Today is I am feeling grateful. This morning I dropped the last of our holiday visiting relatives off at the airport and I can finally breathe. Tomorrow I may wake up to cloudy weather, seasonal depression and a deep hatred for my job…but not today.
Let me explain...
The following questions have been asked hundreds of times over the past 5 weeks:
1. What are we doing for lunch?
2. What are we doing for dinner?
3. Where are the ------- (insert any item you find in your kitchen here)?
4. I hope I am not a bother but could you (insert any task that makes you crazy here)?
5. Which towel, sponge, bowl, etc would you like me to use?
6. Where is your husband?
And my favorite comment that family members make while visiting:
“I don’t remember my kids ever doing that when they were this age?”
But now that I put that down, let me get back to my overwhelming feeling of gratefulness that I have today. Yes, one of the obvious reasons I feel so happy is that they are all gone…and they went far…back to the East Coast. Yet the real reason I am so happy is that (almost) every minute of those visits was wonderful for my kids and me. It takes having everyone leaving, deflating the blow up beds, washing sheets and towels, cleaning out the fridge and recovering from those wonderful family arguments to really begin to look back and realize you wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, along with the every song by Journey and Air Supply, the following things are what I am truly grateful for:
1. My Husband: Although my husband went mute and suspiciously needed to work “extra” hours while our family was visiting, I fell in love with him all over again. After spending so much time with our families, we were again reminded that we are doing pretty well considering where we came from. He is a good man and I feel very lucky to have him in my life (this blog will treat him kindly…the man deserves a break)
2. My mother-in-law is an amazing woman. She made wonderful meals, spent quality time with my kids and fed them gummy bears and Oreo cookies before 8am. During one of our late night talks, we discussed the fact that sex is supposed to keep getting better for women as they age. She wanted both my husband and I to realize that mothers (including our own) are sexual beings just like everyone else. It was an extremely awkward conversation but the large glass of Merlot made it bearable. After our little discussion, she gave me a gift certificate to a fully nude Korean spa in downtown LA. She had gone earlier that day and just loved the experience. Between my mother-in-law giving me a nudist spa treatment, and my father-in-law giving me a Victoria Secret gift card a few years earlier, it has become clear that there are at least 3 people in this world who want me to have more sex with my husband (just to be clear, I am not on that list)
3. My brother-in-law celebrated his second year of sobriety. He is flourishing in his new life and more importantly was able to host his mother for dinner at HIS house for the first time in 10 years. This in turn gave me a night off as he helped share the joy of entertaining her. His sobriety is great; the fact that I didn’t have to do dishes one night…even better.
4. My 87 year-old Grandma came out to visit for the second time and we had a wonderful visit. Even though she says she prays that God will take her soon and told me she feels useless and unloved, I still can’t get enough of that old lady. At one point I had her take two Advil (her knee was killing her) along with a Bloody Mary and she accused me of trying to kill her. But then, after swallowing the pills like an expert, she said the truth was she would love to die, but just not in front of the kids and me. What a class act! She continues to make me laugh and always makes me feel like the most beautiful, talented, and amazing person on the planet...p.s. she still slips money in my purse and tells me to buy something for myself because I deserve it.
5. My mom and I got along really well and enjoyed the holidays together. She kept any rude or mean comments about my house, parenting, and/or entertaining abilities to herself. She only said one thing about my decorations when she mentioned that the front yard looked a bit 'white trash' and that the “mechanical deer on the lawn was pushing it.” This time, I even agreed with her. A highlight of the holidays was when she gave me a Breathalyzer for Christmas. I took this as a sign that she believed being her daughter could be hard; therefore I had every right to get hammered while out drinking with my friends. She just wanted to make sure I was sober or would instead take a cab. Now that is a great mom!
6. My brother and his fiancé Skyped us over the holiday and I realized how happy I am to be getting a sister this year. As I watched my brother and his new family sit calmly on the other side of the computer, I prayed that they would have children soon. Of course I want nieces and nephews, but the truth is it would be nice not to be the only ones spending Christmas morning listening to kids scream things like “PUT MY TUTU BACK ON” and “I HATE BOOKS, THIS IS THE WORSTEST CHRISTMAS EVER!”
7. My sweet dad is happier than ever and enjoyed this holiday with an addition to his family, a golden retriever named Trooper. He has always loved animals (some may say more than people at times) and it was nice to see he had adopted another lucky dog. Sometimes when he is with my kids, he pats his leg or does a bird whistle when he wants their attention. The new dog will probably make this problem worse but what can you say, the man loves animals. While he and I talked on the phone during the holidays, he just laughed when I told him the stories of the family drama unraveling 3,000 miles away. I used to want him to be here, but now I realize he is exactly where he needs to be.
8. My aunt is a saint. When I think about love, I think about her. She listens to me, she makes me laugh, and she is just about the greatest person on Earth. She helped me fix my breakfast nook and helped my husband rewire his outdoor speakers, both things we valued immensely. She played trains with my son for 5 hours and has a relationship with my daughter that is beautiful to watch. Most importantly she watched my kids when I went out with my friends to the greatest gay bar in West Hollywood. And although I didn’t come home until 2:30am, she didn’t say a word. She must have known how much I needed a night out dancing with beautiful men that wanted nothing to do with me.
So on this day when I sit alone at Starbucks, truly alone for the first time in a while, I smile and think about how good life is. Sometimes it takes a little bit of reflection, the help of a babysitter, and a beautiful sunny day to make you realize it doesn’t really get any better than this. Happy January, it is going to be another great year!