Ten Weeks, 6 Days ~ May 9, 2004
First, and most fun - I've felt movement! It has been random and rare, but I know what it feels like, and I've been bumped very gently by this baby. YAY! There's nothing as reassuring as movement. It is very, very early, so I know not to expect to feel it all the time - I have to be absolutely still, and even then, it is unlikely that I'll feel anything. But now and then, 'tap'... and there it is. It isn't a guarantee that everything will turn out perfectly, but I am thankful nonetheless.
Which brings me to what I've been thinking about this week. Gratitude. It came up first at my women's worship group. We were talking about daily rituals, things we do each day to keep ourselves centered and connected... most of us didn't really have anything we did each and every day. Myself included. But two of us did. The one that stuck with me was simply finding and focusing on something for which we are grateful, every day. That friend is trying to identify something new and different each day, so not the same 'grateful I have a job I like' day after day. She said that it wasn't going to be too hard to come up with 365 of them... Wow, I thought. That's a lot of them. And yet... hmmm.
That discussion intersected with something else I was talking about with another mom recently. Montessori education. My sons will both be in a Montessori school next year, and Gabe has been there since he was almost 3. One of the things I tell people about when they ask me why I like Montessori education so much, is that the teachers see things in my son that they laud, things they think are wonderful, that could easily, in other settings, be labeled negatively. In the last teacher conference we had, the teacher grinned and went on about how Gabe has really focused on deepening and enhancing his social relationships, and has developed strong friendships with a few of the kids. His focus on this has distracted him from his school work on a very regular basis, so they moved his work partners around until they had him paired with someone who would not put up with distraction. They still thought it was wonderful that he was so focused on his friendships this year.
Now, in another setting, that would easily translate to 'would rather play than work,' or 'does not pay attention.' Instead, they saw it in a positive light, enjoyed and appreciated it, and were pleased to pass on the information to us as his parents. The difference in approach to the situation is subtle, but powerful. They choose to see such things as situations that are positive, but may need to be managed to enhance their usefulness. It is a decision based on their education and philosophy, but it is still nothing more than a choice to seek the positive in the situation.
And that brings me back to gratitude. I've always had a gift for separating the positives and negatives in my life. It hasn't always been enough, and there are some times of my life that were pretty miserable. But over the whole, I was able to enjoy the good moments sprinkled in among the bad days, and take them for all they were worth. It qualifies as 'optimism' in one sense, but optimism is more often applied to issues of the future - hope, expectations. This is more a matter of gratitude for the moment in which I am in. And it, too, is a decision I make. I can choose to let the negatives hold me down, or I can choose to let the positives lift me up. It is my choice.
I am also aware that what I am talking about is not just the lemons to lemonade or clouds with silver linings thing. There are some pains that are not redeemable, that do not come with some hidden benefit. The loss of a child is one of those. We may choose to focus on what we have learned from the loss, but we might well have learned those lessons in another way, without the pain. There is no good inherent in a child's death. But there is good in other parts of our lives, that we can touch and cherish, through a time of great pain. And for that we can be grateful.
Even in the midst of this pretty-awful first trimester, I have been aware of my gratitude. The fact that I am still pregnant is something for which I am deeply grateful. It does not make the morning sickness all day easier to bear in the moment, but neither does the morning sickness stop me from being grateful for the being growing inside of me. Pregnancy is no more perfect than life is. No person in my life is perfect, and in large enough chunks, no time span is without its ups and downs. Breaking things out enough to see the light parts clearly is part of the trick. Listening to what makes my heart sing helps me find the places to look. The rest is just practice.
So here is my gratitude list (or a start on it, at least!):
I am grateful...
... for this pregnancy, this baby, still healthy, still growing... for my children, who challenge me every day to be a better mother, and love me while I learn ... for my husband, who shows such patience, even when I know that he's frazzled beyond his normal capacity to cope. ... for my mother, who looks for ways to make my life easier, and is always there as a resource, guide, teacher, and even as a student. ... for my father, whose gratitude for his children shows in his eyes when he looks at us. ... for my step-dad, who made sure we knew that grownups still know how to play. ... for my second step-dad, who made it clear that shared genes do not define what makes a daughter. ... for my step-mom, who showed me that people can change in powerful ways. ... for my second step-mom, who is always delighted to see or hear from the members of her patchwork family. ... for my home, as tiny as it is. ... for the women who have gone before me into motherhood, leaving their light to shine on a path I can follow. ... for the college guys who crowd our neighborhood, silly, crazy, rambunctious, sometimes totally immature and idiotic, but full of life and showing random sparks of heart and thoughtfulness that give me hope for their generation. ... for my garden, and the time to grow with it. ... for sunny days, and the chance to sit and watch my sons play on the swings. ... for rainy days, and legos, and being jammed between two young boys on the sofa. ... for people with whom to share my fears in this pregnancy - my husband, the women on the StorkNet Message Boards, my friends. ... for scattered friends who will still rearrange their lives to make room for me when I'm in town. ... for unexpected rainbows. ... for that little flicker of movement, no more than the lightest nudge, but more than enough. ... for today, another chance to find something new and precious in my life, even if just for a moment.