October is over and since we have one last Hallowe-en bash tomorrow night I will wait until Saturday to compile an all-inclusive Hallowe’en-y post. We had such a fun night. But now it is NOVEMBER! Already! Again! Hooray! (*Don’t worry Michelle, I have not forgotten the SA/wedding recap, I promise I will get back to them soon )
I look forward to November every year for two reasons, 1) it is the month that holds my favourite weekend of the year 2) because a few years ago I stole the idea of a friend to make this a month where I chose 5 things to write about each day for which I am grateful. Shockingly enough, this makes me feel happier. It shifts my whole focus from what I don’t have and how life has done me wrong and owes me more, to what great abundance I do enjoy and how very, very blessed I am. It always makes me wonder why I don’t do this every day.
As I lay in bed this morning thinking about what I am grateful for today, I thought about our cute small town, where you know you will see several people you know, wherever you go, where we have police officer whom all the kids know as “Officer Robin”. I love that we have Officer Robin. I know it seems random. I don’t have frequent brushes with the law. I guess I am just grateful that I live in a place where we have an “Officer Robin” whom all the children know and love. It reminds me of a cozy, retro children’s book. She is a frequent and popular feature at my kids’ schools (she runs the DARE program), she helps coach Gracie’s soccer team and she is just a familiar, pretty face around town. She embodies everything that is good about living in a small town and everything that is good in humanity. She quietly does good for so, so many people and she inspires others to do good. Kids do not fear her, but they like and respect her and she makes them want to behave. So that was number one. Hooray for Officer Robin (who I hope does not find this terribly creepy if she ever reads this, because frankly if I were her..I’m not sure I would not.)
In keeping with the spirit of gratitude for our community, here comes 2, 3, 4 and 5
2. My kids’ school-teachers. This week Gracie is at 5th grade camp. Ironically Gracie, a child who struggles almost daily with an extreme phobia of bad weather, went to a 5 day camp during the storm of the century. This of course led to some very rough nights during which her teacher stayed by her side, called and texted me frequently and was totally invested in making the right decisions for making this as easy on her as possible. Said teacher I am sure was thoroughly exhausted and overwhelmed but remained patient and cheerful. My kids have always been blessed with teachers who have gone over and above to make life easier for them when they were going through hard times and they have made all the difference to our family. Teachers are amazing.
3. My kids’ coaches. My kids have been blessed with wonderful caring coaches. Gracie’s coach frequently drives her and other kids to and from far-flung games, good naturedly dealing with the incredible noise volume when she does, she takes them out for meals on the way and has sleepover parties for the team at her apartment. She goes to every practice and game and stays kind and encouraging regardless of how the team performs. She puts up with a group of loud and often silly girls with grace. At the end of this year’s season her coaches put together a beautiful t-shirt for the team. Gracie adores her coaches. Because of them, her team has become a real sisterhood, which is a beautiful and valuable thing for girls of their age. Finny’s coach is demanding but equally caring and affectionate. Finny frequently tells me in amazement how good his coach is because he worries about their safety in lots of little ways as well as their performance. My heart smiles when he ruffles Finny’s hair or squeezes his shoulder when Finny comes off the field. Gabe’s coach is also the head coach of men’s soccer at our university. He is highly respected and has an incredibly hectic schedule. He makes a fraction of the money he could make coaching for other teams by coaching our team but he does it because he cares about the local community and he is totally committed to our team. He emphasizes playing good soccer and having integrity above all else. He would far rather the kids lose playing good soccer than win playing a dirty or sloppy game. He has gone to great lengths to encourage Gabe personally and build his confidence in himself. Coaches have so much power for good or evil and I am so grateful for these good people.
4.My kids’ church leaders. My kids are blessed with wonderful leaders and teachers at church who truly care about them and love them. Even though Aaron and I are without extended family close by, because of our church community wherever we go, we have never been without a village of moral support when it comes to raising our kids righteously. Their leaders have been true friends to them, and when their tenure as teacher or leader ends, they remain stalwart supporters and friends to them. One of things that makes me sad is that I don’t have many people who remember me as a child. I don’t have a lifelong history with many people. My fond hope for my children is that some of these same people will attend their weddings and baby-showers, who can tell them “I remember when you were..” stories and celebrate how far they have come in their lives. Even if we do one day move far away from these people, though, their influence will always be a part of my kids’ history.
5. Our family of friends. We have wonderful friends. Such wonderful friends. They keep our show on the road. If you ever wonder how this particular mom of five does it all, the easy is answer is that I don’t. Our friends do a good portion of it. Without our willing friends, we could have never had four kids playing travel soccer. Our friends are also so much of the spice of our life. They help us make memories and are part of many of our traditions. They are kind and generous in every possible way without compare, they are gracious hosts and thoughtful guests. They are easy-going and non-judgmental. They are supportive and patient. They give advice without guile or agendas. They don’t keep score, they are not easily offended, they are forgiving. They are funny. They are down to earth. They celebrate our successes and mourn our bad fortune. They are available in any emergency, at any time of the day or night. They are incredibly community minded and they sacrifice a great deal to build and support our community. They are good examples. They are surrogate parents when they need to be. They are local (and local-ish) grandparents. They genuinely care about the wellbeing, happiness and success of our kids. They let us hunker in their basements when tornado sirens go off. They happily host our parties when the guest list exceeds the space available in our doll-house, they quietly and willingly do all the work to carry out my whims and inspirations. They never tire of giving us dishwashing tabs and cans of cream of mushroom soup on Sunday afternoons…(or if they do, they do not let on ; ) They bring food and treats. They say the right things, almost all of the time. They are not passive aggressive or competitive. They listen. They reassure. They cheer. They build-up. They inspire. They rock. I am undeserving of them but eternally grateful.
And that is my very verbose beginning to November. I made all sorts of lofty goals last night and this morning almost all of which I have already broken (grrr….. Hallowe’en candy!) How about you? What are you grateful for?