When one has a week or two like I’ve had (one son with a high fever, another son with mild fever, double ear infections, and viral rash, and a husband with strep and Adenovirus 19), it’s ridiculously easy to feel sorry for yourself. Poor me. I haven’t slept in weeks. I can’t focus on anything because I’m so tired. Then I remember that just two years ago, I was sitting in a fertility clinic scared that I’d never get pregnant. These germy, snotty, whiny people are the biggest blessings I’ve ever had. Boogers and all.
It took me until my 30s, but I’ve finally learned that what separates the happy from the miserable is the ability to count your blessings. I know that sounds silly and simple, but I have actually tested this theory (against my will).
Ten years ago I had perspective forced on me in a big, big way. I had ten months of uninterrupted disaster:
- My ex husband asks for a divorce the day before Thanksgiving.
- I get to share the news of the divorce with my family at the holidays. Merry Christmas!
- I lose my job.
- We file for divorce. On Valentine’s Day.
- I shop around for moving companies to get me back home to Maryland. I do my research, and carefully select the one that will make my life a living hell for the next three months.
- I battle the evil moving company. They are holding my belongings hostage while they extort me for more money (which I don’t have and wouldn’t pay if I did). I use my time and unemployment checks to find my things and get them back. I sleep on the floor because I have no bed. I wear the same seven outfits over and over, because those are the only clothes that were not on the moving van. I stay up all night Googling legal and not so legal ways to crush the evil movers and get my stuff back. FBI tells me it is an organized crime ring funneling their illicit moving money to anti-Palestinian efforts in Israel. Of course it is.
- I get the paperwork that my divorce is final. On my birthday.
- Success! Get my things back and evil movers are arrested. I cannot savor the victory for long, because the next day my ex husband calls to tell me that he’s getting married. And that he’s kicking me off his medical insurance to put the new wife on.
- The following week my car window is smashed and the contents of my glove compartment are stolen: 25 cents and an old pair of headphones.
So there I sat: no job, no husband, no worldly possessions, no health insurance, busted car window. After awhile (and many margaritas with girlfriends), I saw it as a gift. I could see what remained. I have an incredible, supportive, fun family. Not only do we love each other, we like each other — a rarity in this world. In fact, having this awesome family is way more than most people have. I’m incredibly lucky. My family and good friends gave me the strength to start over.
Life can really kick you around. If you can blow sunshine up your own skirt, dust yourself off and keep walking, you’re golden. I’m working on an awesome little family of my own now. I think one of the most valuable skills I can give my boys the gift of resilience. If I can do that, I will consider my mothering a success.
If you have trouble finding your sunshine today, I heartily recommend Patty Griffin. This is a love song she wrote for her dog. How can that not make you smile?