Saturday Gratitude

May 9th, 2009 by Rainey

So sometimes life gets a little heavy.  And lest I fall into a miry pit of self-pity, I have decided to change my course and begin writing five things for which I am thankful each day, or at least once a week.

I am not holding myself to any permanent timeline with this whole gratitude idea.  Not because I don’t believe in being grateful and thankful for the gifts of life.  But because I know who I am.  You see, despite all my best laid plans, I am notoriously bad at self-discipline.  I am the one who gave up soda for Lent in college, then decided one soda a week would be ok, then moved to one a day.  And then…well, whatever.  Let’s just say I didn’t make it through forty days by a long shot.

I am also the one with an array of beautiful diaries and journals, all with varied covers symbolic of where I was in life when I bought them with the best intentions.  The pink princess journal with a lock and key: I was in elementary school and I had a little sister.  The bright green and pink and purple impressionistic flowered hardback journal that housed quotations and poorly constructed poetry: I was in high school, searching for wisdom, and trying to find it in the heads of other people while still thinking I was much smarter than I truly was.  The Japanese inspired blue leather journal that I wrote in post-partum: I was a bit depressed, but could still sense beauty underneath it all.  The muted blue leather journal with metallic overnotes that I sometimes still write in: conclusion still pending.

The thing is…those journals/diaries/blogs (ahem)/what-have-you began with great aspirations.  And I was pretty consistent for at least a week.  And then they began collecting dust on my nightstand and, finally, were unceremoniously shoved aside for books I was reading or other things that began to occupy my time and interest.  Same with my grand ideas when it comes to new spiritual disciplines.  I am just not very good at it.  And I could come up with millions of reasons why that might be…millions of excuses.  But basically, I get distracted easily and am just not all that disciplined in general.  Diets, diaries, exercise regimes, and big ideas.  All wonderful in theory, but generally never picked up as habit or incorporated into my day-to-day routines.

So perhaps I should revise my expectations and rather than begin with a goal for the days to come simply begin, period.

Five things for which I am grateful and thankful today, on this day before Mother’s Day:

1.  I was in Panera the other day eating by myself before picking Zeke up from daycare.  It was my “day off”–which holds less meaning than it used to.  But I was wedging in some quality time with a bowl of soup and my Christian Century magazine.  And I kept being distracted by all these other women.  The one who was carrying a toddler, a diaper bag, and a highchair to the table on her own.  The one who was eating while holding her infant in a sling while her other daughter sat across from her in the booth meticulously deconstructing her ham sandwich.  The one who was helping her mom with the cane to her table before going to get their food.  The one who was so obviously shoveling her salad into her mouth in a desperate attempt to eat something before her child tired of his bottle that I almost laughed.  And I was just filled with this sense of camaraderie and thankfulness.  I asked the woman with one too many things in her hands if she needed help and she said no, that she was fine.  And I chuckled a little bit, knowing that she was going to do it all.  Because that is what women do.  We do it all.  We work.  We care for each other and our loved ones.  We care for small children and elderly parents.  We make dinners and wash dishes.  We clean floors and organize our calendars and go to work in the morning and tuck children in at night.  And I was thankful that day.  For the experience of being a woman and a mother.  For knowing and loving and having such a wonderful relationship with my own mother.  I am so thankful for all she sacrificed and all she did for us and for the way she loves us.  For having the opportunity to see my sister grow in her own sense of self and strength and commitment and joy.  For having such powerful, strong, loving, gracious role models in my own life.  For having such good friends, even if they live very far away and feel very far away sometimes.  For being able to live this crazy, hectic, sometimes-bone-sucking, exhausting and still exhilirating life.  I am thankful for my son.

Was that five already?  I have more!

2.   Tonight I was feeling sorry for myself after we put Zeke down for bed.  Because it was 7:00 and my evening had effectively come to an end in terms of any social interaction.  I did not have a good book and we don’t have cable.  I had work I needed to do and no real motivation.  Conan was going to go for a run.  And I was just being pathetic.  I sat on the couch and Conan sat beside me and he listened to me gripe and he gave me options and asked me what he could do.  He listened and supported me while I came up with all my different ideas for the future.  And I realized that this was just our life in microcosm.  Because even when I say that women do it all, I know that I couldn’t do anything without my husband.  Feminists, don’t get mad!  I mean that I would just not be any good at any of this if I was in it on my own.  Having Conan there to listen and discuss things with.  Having him here to support me and root for me and want good things for me.  That is such a gift.  So tonight I am thankful for my husband.

3.  I am thankful for our internet connection.  All the friends we have here in W’chester are in a different life-stage than us.  Either they have grown children or have older children or have no children.  And so when our evenings end at 7 theirs continue.  They are either staying up later with their whole family.  Or they are leaving the house to do things and go places.  And I sit listening to the lullabies on the baby monitor and play online.  I love our computer because we have no cable and, as I mentioned previously, I have no good book to read tonight.  This may seem like a strange thing to list.  But tonight it feels pretty important.

4.  I am thankful that we have what we need tonight.  We ate a good dinner of leftovers because we had more than enough to eat last night.  We drove around because we have two good cars and can afford fuel.  We have a house and a cat and furniture and central air.  And after working at the soup kitchen this morning with my youth, I am once again reminded that these simple things are not always so simple.

5.  I am thankful for words and the way that they can help me reflect and rearrange myself so that I can go from pity-party to thanksgiving simply by writing a few meager lines.

What are you grateful for today?

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