There are so many things that I feel thankful for this year. I woke up at about 3:30 this morning, fully awake and conscious, and thinking about all of the blessings in my life. These are a few that came to mind in those first few moments of thoughtfulness:
- Of course I'm so terribly thankful this year that my family is complete. Today marks four months since we took custody of Seth and Lizzie...four months since our lives changed irrevocably. I am so thankful for my children - my three remarkable miracles who are my dream come true. I think regularly about the day that Matthew was born and am moved to tears every time when I contemplate how much I longed for him and wanted him. And of course, we also waited years for our Seth and Lizzie, who I can't imagine life without, even after just such a short time of being family together. I am thankful, too, for the birth family of Seth and Lizzie - that in unbearably difficult circumstances, they made the decision that enabled us to complete our family; I can't even imagine what that decision was like to make or implement, but I am endlessly grateful for the merger of our lives, our families.
- Geoff gets his own bullet point on this Thanksgiving day. Geoff and I have gone through some hard patches in our almost-seventeen years of married life...no doubt about it. But a while ago, I lay in bed looking at the man sleeping next to me. He was wearing his c-pap breathing mask, and I thought (as I have a hundred times in the years since he's been wearing it at night) that he looked like some kind of extra terrestrial creature! But my heart was filled with gratitude as I thought about the fact that he was there. Despite all of the obstacles, despite all of the crap that I dish out, despite the fact that life is just darn hard sometimes, Geoff is still here...still committed to us, still loving me, still parenting our kids. He works darn hard to provide a good life for his family, and I'm simply thankful for him. He had no way of knowing, as I lay there and looked at my very own ET, that my eyes were full of thankful tears for him.
- I also thought about my siblings. Neither of them pays attention to my blog, so this bullet point is not here gratuitously...they truly warrant their own comment because of how thankful I am for them, how much I love them. Between cancer and marriage breakdown, my siblings have gone through a lot of stuff in the past couple of years; their worlds have been rocked, and so too have their challenges rocked my world and challenged assumptions I have had about life. These are people who have known me since birth and love me still despite that fact...especially as we get older, I am thankful that they are rooted in my life.
- When I woke up so early, thinking about the things that I am thankful for, the first people to cross my mind were my parents. I probably don't talk enough about my parents...at least in flattering ways! But as the years pass by, and as I reflect on my relationships with these people in my life, what occurs to me is that my parents have always simply been here for me when I have needed them. There were years in my twenties when my mom and I didn't get along all that well, and I worked through issues I had with both of them during those years (I can only imagine the issues my kids will have with me some day). But when I now, many years later, think about the constancy that they represent in my life, the ever-present landing pad that they are when things are hard and I need a soft place to fall, I am grateful. My mom's listening ear and soft heart, and my dad's stalwart presence and unfailing generosity towards me, really grab my heart...they have given my life stability and an endless source of love, and I am very thankful for them. They are also grandparents that I am thankful for. All three of my kids adore their grandpa and grandma...and to my delight, the feeling seems to be mutual. My parents have greeted their newest two grandchildren with open arms and hearts, and I don't take for granted that they love and pray for my children. I really can't imagine not having my parents in my life, and I am truly thankful for them.
- My heart is also full thinking about my wonderful friends. I have been blessed with incredible friends: friends who live near, and friends who live farther away; friends I have never met face-to-face and friends I see regularly; friends I have come to know through work experiences, and others who have entered my life through adoption; friends who are new, and friends I have known since early in life. Amongst all of them are a few women in my life whom I consider 'lifers,' because I just know we're going to be in each other's lives in perpetuity; these women are beloved in my life - they challenge and change me, they inspire and motivate me, they share as well as listen, they're 'there' for me as I hope to be there for them, and they love me as I love them. As I think of the friendships in my life, I know that I am blessed.
- Though it's strange and a little difficult to actually write these words, I'm also thankful to be a stay-at-home mom now. I have a separate blog post coming soon about life as a stay-at-home mom. Though I only worked very part-time since Matthew was born, I haven't worked at all since Seth and Lizzie have been home, and don't intend to resume my work for at least a while. So I guess that makes me a stay-at-home mom. It feels very odd to think that, because even working so part-time in the past has provided me with tremendous feelings of satisfaction. I love my work, which is what helps me to understand what it means to make sacrifices in the best interests of one's children. There's no doubt that it's harder to live on one income than 1+ income; and there's also no doubt that I feel a sense of loss that I am not in the workforce at all. But on the other hand, I am very thankful that we are in a position that we can make it on one income, where I don't have to work. There are many women who would like to be in a place where they could be a stay-at-home mom, but can't, and I recognize the gift of being able to choose. I'm also thankful for the opportunity that my being home provides us: I can be with our kids during this important transition and attachment time in our family; we can h/school; and I can be present for every conversation my kids need/want to have. Though there are lots of other ways to raise children and many other legit choices to make about one's career life, for this time, I am very thankful to be a stay-at-home mom.
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. I wish you a day full of reflection and of joy and of thanksgiving.