My original plan with this thirty days of thankful thing was to hold off on doing the really obvious ones until later in the month. But, then I started thinking that people would think I'm doing them in order of importance....and I don't want people thinking that my kids, family, and Hubby are not very important to me. So, I figure it just safer to go ahead and get the really important ones done first.
So, today, I am thankful for my children.
Creating life is a blessing and a miracle. Being able to know that I gave life to three wonderful and amazing children is a very awesome feeling. One thing I never want to take for granted is how thankful I am to have them in my life.
I have heard other parents say, and even been guilty of telling my kids, how thankful they should be to their parents ... because we were the ones that put them on this earth. But, the truth is, it should be the other way around. They had no say in the matter. They didn't ask for it. So I should spend each and every day showing them how thankful I am to have them in my life.
They are my gifts. My creations. And should be taken care of accordingly.
They owe me nothing. I chose to bring them here, it's my responsibility to ensure that their life is filled with joy, happiness, and love.
But, each and every day, they fill me with more joy, happiness, and love than I could ever imagine. How a person can hold so much love for three people is absolutely incredible.
These three little bundles of happiness have taught me more in the few years they've been on this planet than I could ever imagine teaching them. I often thought it was a parent's duty to teach them right from wrong, good from evil, happiness from sadness, morals, ethics, honesty, responsibility, and how to show true love.
But I was wrong.
They ended up teaching me those things. Or should I say, a deeper level to those things that I didn't know existed.
From the minute my Peanut was handed to me on the delivery table, something released in my heart. A feeling so strong and powerful, that it took the wind right out of me. A combination of happiness, fear, excitement, and unconditional love. I knew in that instant that I would devote my life to protect this beautiful little angel that I held in my arms. I would shield her from harm. I would kiss every scrape and boo-boo. I would hold her when she cried. I would hold her when she laughed. And she would forever on, from that moment, be my baby. The most important thing to ever come in to my life.
Just a mere eleven months later, I lay on another delivery table. And worried. How on earth would I be able to feel such elation and feelings that I had felt the first time around? But, I did. The exact same, heart racing, tear inducing, overwhelming sense of emotions surged through my body as my little boy lay in my arms.
It didn't change any of the feelings I had for Peanut, the feelings were just doubled.
And, then six years later, I would discover that the feelings I had felt twice over were about to be tripled. Another beautiful baby girl was laid in to my arms....and the explosion of emotions were there again. Once again, intensifying, not replacing any that were felt before.
I have often heard women explain their reasoning for only having one or two children being that they only have so much love in their heart, and they don't want to have to "share" it among too many children.
Well, I can account that there is absolutely NO sharing of love between my children. Each child just grew my love. Made more of it. A mother's heart knows no bounds. There is always room for more love.
For the past thirteen years, I've tried my best to be the best mother I could be.
It hasn't always been easy. I haven't always made the best decisions. I have sacrificed to provide for them. I have fought hard to give them a good life. Often mistaking possessions as a sign of love. It took me a while to realize that spending time with them is a lot more meaningful than the latest and greatest video game. It took me a while to realize that my children wouldn't hate me if they didn't get everything they asked for, and that all they really wanted was a mother who was there when they went to school, there when they came home, and was the one to put them to bed.
I spent the first few years of Peanut and Butter's life raising them alone. I did everything in my power to ensure a comfortable roof over their heads, clothes on their back, and food in their tummies. I worked long hours, sometimes only being home long enough to feed them dinner and get them in to bed. But, you can bet your bottom dollar than when my days off rolled around, the last thing I thought about was sleeping or missing out on making every moment with them count.
Jelly came along in the beginning of my pursuit of my teaching degree. I was in school full time, working full time, and had a newborn baby to take care of. Yes, I had help. But, I made darned sure that I was the first person she saw whenever she woke up. I got up during the middle of the night to feed her. I stayed up as late as I needed to until she went to sleep. In order to spend a little extra time with her, I would read her the notes I was taking from my text books as she laid in my arms.
It was tough. But, I always reminded myself that she expected her mother to be there for her. She was too young to understand that I was busy, or tired, in the middle of a project that required both hands.
Unfortunately, that extra attention I spent on Jelly did come at the price of the extra attention Peanut and Butter needed. They were older, and I stupidly rationalized that they'd had their turn at being the babies...and I had to do what I had to do with Jelly.
It didn't take long to realize, however, the mistake I was making...and my focus was able to switch to ensure that all three of my children got Momma as much as I could give her to them.
Except, unfortunately, it was a little too late for Butter.
