Friday, November 18, 2011
1. Autism tops this list. When my oldest was diagnosed almost 14 years ago, I crumbled into a million dysfunctional pieces. I had to say goodbye to nearly all the plans I had laid for my adult life. I had to mourn the loss of the life I dreamed my child would have. But the person that arose from that rubble is living a happier life today than she ever thought possible. I was forced to rebuild and reshape everything and while I hate autism dearly, I am sincerely thankful for the new path I was compelled to find for myself. The rebuilding process was not pretty, however, which brings me to . . .
2. The fallout from the first post-diagnosis year. I went from denial to self-destruct mode, withdrawing from my family and careening around like an adolescent with no boundaries or responsibilities. I have been to the brink of wrecking my life and I still remember the view from the precipice. What I learned from that experience was the single most powerful and sacred lesson of my life. Not only did I return to God and family, I found myself in a very fundamental way.
3. Not having a daughter was a crushing blow that now seems laughable to me. The bitterness I felt when I discovered our last child would be a third son instead of the wished for girl is, well, embarrassing. I can't even remember why I wished for such a thing. I am grateful for the lesson of humility that came from this spell of childishness and call upon it regularly to remind myself to not question why I have received some blessings and not others.
4. While I'm on the topic of that third cherubic now 2-year-old, I have to give thanks for the many, many sleepless nights and napless days he has put me through. For all the times I had to endure other moms gushing over babies who napped for 3 hours and slept for 12 every night; for all the nights I woke up for the 5th time; for all the times I got him settled in his crib only to have him wake 10 minutes later, I have struggled, but never despaired. Even at 3 am I have given thanks for this child who makes my life difficult all while batting those big blue eyes at me. There are so many mothers in the world in real pain--mothers whose children are severely impaired, mothers whose children are sick or suffering, mothers whose children have died. I give thanks to those mothers for sharing that perspective with me.
5. Last, but not least, I must express my gratitude for the unending piles of laundry, dirty dishes, and clutter that I battle on a daily basis. Perhaps I will one day conquer them, but for now they are constant reminders of a home full of life and a life of plenty.