A Life of Gratitude
Musings of Motherhood
You may have noticed or you might not have … I’ve not been in my normal routine lately. Things have changed – a lot has changed. We are moving. We are moving from a home that we love. We lived here for many years…but we thought we would live here for many more. In fact, somewhere deep down I thought we would grow old in this house. But that is a story for another day. The long and short of it is that I’m so busy with packing, with cleaning, with schooling, with keeping up that I haven’t had a lot of time to sit and think and to play and to just decompress.
My 10-year-old son tugged on my arm the other night. He said, “Mom – do you want to play the Toy Story video game with me?”
I’m not sure how long it had been since he has asked me this, but I quickly agreed.
The game began and as I sat there, Xbox Controller in hand, a flood of memories hit me.
I swiftly remembered the first time we ever played this game as a family. In fact, it was a warm Spring day, many years ago when I first saw the part of the game we call the “balloon race”. My baby had been laid down for an afternoon nap and our ABA therapist was there, helping my oldest son. We were trying to get him interested in playing with his siblings. I remembered how awkward and clumsy I was at this game.
It’s funny how one mundane thing can become attached to so many other memories. As if by an invisible thread I was able to transport to other days and times as a result of pushing my fingers on the controller. I remembered how many battles our family would have, to see who could beat who. The day I bought the Xbox floated into my head – it was an attempt to get all the kids playing together – trying desperately to get our son interested in social exchanges. Our first Christmas in this house. I was 6 months pregnant and tired from staying up too late the night before, my husband building a dollhouse for our 4-year-old daughter. The looks on their faces when they found the Xbox stashed away under the kitchen island. The day A finally learned how to play with the controller and actually beat the rest of us! The sights, the sounds of the birth of our daughter E, the ups, and downs of having 5 small children, the trials, the triumphs that the years can bring. So much has happened in such little time – all against a backdrop of little children growing. And time marches steadily on.
Our daughter, C, and our son, B, used to play this game all the time. Fragments of memories swirl as I see the books, the family nights, the board games, the new friends, the old friends, the sickness, the doctors visits, the toys that were new, the toys that were tossed aside …
Suddenly, jolted back to reality, I realized I had lost – and lost badly. “Mom, I remember when you were actually good at this.” It has been too long. “Yes, a couple of years ago I finally got to the point where I could play.” It’s funny how I lost the hang of this game, now going back to my original state of not being able to challenge a single kid in the house. I was terrible. My son spoke up, “Remember when I was 7? I used to play this all the time.”
We chatted back and forth about how often we used to play and how C used to play and now she doesn’t anymore. She doesn’t like any video game. It was then, at that moment, controller in hand, that I realized just how fast the years have gone by. I had blinked. Like quiet, glittering, beautiful snowflakes decorating the great sky in one moment and then in the next melting underfoot, the years were here and they vanished right in front of my eyes. Our days had melted.
My daughter was 4 when we moved into this house – and in a few short months she will turn 9. My little guy was still a baby when we came here and is about to turn 5 in a just a couple of weeks. Some wise person once said, “The days are long, but the years are short.” (Gretchen Rubin) and they couldn’t have been more right. So tonight I sit here silently trying to capture the moments – wishing that I could somehow cling to them a little tighter… but like snowflakes the more you cling the faster they melt.
This move has awakened something – stirred my soul – as I see how fleeting childhood is. Being a mother can be the most trying and wearing times we can experience as it grips at our heart and pushes our mind and body to the limit. There is something else I grasp as I sit here thinking silently amongst the chaos. I see that being a mother allows us to experience the best life has to give. For that, I’m grateful, for that I’m thankful. Somehow it takes heartache to recognize what you truly love.
Today, I ask you to take this month of November to truly take a step back. Step back from what is hurting you, step back from what is overwhelming you, step back from the rut you are in, step back from the fighting, from the despair, from the mundane day to day life that we moms all seem to live and take for granted. Step back and reflect on the days and the years, the good and bad, and take account of ALL that you are grateful for. To some we might need to say we’re sorry, to some we might need to forgive, to some we might need to say thank you and for others we just need to acknowledge our gratitude. Let’s choose to love and to live a life with no regrets because we choose to live it with a full heart.
What are you truly thankful for today?