He'd been having issues in school. He was acting out. He was screaming for my attention, and I didn't notice the warning signs. I had done exactly what I swore I would never do... put myself before him.
The few years that followed were some of the hardest years I've ever had in my entire life. And I'd gone through an abusive relationship and being homeless. Neither held anything to the heartbreak that I went through in those few years with Butter.
My poor boy had fallen through the cracks. What I saw as bad behavior was a child that was just screaming for his mom. Just wanted to be noticed. Just wanted to be heard, be held, and be important to me.
And during those few years, I learned more from my children than I could ever teach them in a hundred lifetimes.
I discovered that I really hadn't done anything wrong. Not really. My attention towards him, or lack thereof, wasn't the cause of his behaviors. The harsh, heartbreaking outbursts and aggression didn't stem from me being a bad mother. As much as I blamed myself, I later learned that there really wasn't anything I could have done that would have prevented anything that happened from happening.
I had a child with a mental illness.
For four very long years, Butter saw countless doctors, tried countless medications, went to a special school, yet nothing helped. I felt like a failure. No matter what I did, or what we tried, his anger grew more intense. He would say the most nasty things to me. He would threaten physical harm. He would destroy things in the house. He tried countless times to run away from home.
Finally...when the entire family was close to the breaking point...we were able to find a place Butter would get the help he so desperately need. It meant being away from Butter for a couple of months. He had to go to a hospital. He had to get the help he needed. And I can tell you right now, the pain and suffering I went through the years prior didn't hold a candle to the pain and suffering I went through when I was told that I could only see my child one hour a week and speak to him on the phone for 10 minutes every other night.
It was during that time I started to understand his illness. I also started to learn the cost it had delivered to both Peanut and Jelly, too. They had been forced to the sidelines for a lot of that time, watching and waiting for things to just go back to normal. To have a normal life. A normal family.
Peanut had spent a great deal of time being the back-up mother. She had taken care of Jelly's needs. She had spent evenings showering her, getting her fed, and getting her to sleep while I was busy tending to the needs of Butter. She never complained. She just did what she felt was right to do.
When Butter finally came home, I swore at that moment that moving forward I would be a better mother to all of my children. I would be there for them. I would do everything in my power to ensure that one child never felt more loved than the other.
Peanut would no longer play the back-up mom. She would have her own life. Her own time. We would make time to talk, for her to share about her day, for her and I to have our own time together. Butter would no longer scream for attention. He would also have time to tell me about his day, to do the things he enjoyed doing, and to have our own time together. Jelly would go back to falling asleep on me at night, be tucked in to bed by me, and to play games and laugh with me.
And these past three years, that's exactly how it's been.
It has been very important to me to give as much of myself to my children as possible. The older two kids play sports. I attend almost every game. The youngest tags along excited by her future plans to follow in their footsteps. They spend time with friends and family. I drive them here, there and everywhere so that they can enjoy the things they like to do.
This year, I got to hold Peanut through her first heartbreak. While I thought in the back of my mind that she was too young to be dealing with such things, holding her in my arms made me realize that it was very real. As she cried, I held her. We spent a few days talking, and me holding her until she cried herself to sleep. And even though my heart broke for her, I also realized that this is one of the many duties I will gladly do for my child. She will never be too old to cry in my arms. Sleep right next to me. And for me to do everything in my power to take the pain away...even if it's just sitting there with her so she doesn't have to be alone.
This year, I got to hold Butter through his first sports injury. As he lay on the hospital bed, terrified about what the outcome was going to be with his broken arm, I held him in my arms, stroked his head, and assured him that everything was going to be OK. At a moment where fear and pain were taking over, I was there to comfort him, hold him in my arms. I was the last person he saw before they put him to sleep, and I was the first person he saw when he woke up.
This year, I got to hold Jelly through several nights of her crying about not wanting to go to school. This year she started kindergarten, and for whatever reason, she didn't take to it too well. We spent the first couple of weeks going through crying at bedtime, nightmares, and crying to get on the bus the next day. It was a heartbreaking ordeal. But I held her in my arms. I told her everything would be OK. I was the last person she saw before she got on the bus, and I was there when she got off the bus. I made her tell me about all the wonderful things she did at school that day. And we finally got through it, and now she absolutely loves school.
I could not ask for more wonderful, loving, and caring children than the three that live in my house. The ups, the downs, the good and the bad have all taught me very valuable lessons. And, I'm still not a perfect mother. I still learn from them each and every day. As they continue to grow and change, so do the lessons that they provide to me.
I am a better person for having these three angels in my life. My life is better. I just couldn't imagine life without them.
And for that.... I am truly thankful.