As I’m writing, this week is halfway through. To be honest, it’s been a halfway kind of week, if there is such a thing. Halfway done tasks, halfway attention given, and halfway cooked suppers. (If tortillas with cheese slapped on them count as true quesadillas, then call me cook of the month.)
It’s been hard to find joy in the middle of it all. It’s felt like a swirling vortex of events sucking every bit of life out of me. It’s felt a little bit like a life flying too fast before me, as I struggle to juggle all the balls. I’ve tossed balls out of the mix, trying to downsize our schedule. I’ve accidentally dropped other balls, only to pick them up again, dust them off, and try to do it better.
November is thankful month in our house. We write down things we are thankful for, and we read them on Thanksgiving Day before all the family comes over for lunch. (Don’t give me credit for this idea. It was in a parenting magazine I read years ago. And if one more person calls me supermom this week, I’m going to burst into tears. All I can see right now are the messy moments and clutter-filled chaos we are calling life.)
I read today what we wrote so many years ago and put into our “forever thankful” jar. Over and over again, my kids wrote they were thankful for me and their dad. Honestly, they might just have been too young to think of anything else, and mom and dad are the easiest words to spell. But at this moment, in this beautiful mess of life, I need to cling to a little bit of that thankfulness. I am thankful for all six kids (4 biological, 1 almost adopted, and 1 foster). The jump from four to six barely feels noticeable at times, and then at other moments feels like the weightiest thing I’ve ever tried to attempt.
A stranger stopped me at Rouses the other day. “You understand family,” she said as she introduced herself. “I read what you write, and you get it.” She had tears in her eyes as she spoke to me. She appeared older than me, with children long out of the house, only occasionally returning for visits to a place they once called home.
Mine still call our house their home, for that I’m thankful. It will change one day, and my heart will be sad and my hands will finally be still. Our home is their home right now and I’m thankful it’s that way. It’s a place where we are making memories. And messes. If they beg me to make homemade slime one more time, I’m just gonna crawl into a hole and hibernate.
“To everything there is a season,” says the writer of Ecclesiastes. They’re my everything. These people are my everything. And this is my season for my everything. So this month, the thankful month, I write each of their names on a slip of paper, reminding myself how thankful I am for each of them. They each bring something different to our family and to our home. We have gifted smarty pants, goofy class clowns, soccer showoffs, and everything in between.
“This is Us” has nothing on us. This IS our “This is Us.” This is your us. It probably doesn’t look like our “this is us.” And it shouldn’t. But it’s your us. So embrace it. Be thankful for it.
My laugh lines have deepened, and somewhere inside my soul, there’s a spot for some sorrow that will never be fully erased that raising this family has etched into me in ways that are unexplainable and out of my control. I’ve learned that great joy and great sorrow sometimes go hand in hand. One without the other is not really possible.
I’m thankful for my people, this month and every month. And may they make less slime and more mess-free memories. Amen.