I blinked and a month flew by. It went too fast and not fast enough, as time has a way of doing. The times when we were sick and sad and slightly miserable seemed to crawl along. The times when we were full of joy and happiness seemed like they were on fast-forward. It hasn't been an easy month. We marked Jameson's fourth Anniversary in Heaven. I really wanted to go to the Grotto for a mass, but we were all too sick. So we stayed home and lit his candle. And cried.
We rang in the new year painting trim and watching Tinkerbell DVD's. A week-ish later I got older and greyer. We had beet and pesto pizza and strawberry rhubarb pie.
There have been a lot of nice little times sprinkled about over the past month but also some sad and worrisome things. I've spent a lot of time reflecting and reading and watching...and feeling overwhelming inadequacy in everything. Mommy guilt, that's the name a book I'm reading gives it. It's the opposite of JOY seeking. And it creeps in when I am tired and blue and kicks me when I'm falling down. And there it threatens to steal all the good from my mind. And I find myself seeing only where I've screwed up everything. The downward spiral can happen so fast once mommy guilt kicks in. And even though I can logically say I know this isn't true, it can be hard to get back up.
Except I know how to fight back even when I'm down in the pit. Everything seems worse and scarier in the dark, but if you can just let a little light in, the mind can get some clarity. Light removes the darkness. So one night when I was feeling especially vulnerable, instead of wallowing and allowing the mommy guilt to sink in, I spoke out in the darkness. I curled into that safe space of our marriage, with his arms around me and I told him how afraid I was that I was screwing up the kids with my imperfect self. And how every negative behavior they seem to have must come from me. And how I haven't been enough for anyone. And he listened and squeezed me and laughed a little at my insanity. Because saying it aloud did sound a little crazy. And together, we spread some light into that dark place and then it wasn't so dark anymore.
And the next day I got up and got out my little green notebook and worked extra hard to count those gifts. The sunrise. The coffee. The laughter spilling out from her belly and filling the whole house with joy. The freckles on his nose. The love he oozes from his soul. The love and commitment he chooses to honor every single day. The coffee. The friend who drops off flowers for no reason. The fridge that can fit three gallons of milk. The dogs snoring all night long. The waffle iron. Fleece sheets. A new warm coat. Stretch leggings. Whipped cream. Red paint. The moon shining bright on a blue sky. A quiet morning alone. A loud morning all together. Cupcakes and red sprinkles. Reading in bed all snuggled together. Whispers of love in the darkness.
The goal is to count a thousand gifts in a year, but there are so many more. Every second of every day. Every breath in and out. Every heartbeat is a gift. Oh to see it all that way, wouldn't that be amazing? The vision to do it? That is not a gift, that is a practice. One that I often fail in. But counting the gifts, seeking the good, it lets the light in. It's worth the effort to try and try again and again and again. Because I don't know much about what the future is going to look like, but I'm going to do my best to make it as bright as possible.