suburban gratitude

Dave bought me this sign for Christmas and I hung it in our family room. I think (I hope) it describes us well.

Dave bought me this sign for Christmas and I hung it in our family room. I think (I hope) it describes us well.

I’m working on chapters three and four of our adoption story, so I spent a couple hours this morning sorting through emails I sent out during 2008 and 2009. Some of those were specifically about adoption matters: court dates and home studies and official documents, but many others were simply newsletters about our family.

Em was seven and Jake and Maddie about three and a half in the earliest updates (January 2008); the last one I read was written six months after Patrick and I came home from Uganda (September 2009). I wrote about funny things they said (like when Maddie was pretending to be Jake’s mommy until Jake, fed up with bottles and blankets, ran away from her, crying, “I all growed up now, Maddie. I not a baby any more”). I wrote about daily routines that I’d forgotten, like Patrick coming home on the preschool bus in Kansas. He would bring his backpack inside, tell me to “Close eyes, Mommy,” and then show me each paper he’d worked on that morning, one by one. Then we read his new library book—they went every day—TWICE. And all this before lunchtime. I wrote about life lessons they were learning, like when Em got the teacher she did NOT want and her words three weeks into the school year: “Mom and Dad, you were right. I think God did want me to have Mrs. Farney. I really like her.”
The emails made me a little sad. Those times are gone, and life with my kids isn’t so simple anymore. It’s not full of long Saturdays spent at home or morning playtimes at the park. They’re growing up and away—just as they should be—but I was suddenly a little nostalgic.
And I was also grateful—for something I don’t think I’ve ever before been grateful for. I was thankful for all the driving, the times in the car, the back and forth to this activity and that practice that consumes so much of my life these days.
Usually this is one of the things I hate most about life in suburbia. Twenty-minute drive here, thirty there, another fifteen…
But my kids are captive in the car—right there with me, right there with each other. And we talk about our days and we listen to good books (yay for audio books), and we sing, and we spend time together, and they can’t escape, and I can’t get all busy with housework or writing projects. And when it’s me and just one of the kids, we get quiet, let’s-really-find-out-what’s-going-on time.
Hmm. Maybe there are other things on my “hate” list that I can learn to be thankful for.

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