We had a slow morning. The children both woke up happy. We had a dance party before school started. We ate peaches, cereal and eggs for breakfast. I managed to put on mascara. They cleared their dishes without being told. I hugged them both deeply. I breathed them in, and sent them off to school. I said a prayer of gratitude for this ordinary life.
I feel a deep and connecting love to my children and my spouse, and I can’t help but wonder if today feels so good because yesterday felt so awful. We had breakdowns over video games, and free time, and school work. We argued over who gets to tell who what to do, and who always gets to do something and who never gets to do something. I hustled them out the door and felt defeated most of the morning. A rough start to the day was only exacerbated by the haze of wild fires in the pacific northwest, hurricanes in the southeast and the enduring grief of 9/11. It’s easy to get bogged down with the weight of things, but I’m also grateful for it. Darkness can create light in strange places.
I have always been acutely aware of how temporary life is. I know we don’t get to keep it. I know my children do not belong to me, and each year they push themselves farther and farther from me. Birthing them was in fact the first separation, the first loss in what is a slow and continuous loss that will go on until one day they no longer give me sweet kisses and instead offer them to children of their own. They are old enough now to have experiences unique to them, and I can only hope they let me peer in through the window of their lives. On days like these, I try to find gratitude in the mundane. Peace in the routine. Grace in the redundancy of it all. I know I am blessed beyond measure.
It’s easy to forget gratitude amid such heavy sadness or to feel like you shouldn’t express happiness in times of grief, but I think that’s exactly when we take stock of our gifts, inventory our power and strength and shore up our courage. It’s done in such little ways every day. In moments whispered between lovers, in the way a child plucks a blossom from a garden, believing with absolute certainty that more will magically appear in its place.