written, obviously, on the last night of November...
On this, the last day of November, I go to bed with a heart satiated with thankfulness. Not such a very un-ordinary occurrence on the last day of the month of Thanksgiving, eh?
Well, for me it is. I’ve spent November in a roiling storm cloud of discontent. Even on the days I didn’t feel like a hurricane bottled up into a jar, a sense of unease, an absence of peace stuck to the windows like dirty smog.
I totally flunked my NaNo. Not because I didn’t try hard enough. Because I didn’t have enough time. I burned the candle at both ends and then squeezed the wax drippings into a bowl, but it wasn’t enough. On the nights I stayed up late somehow I never got past the pile of dishes or the mountain of paperwork or the stack of schoolwork or the gargantuan heap of laundry dripping underwear onto my head. And the mornings I got up before dawn had been invented, I somehow couldn’t seem to get past the avalanche of emails needing to be answered and doctors’ appointments needing to be scheduled and phone consultations with college and my lawyer and Hunter’s insurance and the To Do list which stretched from the top of the freezer to the bottom of the fridge.
It’s unpleasant living life at the pace of an cheetah-chased impala running for life. Actually, it’s more like someone sucked out my soul and said I could have it back in three years. I miss time so much. I miss time enough to cook healthy food for us and have time to sit down at the table together and enjoy it. I miss time enough to be spontaneous with Hunter whenever he wants. I miss that extra five minutes that I already borrowed from the next half-hour when he wants to practice making kissy faces in the morning and I need to get out that door to work we’re late late late. I hate the endless exhaustion and the nights when Hunter and I mutually cry ourselves to sleep because I just cannot summon the extra energy and patience to get up and rock him again.
I miss time to read. I miss fingering through books. I miss having the time to read friends’ stories and novels.
But most of all (after the time I miss with Hunter) I miss the time I used to spend crafting, writing, turning ordinary bits of nothingness into something brand new.
And right now, I don’t have the time. Life will continue at this breakneck super-stress scrabble-to-stay-alive pace for the next three years till I graduate school. And after that…?
Anyway. So last week I went down to a meeting of my neighbors (all women in similar circumstances) with this roil of discontent in my stomach. The topic of Christmas came up, and one woman shared that she dreaded the holiday because she didn’t have money for gifts for her kids. She didn’t even have money for bills in December. Another had just started working but wasn’t sure if they were going to keep her on because she continually kept having to leave work to care for her toddler because she was unable to find safe childcare for her upside-down work schedule. Across the street, the lights of the homeless shelter blinked a reminder of how many people wouldn’t even have a roof over their heads for Christmas. And in my pocket, my phone beeped: an update from a good mom friend whose two year old son is in the early stages of bone marrow failure and is going to have to undergo a terrifying, risky transplant before a year is out. Right below that update was another from my Down syndrome moms’ group: another family had just said their final goodbye to their six-year-old daughter who wasn’t going to make it through surgery.
I sucked in a deep, deep breath and that ornery storm inside me just shriveled up and went away.
Because I have so much to be thankful for. I have a steady job which, while it may not pay very well, is fulfilling, rewarding, and allows me to spend all day with Hunter. I rarely have to worry about childcare. I have decent health. I have a son who is amazing and wonderful and lights up my life every day and even though I may not always be able to spend quality time with him I have the ability to spend so much more time than any other single mom I know. And while he has plenty of health problems, he is alive and doesn’t have leukemia or a heart defect that can’t be repaired or any of the dozens of tragedies that could have come along with his special genetic makeup. We have a warm, clean, comfortable place to live, fresh, healthy food in our fridge, money to pay our bills, and a car that (in between periodic temper tantrums) starts up day after day. I’m in school and moving steadily forward to a much, much better future. We see God working in our lives every single day.
Our life is hard. At least one point every day I have to squeeze my eyes shut, breathe deeper than I ever have before, and pray for just that last bit of patience or energy or resourcefulness to not give up.
But our life is also overflowing with blessings. And in the face of so much tragedy and hardship and sadness swirling around us, my complaints seem so very trivial.
So, on this last night in November, I am thankful. I am so, so thankful, so grateful, and so blessed.