Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Reasons to be Thankful
By Tamra Norton
(Author's Note: I wrote this little piece seven years ago when I first started writing seriously. Back then, I had six kids ages 2 to 15. Now I have seven "babies" ranging from 5 to 22. Of those, three are in college. This little piece originally appeared in my family life column called The Home Front in The Fort Bend Sun Newspaper. I'll always be thankful for this newspaper. They were the first to pay me for my writing. It wasn't much, but made be feel validated in my effort.)
Even though I often feel frustrated, unappreciated, and just a little bit grumpy, I have much to be thankful for. It’s usually not until the end of the day (when everyone who calls me Mommy, or regularly spits up on me is peacefully asleep) that I have the opportunity to take stock of my life and count my blessings.
I’m thankful for the fingerprints. You know, the peanut-buttery ones that end up smudged all over the TV screen, the lower third of the backyard sliding glass door, inside the car windows, and all over the glass coffee table that I bought in a fleeting moment of insanity.
You see, I realize that the same little fingers that made all of those smudges are the same ones that I kissed as they gripped tightly to my giant finger when we first met. Today those fingers are a little bit bigger, and they only grip that tightly when we are in an unfamiliar setting. The tight grip tells me that I am depended on—trusted in. And no one else will adequately suffice in taking my place.
I’m thankful for the sleepless nights. First it was the frequent nighttime feedings which I thought would never end. But they did, only to be followed my awakenings due to “thirst attacks,” scary dreams and the inevitable bouts with croup and fever. If I had the power within me during those times of illness, I would somehow take on my children’s pain so they wouldn’t have to endure it. It is often in the middle of the night that a mother is reminded of her unconditional love for her children.
I’m thankful for piles of dirty laundry. Well, the sorting and washing I could do without, but it is during the monotonous task of folding that I realize just how fast these little tykes are growing. As I hold up a faded Ninja Turtle tee shirt—still a favorite article of play clothes—I see a succession of little blond boys who have taken their turn wearing this beloved shirt. I think it may have even made its way to the trash can once or twice, only to be plucked from it’s doomed fate by a treasure-seeking four-year-old. As I look at this old shirt, I vow to be an influential part, each day, in the lives of my rapidly growing children.
Lastly, I’m thankful for the crayon marks on the walls. Now, you must think me insane because any mother knows that short of a Martha Stewart-miracle, it’s impossible to get rid of crayon marks. You can rub, scrub, and wipe them with your tears if you like, but nothing can remove the mark of a red Crayola from a white surface. And as the assorted marks on my walls, nothing can remove the impact that my children have had on my life, and hopefully, I on theirs.
Some day my children will be grown and gone. Perhaps they will even call me wanting to know how to get rid of crayon marks from white walls. I’ll tell them to rearrange the furniture, or pick out a new color scheme for the house. Then I’ll tell them to break out the coloring books, sit down on the floor with their little ones and try to remember what it was like to be little again.