It’s the season of giving thanks. I like to think I don’t need a special time of year to remind myself to be thankful – it’s never far from my thoughts that I am blessed with good health and a loving family. This year I got to thinking about some other things I’m grateful for.
Here they are, in no particular order…
#1 – Sleep
I’ll start with the most obvious. Show me a parent of young children who doesn’t yearn for long stretches of unbroken sleep at night. I miss sleeping through the night like a vegan misses cheese. My daughter is – astoundingly – 7 months old now, which means I haven’t slept through the night in about 10 months (a third trimester bladder wins over sleep every time). That said, there was one night a couple weeks ago – one sweet, blissful night – when my wee ginger princess slept straight through from 7pm until 5am. That means I slept straight through from 9pm to 5am. 8 HOURS, PEOPLE! I was completely disoriented when my home girl finally squawked. Kind of like this:
But oh. Was I rested! My eyeballs weren’t all scratchy and dry from being startled awake and forced to see through the darkness several times in the middle of the night. There was pep in my step. I drank coffee that morning simply because I wanted to, not because I needed it. I wish I could say that was the start of a new chapter in the sleep story for my sweet cherub; alas, it was not. We’ve been hanging out 2-3 times a night since then. But I am ridiculously grateful for that string of unbroken hours of sleep. They give a tired mama hope.
#2 – Hot tea or coffee
Lukewarm coffee is gross. But caffeine is caffeine and a tired mama can’t be too picky. My kids seem to have a sixth sense as to when my coffee is at the temperature for prime drinking enjoyment. That’s when my son decides he’s dying of hunger and can’t wait a nanosecond longer to eat lest he combust, or my daughter poops with such force that her diaper, pajamas, and every toy, blanket, and cushion within 3 feet of her needs to be changed, washed, or sterilized. And the dream of enjoying a hot coffee quickly dies.
#3 – Available cashiers at the grocery store
Do you know what’s worse than waiting in a long line to check out at the grocery store? Waiting in a long line with young kids. As soon as movement stops and we are in waiting mode, shit gets real in my cart. My son pokes at everything within reach – even the stuff in other people’s carts – and my infant daughter reminds me that there is no fate worse than standing still. When I get to the checkout and see a cashier wave at me to indicate that her lane is open and ready, it’s all I can do to not hug her and blubber big heaving sobs of gratitude into her shoulder.
#4 – Time alone in my house
Pre-kids, this is something I took for granted in a big way. Being able to flow from one activity to another on a whim. Taking long naps or baths or both. Seeing a task through to completion in one sitting.
Talking on the phone. (Just kidding. Who does that anymore?) Texting, guilt-free. Crafting. Writing. Cooking. Tending to my home. Post-kids, I may have time to do things when my kids nap in the afternoon, but I am always on standby mode. At any given moment, one or both of my children might need me, so I find it difficult to fully immerse myself in whatever it is I’m doing. I mean, it’s hard to relax in the bath while worrying that I might need to jump out of it and streak naked through the hall to a crying child. (Note: This has not happened. Yet. I hold firm that it likely would be my fate if I took a bath during nap time.) So when the husband declares that he is going to venture to the park or the grocery store with both kids, the sun gets brighter and the angels sing and this mama appreciates every second that she is solo in her home. All two times it has happened.
#5 – Clothing with pockets
Me, trying to get down the stairs in the morning: baby girl in one arm, phone tucked precariously into the waistband of my pajamas, one used bottle being held against my neck with my chin, another tucked into an armpit, spare hand holding the hand of my son. Last spring, I found – on sale – a cozy winter nightgown that has a big kangaroo pocket across the belly. So I bought 4 of them. And I wore them all summer long. Because of the pocket. But most clothes don’t have pockets that can hold more than a phone. So I think I might need to invest in one of these:
#6 – Dinner planned by anyone but me
I don’t mind cooking. I quite enjoy it, actually. But I loathe meal planning. And I do mean loathe. I am left to do it alone (yes, I’m throwing you under the bus here, Husband). I have to take into consideration the needs and likes of: a picky vegetarian (me), a carnivore who usually gets home from work after the rest of the family has eaten, and a 3-year-old who, if he had it his way, would eat nothing but peanut butter and jam sandwiches and blueberries for the rest of his life. If someone – anyone – would just hand me a meal plan that made everyone in my family happy at the same time, I would gladly – nay, gleefully – cook that shit up.
#7 – My friends with kids
I have never been one to shy away from trying new things (except in the food department – because dinner foods and dessert foods just don’t belong together…like cheese in cake, or carrots in cake, and insects should not be consumed unless you are a bird or a lizard…I digress), even when there is an element of risk or uncertainty involved. That said, parenting is by far the strangest and wildest adventure I have ever been on in my life. Thank heavens for all my mama friends right here with me! They get it when I talk about how heavy and all-consuming the responsibility can sometimes feel. It’s those same people who can relate to the intense joy that comes with being a parent. They understand the relationship strains, the total exhaustion, the abrupt change in priorities. My mama friends know how long the days can feel with little ones underfoot, but also how shockingly fast the time goes. The connection and support that I get from my mama tribe has kept me afloat during some very dark days. Their collective knowledge, experiences, and encouragement are better than anything I could ever hope to find on Google. I am eternally grateful to have them in my life.
#8 – My friends without kids
These gems. I don’t see them nearly enough, but when I am lucky enough to get some face time, I soak up their stories and live vicariously through them for a little while. They regale me with hilarious tales from the dating trenches. They never fail to impress me and make me proud with their career ambitions – from pursuing doctorates to hosting tv shows to changing employers in the pursuit of more meaningful work. They show love to my littles, but at the same time they are beautiful reminders to me of the person I was pre-littles. Even though whole months sometimes pass, during which I am too consumed by the tornado that is motherhood to reach out and say hi, they are always there for me, ready to pick up the conversation right where we left off. You know who you are, ladies. I hope you know how much I adore you.
#9 – Good weather
We’ve had a lot of rainy days lately. You know what rainy days mean to a mama with two little ones?
Mess. They mean catastrophic mess. Without the option to go outside and burn off preschooler energy, my son becomes a human tornado, spinning from one activity to the next, leaving a trail of destruction and MESS in his wake. If you have read any of my previous posts, you might have reached the (accurate) conclusion that I like things a certain way. (Hello my name is Kelly and I am a control freak perfectionist.) When I see rain or bitterly cold temperatures in the forecast, I want to curl up in the fetal position and hum ‘Twinkle Little Star’. But those looonnnnnnnng days trapped indoors due to bad weather do make me extra appreciative of the days we can get outside to play and explore. As long as it is relatively dry and unlikely to cause any part of us to turn black with frostbite, we will spend time outdoors. Oh yes, children, we will.
#10 – Quiet
Life with kids can be loud. Oh. So. Loud. Sometimes the noise is joyful – laughter and singing and make-believe play. And sometimes it’s not-so-joyful, like when my son’s face abruptly meets the hard kitchen tile. Or when my daughter notices that she is not in Mama’s arms. Oh the noise that ensues then. I don’t think I appreciated silence enough before I became a parent. I didn’t even notice the silence. But now I do. I notice it, and relish every moment of it, no matter how short-lived it is.
What are you grateful for?