Two years ago, I wrote about being grateful for the knowledge that comes with a celiac diagnosis, and more than that, for the simple gift of being present at Thanksgiving, instead of being in the hospital.
Last year, I wrote about being grateful for the amazing blessing of my newborn baby girl, and for all the dedicated health care professionals, advanced technology, and support that allowed both of us to make it. I also wrote about how complicated an emotion gratitude can be when to comes to serious illness.
Here we are, twelve months later.
Motherhood. In the best way possible, it throws all the pieces of you up in the air and when they settle back down to the ground, they are forever rearranged. Family illness, work, writing a Book, (and yes, that’s a capital “B” in my head)—in ways less luminous and more wearying, they also throw up the pieces of me, the pieces that make up us, and reconfigure them all.
And here I am, a year since my last gratitude post, a year removed from the immediacy of birth and the physicality of newborn-hood. A year removed from the decision to re-structure the whole book, and now some 85,000 words in a new direction. A year and six classes and multiple committees removed from the end of maternity leave. A year of negotiations and boundaries and compromises that accompany being a mother and a daughter, a patient and a caregiver.
Amid so many changes, I am at extremes (as usual).
I find myself grateful for the smaller details, noticing them in more vivid technicolor than the pale backdrop of daily life: a chuckle over the monitor; an unsolicited hug. An unexpectedly light commute that means I am home earlier to play; unseasonably warm weather that means one more day at the playground. Putting on my headphones and squeezing in some revision hours; finishing the very last paper of a deluge. Making time to try a new recipe; eating dinner in the dining room together because that makes a Wednesday night something better than. The magic of a Thursday night, when the meat of the week is behind me. Coffee with a friend. A clean house.
And the much bigger stuff: To witness my husband take a risk and follow his dream, so that when he tells our daughter to do that some day, it will not ring hollow. To able to work on a book that explores questions I didn’t know the answers to, because really what more can a nonfiction writer ask for?
And the biggest thing of all, the thing that is immeasurable, the thing that still makes me catch my breath in the grocery store aisle and smile to myself when I think of a certain smile: grateful to be somebody’s mother, grateful to be her mother.