Let me start by saying this: I’ve had a crappy day. I know this is an inauspicious beginning to a gratitude-related post, but bear with me. Avery threw up last night in the middle of the night, all over Chris. He actually faced her into his chest in order to minimize the damage to the rest of the bed. It worked: there was somewhat less laundry/linen changing than you’d think. Still, Chris and Avery both required showers. Since I was exhausted when I went to bed, middle-of-the-night vomit (and the subsequent clean-up) was not an improvement. Have I mentioned that I hate vomit? I do. “Doesn’t everyone?” you might be thinking. Sure, but I have a particular aversion to it. I can deal with pee, poop and just about anything else. Vomit sends me running for the hills, and the smell of it always creates a very real risk of me joining the party. As such, Chris is typically the vomit wrangler in our house. But as he was coated in it, that left me to deal with the bedding, not to mention sorting through Avery’s entourage of stuffed animals, doing the smell test to determine what had been contaminated. Not fun, clearly. I needed to wash my hands three separate times just to deal transporting the mess to our laundry area. I started the first load, washed my hands yet again, remade the bed and collapsed. I woke up later still feeling tired, and like the cold that’s been on its way out might be regaining some ground.
Later, I spent several hours sending out resumes, always a demoralizing process. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and I get so little response. Somehow in the 10 years I’ve spent at home with the kids, my innate skill set and job experience have become erased or rendered irrelevant. At least it feels that way. I remember a time when I got some sort of response to probably 70% of the jobs I applied for, and if I made it to the interview I got an offer nearly as often. I was young, I was bright and I had plenty of recent experience. Now, I can practically hear crickets chirping after I send out a resume. It’s draining whatever confidence I had when I started looking again, and even a few hours sending out resumes can take a lot out of me.
Finally, we got still more mail reminding us of the financial wreckage we’re dealing with. This isn’t small stuff, and it isn’t going away. It’s frankly going to get worse before it gets better, and true resolution is going to take years. The ramifications of all of this – even in the unlikely event that one of us scored a decent job tomorrow – are life-altering. I can face nearly anything, and I will, but imagining the impact all of this will have on my kids leaves me lying awake at night. It makes me feel like I failed them, and that just about destroys me. Life-altering, truly. I am not overstating any of this.
Then I tripped over a post on Facebook, as these things happen, and got reminded of the many things I have to be grateful for, and there are many. I won’t share the details of the post because frankly they’re depressing (yes, even more depressing than my own personal disasters) and because I don’t know the people involved and it’s therefore not for me to share. I tend to over-empathize, even with strangers, and this story just kind of rocked me. But in a way, it rocked me back onto my feet. My problems are real, and they are life-altering. No one is apt to line up to trade places and unless the lottery gods decide to bless me, there’s no real way out. The only way out will involve hitting bottom and starting over, and it’s going to suck. There will be tears and frustration and trauma. I can’t escape it, and I can’t shield my family from it. I hate it, all of it.
But here’s the thing about life-altering stuff: it means I have a life that can be altered. That may sound trite, especially after a post filled with a deluge of both minor and major complaints, but it’s the truth. I have a life. It’s hard and stressful and I can’t claim to be grateful for the problems that all too often seem to suck the joy from my days. But it’s my life, and the potential for improvement exists every day that I am living it. Every day I get to laugh at one of Braeden’s silly dances or have Avery tell me she’s going to hold my hands while I go potty. I get to watch Braeden finish his last year of elementary school, and be there at his graduation. I get to listen to Avery have tantrums that involve more and more complete sentences, because she’s not a baby anymore. I get to watch her grow. I get to grip Chris’ hand and know that whatever goes down, however bad it is, we’re in it together. Together, we will face anything.
I am grateful for this life and all of its blessings. I am grateful for all of the moments that remind me how lucky I am to be here, how lucky I am to be Braeden and Avery’s mom, and Chris’ wife. I am grateful, and I promise to do my best to remain grateful, no matter what.
P.S. I didn’t take any pictures yesterday, so I’m not sure what, if anything, I will attach to this. Still, it’s a gratitude-related post. I think it counts.