Thankful

So, I originally started this post out with this graph:

Last night as I was showering, I found myself momentarily overcome with happiness. Our small family of three had a wonderful weekend -the kind of elastic weekend that stretches inexplicably, allowing for a visit from an out of town guest, one grand sleep-in, staying up late to watch a movie, as well as the weekend chores that must be accomplished when both parents work during the week. Our house was warm, we were expecting some of our favorite friends over for dinner, and I found myself so terribly grateful – grateful for a wonderful husband, my high-spirited, independent daughter and for the little boy knocking around inside me – his constant kicking and stretching a regular reminder of his impending arrival.this is what happiness is, I thought, and I said a spontaneous prayer of thanks. I thanked God for good books and warm beds and for recognizing that while sometimes I want more…more money to travel and decorate my home and spend, spend, spend – my needs have always been easily met.

but as I continued writing, I realized the above graph is really the conclusion (or near conclusion, at any rate), not the beginning, of this post. So I’m going to try this again, with the end as beginning and the beginning as the end.

I’ve struggled a bit emotionally throughout this pregnancy. Not about expanding our family – I am thankful every day to have another child, another baby – for Grace to grow up with a sibling instead of as an only child. Instead, I’ve struggled with other issues – some very concrete and real, like handling the inequality with which my in-laws treat me and realizing I’ll never have the large, loving extended family of my dreams (as a side note, if you ever find yourself thinking it’s a legitimate point to make that “all your boyfriends’ mom and dads LOVED you and would have been thrilled to have you as part of their family) to your husband, it’s time for, at the very least, a nice long walk, although a touch of therapy probably couldn’t hurt either. Other emotions I’ve struggled with are more self-generated and run along the lines of everybody’s life is moving along without me while I sit at home pregnant! I’ve also had to face some very concrete truths about myself and my job, and come to the realization that I am not considered a top-tier talent within my organization. This has been a rather depressing realization, first of all because I feel this is something I’ve battled against my whole life – I’ve always been considered “very good” at whatever I was doing, whether that’s acting or writing or public relations – but never possessed that intangible talent that pushes you to the next level. Second of all, when I consider the amount of hard work and dedication I’ve poured into the my job over the last five years when I could have been leaving at five o’clock and pursuing other interests, well, it’s better to just not go there.

I once had a boss who told me, for working women, there are constantly three “balls in the air” that need to be managed – family, work and health – and at no time do all three of those balls balance perfectly. Receive a promotion to do your dream job? Your dad comes down with cancer. Entire family healthy and happy and getting along? A new vice-president comes in and wants to clean house with the staff. Job and family both rolling along smoothly? Expect a plague of chronic sinus infections with no identifiable cure. It’s just the way life works, she explained – so keep trying to balance those balls and have fun along the way. It’s proven to be one of the truest things anyone has ever said to me, and I still return to her advice on how to get through it all when I find myself muddled – I just try and do the right thing, in each instance, in every day.

What I’ve started practicing, lately, is attempting to breathe, and let go. I want this pregnancy to be my last and plan to take steps to make sure that it is, so I want to make sure I allow myself the time to enjoy these last few months, to revel in the kicks and flips my little boy is capable of performing. I also want to enjoy our time together during my maternity leave, having learned so much from my first one, and I want to take the time to establish our “new normal.” All of this means ignoring two innate instincts – my natural competitiveness that tells me if I can’t break through the glass ceiling in my current position, it’s time to find a new one, and letting go of my need for everyone to be happy (and, let’s face it – for everyone to like me).

I was talking with a good friend about all of this recently – about slowing down, and reprioritizing my life somewhat – she finds herself in the same place. Together, we wondered why we feel so much guilt about our decision to slow down, even spend a little more time at home and less time at work. Maybe it’s because we’ve been encouraged for so long to achieve, we reasoned…you get good grades in school so you can get into a “good” college and pursue your dreams, you then pursue your dreams and bust your ass climbing upward, and for many people this works out really, really well. For others, like my friend and me – well, we see possibility in pausing the insanity for a bit…taking a step back, evaluating where we are and where we would like to go.

