My life has changed in many ways since having a child with a disability. One of the best changes has been developing the survival skill of taking stock.
It’s what we focus on this time of year, counting our blessings and giving thanks.
That noticing, the reminders, the change of perspective, can be a joy but is also a survival skill.
In the worst moments, like last Thanksgiving when gratitude was hard, I muster every last ounce of energy to look for the good. I always find it, sometimes microscopically small, and I set it right in the middle of my mess.
But there are times, though challenges always linger, that I can take stock of my life and be overwhelmed by the abundance of it all.
I’m writing this by the fire in my pellet stove in my beautiful new living room that my community built for our family. I have a mantel over the fireplace and you know what hangs on mantels? Yes, there are stocking hung by my chimney with care already, because I was swept away by my blessings and needed to celebrate. There is room in the hallway for a soft tinsel tree for Aidan to touch each time he motors by. All of this space and comfort is abundant living.
I have a big tall runner in my family now; Sweet Liam full of wisecracking wit. I’m almost too afraid to say it out loud so let me whisper here….I really enjoy my teenager. He uses my words against me in the best way, reminding me to take risks, to use my words, to share details. Apparently he’s been listening to me all of these years. Liam snuggles up with me every night to tuck me in and talk about nothing, which is everything really. This cozy togetherness is abundance.
It’s easy to look at our accessible house and be grateful for each person who believed they had something to give and then gave. Certainly I appreciate the wood and nails holding it all together, but the stories of community make my heart full… abundantly full.
And then there is this… Our building project started with the need for an accessible bathroom for Aidan. Aidan is smart and Aidan can learn. Because we can get Aidan to the bathroom safely now, he’s learned to use it. I know this is a weird conversation but stop and take that in. Because of the limitations of our house, not Aidan’s limitations, he couldn’t go to the bathroom. His life has been changed in a most basic and profound way. Potty talk may not exactly be appropriate for Thanksgiving dinner, but it will be at my house. We’re appreciating the abundance of health and safety in a new way.
And, yes, I know gratitude will be elusive again. Certainly our lives are not without challenges right now. But in this moment, I’m letting the abundance of my blessings seep into my bones and hold me strong for every next moment.
And what are you thankful for this year?