In this midst of infertility and not-yet-successful adoption, it can be hard to find things to be thankful for. I mean, I am looking at the consult for my hysteroscopy to figure out what the hell is going on in there this coming week, there's no profile opportunities to be seen, everyone asks for updates which I appreciate but it's hard when there's no update to give, and I am just TIRED. Plus the whole political climate thing that can bring a body way, way down.
But, two weeks ago in my co-taught English class there was a journal assignment...25 things you're thankful for. For some of my students it was easy, and ironically for some who have A LOT to be thankful for, it was hard. 25 things...I guess it is a pretty lengthy list! I thought I would give it a try. Spoiler alert: Infertility itself is NOT on this list.
1) My husband, Bryce, who loves me truly unconditionally and with a ferocity that at times I fear I don't deserve.
2) Bryce's baking abilities, which include making things like gluten free coconut custard pie and a pumpkin pie with stovetop custard involving candied yams as well. Come ON. So yummy.
3) My house. Even though we are running out of space and Bryce hits his head on the regular, it is warm and cozy and provides us with shelter and conveniences.
4) My job. I am so lucky to love what I do -- it's hard, that's true, but to have a job that is also a way of life and to feel like it's not just a job but a passion...so lucky.
5) My cats. Even Abner, the gross one who's currently sneezing everywhere (although perhaps I'm a smidge less thankful for him and the way he marks our home with his bodily materials). They are cozy, and Lucky sleeps next to me like a teddy bear and has grown resigned to me holding him like a baby. It's the little things.
6) My best friend's drives to yoga, because it gives us time to talk without interruption (a rarity when she's home since she has three kids 10 and under).
7) My best friend. She's known me since I was four, and we've been really really good friends since sophomore year of high school. Our lives are so different now, but we still get each other and make it a point to visit each other in person at least once per season. Actually, we're due for a visit...
8) My family. We don't always see eye to eye, but they are supportive and loving.
9) My ridiculous book collection. I love that I have, no joke, at least 20 books (probably way more) in the house that I haven't read yet, and thousands that I have. I can see them and return to them like old friends. I can shop for a book in my own home. It's lovely.
10) Bryce's ability to build bookshelves. Hint, hint, hint. Not sure where another one would go, but if we can make space he can make a beautiful piece of furniture!
12) My work friends. They see me probably more than anyone else, and appreciate (or at least tolerate?) my tendency to break into song when I'm tired or make inappropriate comments or jokes. They also get when teaching gets you bone tired or when you just need to vent.
13) My violin. I ignored it for a little while there, but I've been playing it more lately and I just appreciate so much the gift that was given about twenty years ago by both my parentals when I was in college. It's a beautiful instrument.
14) Being asked to play the fiddler in the play. It made me practice more, and it introduced me to a whole slew of kids I wouldn't have gotten to know otherwise. It made me brave.
13) Book club. The fact that I joined a club where I only knew my next door neighbor and now I have all these friends who are in totally different worlds than me (they work in finance and corporate things) but we are all linked by a love of reading and interesting books. And food. But mostly, the books. We seriously do a good job of actually discussing the book, and discussing it hard.
15) My garden. It's buried under snow, but I love the colorful, bee-filled chaos that is my garden. I love that it's wild. I love that it's more pollinator-based and less design-based.
16) Weeding. Out of season, but man I love weeding. So calming, and you can see progress pretty quickly. A satisfying chore.
17) My Dyson animal hair vacuum. Seems a silly thing to be thankful for, but holy hell does that do a good job picking up the cat hair two cats produce. Sort of like weeding, but with cat hair. I love vacuuming with it because you can just SEE how clean everything is after. (But also how quickly schmutz re-accumulates.)
18) My (relatively) new kitchen. Knocking down that wall and tying everything in to the dining room made our small house seem so much bigger, without an addition. And it's SO FUNCTIONAL. Love it.
19) Trader Joe's fruit jellies. They are just SO GOOD.
20) My friends I've had since college. They make me laugh, they encourage shenanigans, they understand when things are crappy.
21) This blog. It helps me process, it helps me connect to people who have had similar journeys to me and also very different experiences. It gives me perspective. It gives me an outlet. It helps me make sense of things I'll never truly make sense of, not totally. It helps me to see light at the end of various tunnels.
22) The community I've gotten to know -- people going through infertility, people parenting after infertility, people who've endured unimaginable losses, people who've adopted, people who are adopting, people who are living childfree not by choice. I am so, so grateful to you for your friendship and viewpoints and insight and support.
23) My sense of humor. The ability to laugh through things that should just make me cry all the time, the ability to give our circumstances the finger and enjoy life anyway.
24) The love I have for my husband, through all the things we have been through. Through every disappointment, every loss, every crushing blow, every small whittling of the dream that comes so easily to some but not to us. I am so lucky for our love.
25) The strength and perseverance I have within me that wasn't given by infertility but was there all along and given the chance to flourish in the face of adversity. The strength to fight for the possibility of a family, and to say enough when the time is right (to infertility treatment, and hopefully not to the possibility of adoption). There are times when I wonder if we push too hard, but I will never, ever have to wonder if we did enough.
Okay, I admit it...that was actually harder than I thought. 25 things is a LOT. (I want to add that of course I am grateful for food to eat and clean water and clothing to protect me from the cold...I didn't include those because I went in order without stopping, stream-of-consciousness style, and they seemed givens, but those are not givens. I am very grateful for the accident of my birth and the series of events that led me to live in a nice, fruitful area of New York.)
It's good to think on gratefulness from time to time, especially when it seems that life is so unfair, and to really think on all the things that are good and nurturing and helpful--all the things little and not-so, that really make that silver lining a plush thick one.