and most importantly I’ve decided to read the Bible every day for the next 40 days. Biblegateway.com has a cool Lent reading plan, so I’ve been using the site to choose which passages to read and then reading my Study Bible (KJV). All of the readings so far have been from the Old Testament, which confused me at first. I spoke with my husband about it and we both decided that as the days progress, we’ll most likely get into the Gospels, etc, etc. As I continued to read, I noticed that there is a consistent theme emerging: Patience. Patience. Faith. Worship. Patience. Patience. It’s coming. Be Patient.
And I’ve seen it in my own days. Like with this craziness with the Dermatologist last week. I actually thought, for a few hours, about cutting off all my hair this weekend. I gave it actual, serious thought. I thought about a timeline of growth and whether or not it was worth it. Isn’t that crazy? Then I did a deep conditioning routine this weekend and gave my hair a huge treat with pure/unrefined shea butter and jojoba oil and sweet almond oil, and my hair looked and felt amazing. It felt strong and it looked beautiful. I looked beautiful. When I looked in the mirror, I could hear the lesson in my head. Patience. It’s coming. Wait for the Rogaine. Patience. Your hair is fine.
And then The Husband went to pick up the prescriptions that that horrible Dermatologist gave to me. An anti-itch medication for my scalp and a lotion for my face. The lotion, in the instructions, specifically states not to use if you are breastfeeding. Wow. The anti-itch stuff I used and it didn’t work and it made the itching worse and my hair feel gross. So as I write, I’m counting down the minutes till the boys are down for their nap so that way I can wash it out. Patience. Faith. Patience.
My Father used to tell me, almost every day, when I was a child that “patience is a virtue.” I was not a patient child. I’m not a patient grown woman. It’s hard to be patient in an instant-gratification kind of world. For an a-type, highly successful woman like myself, it’s even harder to assess life and feel stagnant. I’m 28 years old. I’m looking 30 in the face. I feel like I didn’t do anything with my decade. I feel like my twenties are going to go out like a Lamb when they should go out like a Lion.
And That. Is. Stupid.
I graduated from undergraduate and graduate school. I started a great career and touched the lives of hundreds of students (and that will reverberate through at least another generation if I really did a good job). I married a great man. I moved from my home to a city a thousand miles from what my experiences before had been. I traveled outside of the country 3 times and had a lot of fun. I’ve made professional contacts from around the country and even around the world. I’ve inspired at least 3 other young people into becoming very cool young teachers. I’m the mother of 2 beautiful boys. I even have 20 followers on my little blog, dammnit!
My 20’s have not been wasted.
So why, oh why, did I need to buy a lottery ticket yesterday?
Because I was selfish and ungrateful and unfaithful and impatient in that moment. Because I forgot all of the blessings, all of the hard work, all of the luck, all of the advocacy, all of the angels, all of the positive energies that so many people past and present have poured into me. I forgot that my hard work and the hard work of those around me have earned me a life that allows me all of the things that I need and even a few of the things that I want–and that is luxurious and a great blessing.
So I’m sorry that I bought that lottery ticket. The Powerball Jackpot for the ticket that I accidentally bought is $70 million. I know this because I checked the Mega Millions numbers this morning. I matched 1 number. I earned back my $3…if I choose to turn in the ticket. The Powerball drawing is tonight. I’m ashamed to say that I’ll check tomorrow morning. I’m 100% sure that I won’t wake up a millionaire tomorrow.
If I do, I promise I’ll keep blogging.
but I know I won’t, so I’ll be blogging anyway.
In the meantime, I’ll go about my day humbled, reflective and grateful. For my precious boys. For my handsome, supportive, and wonderful husband. For the blessings in my life, known and unknown. For the days that are not promised to me. For the opportunities that await me if I choose to seize them, work hard and then earn their rewards.
and no more lottery tickets. Because there are no easy ways out. Only patience and faith and hard work.