Life is good. My boys are healthy, and for the most part happy, and I am feeling so grateful for it all. Which coincides nicely with the holiday that is supposed to be all about thankfulness and gratitude. Yesterday was Thanksgiving and this year we celebrated at my parents' house. All I had to do was get up, go to yoga class (yay! ME time on a holiday!) and then show up with boys who were clean and dressed, some mashed potatoes & a green salad in hand and then be available to help out where necessary for dinner and clean-up. Considering the insane schedule I've had over the past few weeks, this was luxury.
From left to right: My Mom's Mom would have been proud: She always wanted a photo of the holiday tables...; My sister made the pecan pie (using Grandmommie's recipe) Mm-mm; my Mom got crafty and made a chocolate cake in the shape of a pumpkin-adorable!; Turkey's ready!
Mom getting the meal ready; Elijah taking a nap; Uncle Bill, Davin & Christian watching a movie; and My sister & niece checking out the Black Friday deals
Grandmommie relaxing; Charles pouring champagne; My nephew playing video games; Me- taking pictures
It was a regular holiday- probably not unlike many family's holidays around the country, but I am reminded of how blessed we are to have each other and to have these moments to savor. One could say that I am on a bit of Thanksgiving high right now. Not to worry- once the effects of the pecan pie wear off, I'm sure to be back to normal.
Last week at Christian's preschool, the kids were each asked what they are thankful for. Christian said he was thankful for Mommy and Daddy. (Guess Elijah has been stealing too many of the train tracks during play time to make the list...) So, I feel a list coming on: What I'm thankful for, and What I'm not so thankful for:
I'm thankful for my family. Despite the occasional heat I might get for choosing to....let's say, make mashed potatoes instead of sweet potatoes, they "get me". I don't have to put up a wall or pretend to be someone I'm not. They actually like and accept me for who I am.
(Although, it seems yesterday they would have liked me more if I brought sweet potatoes...)
I'm not so thankful for a 14 page Medi-Cal application.
Let's spell this together: P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N.
I'm getting it done by the time the weekend is over. I have to.
Even though it sucks.
I'm thankful for my friends. These are the people in my life who challenge me to be a better person. The last few years has changed the scope of my friendships- having children has bonded me to people in different ways. For some friends, the commonality of having children has been an incredible bonding and growing life change. For others, our friendship regardless of children has grown truer and stronger with each passing year. Differences in our life paths strengthened our relationships and shows what genuine care and respect we have for each other.
I'm not so thankful for having client files go completely missing off of my computer. Seriously. What the heck happened?
And before you ask...NO. I had not backed up recently enough to recover that one.
I'm thankful for little getaways. I recently had a fabulous 24 hour getaway with my best friend- just catching up, laughing, eating, pedicures and watching movies and I felt 23 again.
I'm not so thankful for being back from said getaway for a mere 10 minutes before having all former stress return instantaneously. De-stressing completely undone and I'm back to feeling 40 again. Sigh.
I'm thankful for the fact that I have a body with the ability to move in skilled and careful ways. This may sound crazy, but I reap such benefits from dance and yoga and I appreciate it even more as I am a daily witness to how hard my baby boy has to work to physically accomplish the little things.
I'm not so thankful for how quickly time passes. I strive every day to live in the moment, and yet those moments are swift and fleeting.
I'm thankful that people sometimes pleasantly surprise you. I am going to end with this one and share a story that happened recently:
I have written in the past about a Mom at Christian's preschool who I can't figure out. It seems like she has been blatantly ignoring me for some time and I recently decided to march right up to her, smile, and say, "Hi! How is it going?!" I got a little insight into that last week. I was leaving Christian's preschool, when I spot this Mom sitting on a bench with her youngest (in a stroller) at her side. Upon seeing me, she beams with a giant smile and says, "Hi!!!" I was surprised, because this is a far cry from how she has greeted me (if at all) over the past year and a half. So, I say, Hi! She asks, How is your littlest one doing? (Who was not with me at this time.) And I say, He's doing great! He's definitely behind developmentally, but he is a sweetie and he's just doing what he's supposed to be doin'! How is your littlest one? She says, She's doing good. She is a year old already.
Me: A year already? Wow- the time flies!
She: Well, she doesn't look one year- she's very small for her age.
Me: Yeah, well, Elijah is small for his age too, so I get it.
She: Well...she's really small. She's not even on the growth chart.
Me: I hear ya- Elijah's not on the growth chart either. (Well, technically, I think he is still on the chart, but barely.)
She: Well...we found out that she has Dwarfism.
Me: Oh, really?
(Me internally: Oh............REALLY? So this might have something to do with why I have been getting the cold shoulder.)
We talked for a few minutes more and then I had to go. But, I left with much on my mind. I wasn't wrong about the fact that I was getting a cold shoulder, but I was totally wrong about why. The explanations have many possibilities, probably most likely being that when you get news that temporarily turns your world upside down, it's not easy to process. For all I know, this Mom was avoiding everyone. Maybe even me particularly. Maybe because she knew in some ways we had something in common and that might not have been a reality she was ready to accept. Maybe it looked to her like I had it all handled and she didn't yet. Who knows?? But I know it wasn't coming from the same place I thought it was. The reality is that she and I DO have something in common: We face the fact that society will see our child as different before they see them as the same. For me, I'm settling into this role. I've found that as long as people get a chance to just be around my youngest son, they don't see him as different. They see him as just Elijah. Not everyone will have the opportunity to spend time with my son, and there will be times (as there already have been) where I am choosing my words to help people understand that different is okay, and even good, and even sometimes...special....though not in the way some might have thought... This Mom will find her way. And along the way, I hope she'll see that I am there for her, because I think being a parent to a child with special needs- regardless of the diagnosis- creates a community of acceptance.
I was surprised by that Mom. I was pleasantly surprised, and I'm reminded that an open mind and an open heart is the best way to go. We never really know what someone's circumstance is. We can make judgements based on how they look and how they act and what they say, but until we really get to know them, we just don't really know. What is that saying? A wise man knows he knows nothing.. ? Or something like that. Time to remember how little I know...
I'll close with an impromptu photo caught today of my firstborn playing with a bunch of older kids and having a blast. This moment brings into focus all kinds of thankfulness: for the sweet boy I call mine, for the kids who so lovingly took him under their arms, for the beautiful fallen leaves, for the joy that a pile of fallen leaves can bring...