Monday, February 15, 2010

Lessons in Gratitude

Today would've been little Conner's fourth birthday. Its kind of hard to believe that Kylie and Claire are now almost the age that Dylan and Conner were when he passed away. The "bitter" part of bittersweetly remembering him has almost passed for me. I now remember him almost entirely with smiles.

The greatest gift that Conner gave me, aside from the joy of knowing him and watching him grow, was the gift of being in the moment, every moment, every day and being full of gratitude for that moment. I can honestly say that since watching Conner slip away, I have never taken an hour with my children for granted. I had lost loved ones, people very dear to me, before. But the unexpected death of a small child puts time in perspective much more so than the relatively unsurprising passing of a cherished elder.

For three solid weeks now, at any given moment, two of my kids have been sick. There has been a whole lot of crying and whining. Today I'm the sickest I've been and the culmination of the last few weeks finally just got me. I've had a lot of patience up til today, knowing how miserable they were, but today I was a little snippy. Even at that, I never for a moment lost sight of the fact that they're kids, that I love them and that this long day will be over much quicker than I expected.

I don't take life for granted anymore. My own, my husband's, my kids--anyone's. Its hard in youth and good health not to take life and health for granted. When you suddenly find yourself facing an uphill battle you couldn't possibly have seen coming, all of a sudden that sense of security is taken away from you. I still hope that I'll die an old woman, sleeping peacefully at home, surrounded by my very much alive children and grandchildren, but I don't assume that anymore. I don't constantly worry about my children and I'm certainly not over-protective or some kind of safety nut, but I try to live every day, particularly relative to my husband and children, in a way that ensures that I'm prepared for the next day, but if I don't wake up or one my kids slips away, I can be at peace with how I spent my time with them.

"Carpe diem" meant something much different to me several years ago than it does now. We recently watched "Up" with our kids, and the writers at Pixar deserve every award they get. The little boy says to his aged companion, "Sometimes its the boring stuff I remember most." Motherhood isn't very glamourous. Sometimes, its downright dirty and gross. But its full of those wonderful, little moments that make up the substance of life. I love all those little moments.

I was always tremendously happy. Thanks to Conner, now I know it.

1 comment:

Nate and Annah Butterfield said...

I don't remember where I heard it, but some movie or something said that no one ever tells you how much motherhood makes you think about death, and it's so true. I admire and pray for all of the families out there who have lost their little ones, but I am grateful for the painful reminder that life is precious and what we do with the time we have is so important. And there is really nothing more important than the dirty, icky, wonderful job that is being a good mom.