This is a pretty big change for me, and one that doesn’t feel entirely natural, but I’ve also found myself opening up more and discovering pure pockets of happiness lately in a way I haven’t in a really long time. For instance, last night as I was showering, I found myself momentarily overcome with happiness. Our small family of three had a wonderful weekend -the kind of elastic weekend that stretches inexplicably, allowing for a visit from an out of town guest, one grand sleep-in, staying up late to watch a movie, as well as the weekend chores that must be accomplished when both parents work during the week. Our house was warm, we were expecting some of our favorite friends over for dinner, and I found myself so terribly grateful – grateful for a wonderful husband, my high-spirited, independent daughter and for the little boy knocking around inside me – his constant kicking and stretching a regular reminder of his impending arrival.this is what happiness is, I thought, and I said a spontaneous prayer of thanks. I thanked God for good books and warm beds and for recognizing that while sometimes I want more…more money to travel and decorate my home and spend, spend, spend – my needs have always been easily met.

So this Thanksgiving, I am thankful, not just for having what is, truly enough, but for the ability to recognize that it IS enough, and I’m also thankful for flexibility, and patience, and the moments of time that seem to move too slowly, because they are unusual and precious and provide more opportunity for introspection and thoughtfulness than all fast-moving, on demand quick thinking days and weeks that come before.

Advertisements

8 thoughts on “Thankful

  1. Learning to recognize what’s enough is one of the greatest gifts in the world.

    It’s interesting to watch how my own celebrations of holidays has changed. Just today I sorted through all of the Christmas decorations and took a good half to the charity resale shop. What’s left requires little effort to put out and arrange, but they’re enough. Each piece, each ornament, has a history and memories attached. What more do we need?

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

  2. Having children does force one to reassess, though the wonderful thing is that you do get ongoing chances in the world of work – if you want them. As one busy working at my second chance, I can attest that most people identified as top talents are a) somewhat psychopathic, and this post and all your others clearly demonstrate that you are not or have b) sacrificed something along the way. Either they never see their family, or they don’t have one, or they never see their friends, or they have none. Being wedded to the job is their choice, just as having opportunity for being grateful, for being introspective and letting time happen slowly for you is yours. (And mine!)

  3. What a great Thanksgiving post! I can relate with all the issues, I guess it’s part of being 30-something to make reasonable choices (vs. idealist and perfectionist ones) and to settle down into your own balance (or juggling act). This word of settling down makes me cringe because it often seems that “down” goes with mediocre, but I don’t think you can be competitive on all fields all the time for all your life. So really “good enough” is my new ideal (while fighting my natural tendencies to perfectionism and all the stress associated with it).

  4. Oh I have so much sympathy with every part of this post. My mother has always been so difficult and demanding, so why on EARTH have I ended up with a mother-in-law who is even more judgmental, and has no qualms about telling me exactly what she thinks of me? It doesn’t seem fair. And I feel guilty every time I make my husband see her alone, but the older I get, the less I feel willing to put myself in the line of someone else’s fire. And oh yes, I felt so desperate about having to slow down and drop out of the competition. Chronic fatigue made me, nothing else had. But I did feel much better when I wasn’t in that frantic mode. There is nothing so sweet and meaningful as gently reflective time, it turns out. Now I seem to have gone too far in the other direction and life is rather empty at present. It’s something I just have to sit with for a while (not that I’m doing that with any grace whatsoever). Finally, as for your work situation, I want to say ‘pearls before swine’. If they don’t appreciate you, they are MAD and you should find someone who does. You’re such a gifted and generous person, brilliant at so many things. They simply don’t deserve you.

  5. Shoreacres- exactly! One of the things that surprises me the most is how much people want me to cram Christmas down G’s throat…has she seen this movie? Are you decorating cookies yet? etc. etc…like she has to go through every holiday tradition immediately, instead of allowing them to unfold over the course of several years.

    Charlotte – thank you so much! I know realistically I don’t have the constitution or desire to be wedded to my job – it’s important for me to keep this in mind moving forward with any decision I make!

    Smithereens – you are absolutely correct – you can’t win at all things all the time! For now i feel drawn more toward caring for my family and my home and providing a huge sense of love and security, but I have to confess I’m surprised by this desire!

    Jen – love you!!

    Litlove – thank you so much for the empathy AND the pep talk! Both worked wonders…especially your thoughts on work. I know this year has been a difficult one for you – I am hoping 2014 brings you everything your beautiful spirit deserves!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s