Will’s Thanksgiving project from last year is still sitting on my desk. It’s a rather large cardboard turkey with big tail feathers that have drawing and messy handwriting all over them, describing what he is thankful for. He’s included The Best Teacher Ever, My Family, The Army, My Math Teacher and Schools. It’s all very basic and it’s all very sweet. It belongs in a pile of years of Thanksgiving turkeys that have come home decorated with everything my kids were thankful for.
The coloring job is crap. I’m pretty sure his teacher told him he had to use more than one color so he got out a red crayon to fill in the neck a bit to balance out the brown body. Ok, so there’s some yellow too. The Mullen boys have always hated the craft part of any project but he was so happy when he brought it home, I can’t help but being proud. I’ll take it just as it is.
Today I’m imaging what my 42-year-old self’s turkey looks like. Imagine I colored it in with all the right colors and made it just how I was expected too. Of course I would. I could fill it in with things like Will’s or at least in the same vein. My Family, A House I Love, Food On The Table, Running and Books. It would all be true.
But really, I’m thankful for things now that I never thought I’d be thankful for. Things that you don’t dream up about your life when you’re little but end up being the things you hang on to when life happens. And man, does life ever have a mind of its own.
For real I’m thankful for:
Shorter meltdowns from my 13-year-old. We’ve come a long way and when his mood takes a dive we don’t have to expect that we’ll all be in the trenches with him for the entire evening, or day, or week. Now, I don’t worry so much if the neighbors heard him (or me) yelling. Also, this is good news because it means when we have family and friends over and he is telling us loudly what horrible parents we are, it doesn’t go on too long and they don’t get to hear all of our shortcomings. And when things are going right, he’s laying with his head on my lap watching football with me (even though he hates football season) and has already forgotten that only an hour ago I was not someone he liked at all.
An afternoon text from my 15-year-old telling me that she thinks I’m awesome. This is news. This is good news. I spent the entire Sunday evening walking by her bedroom with the closed door wondering why she’d rather be in there doing homework/texting with friends/watching Supernatural than hanging out with me. Is she ok? Why would she rather be on her own or with her friends than us? Not my teenager, no. I’ll look around the first floor often and realize she’s gone upstairs to her room and shut the door. I am hearing from other parents that this isn’t uncommon. Grateful for that news too.
The book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Just when I lose hope that I’ll never be a writer or get into school or make anything of this, she makes me laugh and reminds me that I gotta quit listening to all those voices. Anne says, Quieting those voices is at least half the battle I fight daily. But this is better than it used to be. It used to be 87%. Left to my own devices, my mind spends much of its time having conversations with people who aren’t there. Basically the books says don’t think too much, write a lot and get over yourself. I’m pretty sure Drew’s been telling me the same thing for years but I haven’t really listened.
Will’s commitment to sports he isn’t good at. Last spring it was the time he came home, over the moon, because he scored a touchdown. Mom! I scored a touchdown today! It’s so great because no one ever covers me because I’m so bad at it and today I was the one open and I scored! This fall it’s frisbee. Mom, I’m not the worst player! I’m the second worst player! But seriously, I need a shot of whatever that kid has because he goes out and does it and doesn’t let it stop him.
And finally, I chamomile tea a second chance. I think it’s this old drafty house in cold Chicago that brought it back around, but tea is saving me. In the afternoon it lures me in to sit with my computer and books and get the writing done. In the evening it keeps me from having that one more glass of wine. Tea is a guilt free thing to have too much of. And don’t ask me why but chamomile has always disgusted me but I found with a little mint it’s actually perfect.
That’s my little Thanksgiving turkey 2017. For better or for worse, those are the things I’m thankful for- and clinging too.
I hope you have some too.