It took almost as long to write this Thanksgiving recap post as it did to get prints of the three-year old birth photos
I've been sitting in my office all day, distracting myself with posting about everything else other than Thanksgiving. There have been strings of thoughts through my mind that could easily work themselves into sentences and then paragraphs and eventually fulfill my feelings that the holiday must be discussed. It has just been difficult to weave it together. More difficult than I imagined.
This makes sense, I suppose, since Thanksgiving was more difficult than I imagined. I tried very hard to convince myself that the near eight-hour road trip with my dad and grandmother sitting in happy silence in the front seats and my mom and I nestled around Lil E in the carseat in the back, would be the beginning of a get-away. I really hoped that the hotel room my boy and I shared that adjoined to my parents' room would give us a bit of a retreat from being long-term guests in their home while also having some support for the inevitable late-night wakings in a strange bed far from home. I so wanted to escape the upheaval that has become our new normal.
That's not what happened. As much as I hate to put these words to keyboard or screen or into the universe, I was - quite honestly - not feeling very grateful. And that's where it began to unravel.
Of course, of course I can look over at my
boy, whether he is snug in his carseat or having a tantrum outburst
that surprises us all or dancing around the living room in his Elmo
undies and rain boots and fire hat, and feel overwhelming thankfulness
for all he is.
When my dad hops up to dance along or gets
down on the floor to play cars or scoops him up from one of those
tantrums to cuddle or make a bowl of cereal, I am full of thanks. When
my mom reads Lil E story after story after story or gets into a PlayDoh
marathon as much as he does or insists on treating me to a break and a
pedicure, I am overcome with appreciation.
On Wednesday night,
after a long drive through Indiana and an increasing desire to sleep in
my own bed -- not a fold-out couch or a cushied-up futon at my parents'
house or even a perfectly soft pillow-top at the hotel, but my own own bed as Lil E would say -- I put aside those most basic and benevolent of blessings.
Thursday, when my aunt's house was full of food and cousins and talk of
engagements, weddings and a baby on the way, I was so deep in myself,
it was hard to enjoy any of it. I wanted to. I so wanted to but being
away seemed to emphasize all that was so close in Chicago, I almost
stopped seeing it.
There were two nearly sleepless nights,
carsickness and time-out sessions that would have Super Nanny shaking
her head. There were tears and tiredness and not nearly enough coffee
or wine or hot water. I focused on how good it would feel to just get
away from getting away and just get home. Or as close to it as we now
I don't want to be one of those bitter people who is glad
Thanksgiving, with all its hope and pie, is over. But I also know that
leaving my marriage and my son's father means a shift in the holidays,
not to mention identity, in how the room and the calendar and the
meaning of it all really looks.
It wasn't until we'd been back in Chicago almost 36 hours when the grace edged in.
it is no real surprise that the door opened while I was sitting legs
crossed, palms open in yoga class. I put my class off a day to run
errands and busy myself after all that self-pity and under-indulgence,
opting for the Sunday morning session instead of my regular Saturday
date with asanas and sore muscles. Whether I was simply sitting in my
sadness on Saturday or really needing to feel productive, I was there
on Sunday and it was what it was.
And what it was is exactly
what I needed. The practice was centered on gratitude, with lots of
out-stretched arms and hands folded over at the heart. There was a
final meditation on receiving and giving comfort and there was
collective deep breathing. The release of tension and replacement with
calm was palpable.
Slowly, slowly over the course of the
hour-and-a-half class, I felt myself let go of the self-doubt and
self-criticism and anger and worry that filled my plate all week. I
felt, happily, grateful.
At the end of class, my teacher invites us to pull an angel card from a bowl of cards that have words like serenity, prosperity, introspection, forgiveness.
The point of these cards is that you may not pull the card you want,
but you will always pull the card you need. Sometimes, as much as I
adore the angel card ritual, I rush through it to get my shoes on, into
the car and back to my weekend. Last Sunday, though, I took a breath,
felt it sink back through my lungs and into my belly, closed my eyes
and pulled a card from the middle of the bowl.
One more breath
and then I looked down at the card. And there it was. Out of sixty or
so cards with beautiful, introspective, challenging, valid messages, I
I took my time pulling on my shoes and
starting up the car. I didn't take the quick way home. Instead, I sat
behind the wheel in weekend traffic down Addison Street and was flooded
by all of the goodness and grace that has come to me in the past few
I thought of the invitations from friends and co-workers
and mere acquaintances to come visit if I needed a break from the
dailiness of breaking up. I thought of the generosity that spread from
San Francisco to Portland to Bellingham to Richmond to DelRay Beach and
to Lil E and I, just to find a small escape with other families.
thought of my tribe of women who have pulled in close to illuminate me
with their resources, prayers, wisdom, laughter, empowerment and light.
I thought of all the cards and calls and even checks to be sure I get a
massage or haircut in.
I thought of the beautiful necklace
that my friend Lara commissioned for me, a therapeutic chain of
amethyst and other stunning stones, that I keep at my neck or in my
pocket as a reminder of all the energy infused by this outpouring of
I even thought of how grateful I am for the time I
did have with a partner who I was, for so long, so so so gooby in love
with, who helped me bring Lil E with all his wonder into this world. I
said a prayer of thanks for the generations of women who've come before
who've parented alone, who've left homes wrought with turmoil, who have
refused to take anyone else's blame, who carved out pathways that I am
only just finding.
There, in the car, I pushed my back against the seat,
gripped my hands on the steering wheel and eased pressure on the pedal.
I was moving forward, full of thanks, at least for this part of the