One apartment fire that taught me so much about what’s really important in this life.
Two surgeries and two rounds of chemo for Gruff that knit us so close together. We learned to make the most of each day – and though our relationship got derailed for a while there, we are back to making the moments count.
Three blogs on the road to this one…. hopefully each one has improved on the last, and I’ve learned a little bit about the blogosphere in the process.
Four siblings (and siblings-in-law) who have turned out to be wonderful aunts and uncles to Smooch. I still remember special moments with a few of my various aunts and uncles, and I love to see my baby developing a relationship with his.
Five grandparents in my son’s life. While we’ll probably always have some amount of family drama on the side with the split, I’m blessed to see that both Smooch’s bio-grandmother and step-grandmother are great with him. Each of the three grandmas and two grandpas brings something unique to the table – their own set of life lessons, their own interests and joys – and I am learning to appreciate all the richness that lends to our lives as a result.
Six windows. Through the windows in my house, I see the beauty of the changing seasons; the silly happiness of a boy playing in the backyard with his daddy; the neighbors out and about; the sunsets; the busy airplanes bringing people to and from our nearby big city. I’ve learned that I can feel gratitude and contentment for whatever my eyes land on.
Seven amazing hobbies (scrapbooking, sewing, knitting, crochet, quilting, cross-stitching, and writing) that keep me sane and give me a creative outlet – and something to do with my hands when the in-laws visit.
Eight years since I met a tall, funny, smart man who swept me off my feet. He is spontaneous when I am meticulous; he is wide-eyed at the big picture when I am squinting at the details; he is laid-back when I am wound-up. He has taught me how to let go a little bit, and how to enjoy the ride.
Nine pounds left to lose. Around Smooch’s first birthday, I was back to my ‘ideal’ weight (although I don’t recommend that level of stress as a weight-loss plan). In the months since, I’ve bounced back and forth from around five pounds heavier to, now, about nine pounds heavier. I’m not saying I’m glad that I’m out of shape, or that I’ve learned that fat is fun or anything like that. I’ve learned over the years that my body responds to stress by shedding pounds, usually quickly. When I’m a few pounds over my goal, even though it does signal that I could stand to cut out the latte’s and cookies, I know that my life is feeling pretty comfortable. That sort of makes the pounds worth it.
Ten toenails that look so cute when they’re painted bright red! I’ve whined about how I don’t get as many pedicures as I used to, but the truth is that when I take the time to pamper myself (even if I do it inexpensively, at home) I feel a nice little boost to my femininity. I’ve learned that it’s worth the investment of time to do little things for myself, when I can.
Eleven Christmas songs on the CD in my car. I’ve learned that even though I tease my mother mercilessly about her irrational, seasonless love for Christmas carols… I share the predilection to start playing them far too early in the year. Until this post goes live, it’s been my little secret. Only Smooch knows, and hears, that I sing along loudly to “O Holy Night” and “Angels We Have Heard On High” starting in mid-November.
Twelve classic recipes that form the basis for most of my weekly meal planning – they’re each easy to make, good for freezing, and make plenty for the three of us. Plus, they are things that picky Gruff will eat! I branch out with new recipes or seasonal things, but having a backbone of recipes I can rely on really simplifies everything from shopping to prep.
Thirteen months since Gruff’s affair ended. I’m not thankful that it happened. I’m not thankful that she exists. I’m not thankful for a lot of things connected to that time. But I’m thankful that it ended of its own accord. I’m thankful that Gruff faced the issues, made the reconciliation, did the work, went to counseling with me, and made the changes. I’m thankful that our therapists helped me see my own issues. I’m thankful that we have created a new marriage where the old one once stood. I’m thankful that my son will have an intact family. I’ve learned that I can honestly say my husband and I are in love, and happy, and committed to one another.
Fourteen books on my “to-read” list. When Smooch was tiny, I had no time to read; but lately I’ve made the time for it more consistently. Reading gives me something to talk about, something to think about, and something to aspire to. I’ve learned that I feel more balanced when I have a steady diet of fiction and non-fiction, biography and poetry, memoir and fluffy chick lit.
Fifteen hours out of an average 24-hour period that my son is sleeping. For this, I am incredibly grateful. I have learned to love -nay, to cherish -nay, to WORSHIP a full night’s sleep. And we ALL know how Fizz likey de naptime.
Sixteen years as a student (well, it was actually one semester shy of sixteen years) taught me more than the academic subjects for which I was being graded. I learned about my mother’s many skills through my years of homeschooling. I learned how to navigate the social waters of middle school, eventually, and then I learned how to multitask and apply myself in high school. I learned how to share a room, share a secret, share a six-hour road trip, and more, in college.
Seventeen days working on this list taught me that once is enough for this blog-post concept. I’ll never do it again!
Eighteen steps in my bilevel house. I’ve learned that having a stair basket is a MUST, so that I can avoid lots of unnecessary trips up and down with one or two little misplaced objects. It also helps me avoid tripping all over myself as I go up or down. I got mine from my mom, and I love it!
Nineteen-eighty. (Okay, that’s a little bit of a cheat.) It was a good year, and I learned a long time ago that the cool thing about being born in 1980 is that I can always calculate my age easily. Especially now that we’re in the 2000’s – you just take the first two digits, and add them to the last two digits. Since I’ve never been good at math, that was a life lesson that made me smile.
Twenty students a year, times five years, equals one hundred children I taught at three elementary schools across the Southeast. I learned so much from them. Sammy taught me that success might look different than your original definition, but that’s okay. Madison taught me that hearing about someone else’s experience can give you courage to get through a hard time. Megan taught me that sometimes, good people get stuck in bad families. I also learned that teaching in public schools isn’t how I want to spend the rest of my life.
Twenty-one months since I welcomed an eight-pound, three-ounce, strawberry blonde baby boy into the world. His life changed mine. My life is worth living because of his.
Twenty-two moms who help me in this journey. I joined a local group when we moved here that has playgroups for the kids, moms’ nights out, family potlucks to get the dads involved, and a very active email group for questions, advice, recommendations, and support. I’ve learned that I need to surround myself with mothers who know what it’s like to stay at home, what it’s like to have a medical spouse, what it’s like to love the job and still have days you feel nuts.
Twenty-three cousins. I am so happy to be part of a big extended family. I’ve written before about how my holidays as a kid were defined by the buzz and bustle of so many cousins, aunts, & uncles swarming around my grandparents’ home. Now that I’m a parent, and my son doesn’t have many cousins yet, I’m even more sentimental about the lessons I learned from all my various cousins – about coolness, about daring, about intelligence, about stupidity, about friendship that goes deeper when you share blood.
Twenty-four times a day Smooch asks me for “Dada,” and I tell him that Daddy is at work. On the one hand, it breaks my heart a little to see that he misses his dad and can’t have him here when he wants him. But on the other, it’s made me incredibly grateful that I’m here with him all day, so at least he’s not asking someone for his Dada and his Mama and sad that he can’t have either of them.
Twenty-five “hurricane days” off from work during my teaching tenure in Florida – some were overreactions and turned out to be fun, and others were scary and stormy. Just goes to show that you never know how a day will unfold, no matter what the experts tell you.
Twenty-six steps to my mailbox. My very own mailbox at the end of my very own driveway that leads up to my very own house. I’m thankful to be a homeowner, finally, with all the sense of roots and belonging that it has given me. I’m learning it’s not all fun and games and trips to Home Depot. It’s also repairs and expense and lack of expertise and… trips to Home Depot.
Twenty-seven years old today. It’s a wonderful life that I’m living.