Friday, January 7, 2011

Gratitude and Resolve

The turning of the new year is an amazing thing. It marks not only the passage of time, but also the anniversaries of all that we have gained. It gives us a concrete, markable point during which we have the opportunity to think, really think, about all that has gone before. I'm not saying we can't do this throughout the year, but we get so caught up in the day-to-day that time just slips past, running through our hands like water, vanishing before we've even realized it was something we needed to hold on to.

The last couple of years, though, I've really sat & thought about all that I have to be thankful for, all the joy that I have in my life and also the opportunities I've let slip by. Things haven't always been easy; there are times when I want to crawl into a hole & pull it in after myself, but that's just the day-to-day grind. When I step back and really consider, I realize that things are great, that I'm right where I want to be, and that I have a head full of plans for where I'm going

So, without further ado, the annual list of sappy thankfulness and wishes for the future:

This Boy
cheesy grin courtesy of toddler notions
of what constitutes a smile

Sometimes, I don't even have words for what I feel for him. When I watch him sleep, it takes my breath away. Hearing his laughter is like the sun shining, even during the times when it seems like all I can see is a downpour on an overcast day.

There was a time when I thought that I wouldn't have children, then out of nowhere he was there. A surprise, a shock, an adjustment if I'm being perfectly honest. And even now, there are times, lying in bed, that it all feels unreal. The idea that this perfect person is lying in his crib, just on the other side of the wall, it stuns me anew. I turn up the monitor, just so I can hear him breathing as I fall asleep and I wake with a smile when I hear "Mommy! Where are you?"

Lately he's been challenging, defying us in ways that he never has. He sneaks candy, touches the Christmas tree, grabs things off of Jym's desk, tries to play with my computer, refuses to nap (and then turns into a monster 4 hours before bedtime) and on one heart stopping occasion he ran away from me in a parking lot. He's two, and he's testing limits, exploring his world.

I marvel at the person that he's becoming. I marvel that he is becoming a person, that I get to watch it happen right in front of me. He told me today that his favorite color is blue and it staggered me: how is he big enough to have opinions already? How is he old enough to know these things? But he is, and I soak it up, savoring the becoming & trying to clutch him tight to me at the same time, to keep him small.

But, at the same time, its so easy to just mark the time, to wish away the hours until bedtime. There are days when all he wants is to play with his trains, to run his cars around on the floor for hours at a time. I love to be with him, but when I'm being honest with myself I can admit that toy trains and cars just don't do it for me. I find myself longing for the day he'll be able to sit quietly next to me and read a book. This year I will work harder to hold those hours of trains and cars and make believe close. I will get down in the floor and make choo-choo noises. I will make sure that he never knows that mama doesn't love trains as much as he does, because as sappy as it sounds, his happiness is my own. When he looks back at his early years I know he won't remember many details, but I want his to remember the feelings, especially the feeling of an actively involved mom and all the joy that brings.

This Man
On the porch at Belle Meade, during
our 10th anniversary trip

He is patient, though he will say he is not. He is kind, though he thinks he's a hard ass. He is funny and smart and cuddly and a great cook and a great father (although if he could jump in with the potty training, that would be great). We met when I was 19, and I thought he was sleazy (he is, just a little, like a good used car salesman). I mostly avoided him for the next 2 years, despite the fact that I was drawn to him (or maybe because I was drawn to him, who can tell the mind of a 19 year old girl?). When I finally gave in, he swept me off my feet. We started dating in April and were engaged by June.

There have been hard times, there will be hard times again in the future. But he is there, a rock for my raging river to flow around. Steady and stable, he tempers my moods and keeps me on an even keel when I want to throw caution to the wind, shirking responsibilities and obligations. He helps me be the person that I want to be, he encourages me to do the things that I dream of. When I fret, when I sink into depression he is there, holding out his hand, a lifeline to bring me back.

All those words to say this, simply this: I love him & in 50 years I'll love him still. So this year I will strive to be the patient one, to become more steady and be the person he can lean on. When he needs support, I will not huff impatiently and I will not roll my eyes. I will do things to make his life easier, like he does for me. On occasion, I may even cook dinner (or maybe not, I'd like to keep this realistic).

This Lady
With Alex at Walt Disney World, December 2008

My mother-in-law is, in my humble opinion, the greatest mother-in-law in the history of the world. She comes to our house almost every day and takes care of Alex while Jym and I work. As much as it sucks to leave Alex to go to work, she makes it easier. Alex adores her and she thinks he hung the moon. She helped us buy our house and she's currently given up her garage for more then a month while we try to fix Jym's car. She is supportive, in a no nonsense, zero tolerance for bullshit, Italian mother way and has helped us with so many things that I've lost count.

This year I will be a better daughter-in-law. I will not take her for granted. I will thank her for all the time she gives to our family. I will even take her to lunch, for no reason other than that she is awesome.

These Folks
My parents with Alex, July 2010

My relationship with my parents has not always been the best. I was a rebellious teenager, running wild, said condition exacerbated by my father's struggle with addiction. Things were hard when I was growing up, money was tight and we were far from the Rockwellian version of a perfect family.

But they always loved us and did the best they could. And now that Alex is here, I am desperate for him to know them. They love him beyond anything I could have ever imagined from two grandparents, showering him with attention, filling his time with laughter and joy whenever they're able to visit.

Those visits are too infrequent, however. So this year, I resolve to visit more, to make the 2 hour drive to their home as often as my overstretched finances will allow. My father has myriad health problems, and as much as I hate to think about a time when he'll be gone, I know that it's coming. It could be next month or it could be years from now. The not knowing is hard, harder than I know how to put into words.

So, what I want is to give Alex as many memories as I can, to fill his mind and heart with his Papaw. I want my son to know my father, to remember him and I know that time is limited, so I'll give up some of mine (and some money, too... $3.00/gallon for gas, ack!) to make sure that he does.

That's the big stuff and there are so many more things: my job, my home, cable television, bloggers that make me laugh & make me think, homemade cookies and a million little things that add up to a happy, content life. This year I will savor those things, I will soak them up, I will wallow in the everyday joy. This year I resolve to really live, and love, my life.

1 comment:

  1. RACHEL! Gah! How has it been this many years before I decided I hadn't heard from Jym and you in too long? (And at your current blogposting speed you might not see this for a while either, that's okay, I can wait.) Dave from the gaming stores - still here, same address/phone number, email may be a bit shorter than you remember. YOU HAD KIDS SINGULAR! {sfx: voice saying 'wooooow' in a really stoned-sounding manner}

    Anyway, here because yesterday or so, I got a message on my answering machine from someone saying that (incomprehensible name), (other incomprehensible name), Rachel, & Jym had just been thinking about me and wondering how I was doing. As above, still here! If you want some really boring details, I've started actually USING my LiveJournal, and I think this entry will give you the URL by my name? Hi!

    (...This preview, it no preview. So we'll see how this goes.)