Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankfulness

I know, it's cheesy to post about Thankfulness the week before Thanksgiving. Would it make you feel better to know that this post wasn't really inspired by Thanksgiving, but just by the recent events in my life? Well, either way, today's post is about thankfulness, so just go with it.

A few months ago, I heard an interview on Family Life Today (I'm an addict avid listener of this show--I think Mr. Fantastic must get a little bit tired of hearing me talk about it...) with Barbara Rainey, whose husband is the president of Family Life. She is in the process of writing a series of family devotional books about different virtues, and has so far published Growing Together in Courage and Growing Together in Gratitude. (Blogger has changed their interface, so I no longer know how to post the little pictures of the books with the price and stuff right in my posts...) I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the books and wanted to check them out. And it just so happens that the Weekend to Remember that Mr. Fantastic and I recently enjoyed was put on by Family Life and had a fabulous "resource center." (This is a dangerous spot for me to be seen, because I love resources. I could have bought out that place!) And it just so happens that they had the Gratitude book in their resource center--which I'm sure had nothing to do with the fact that Thanksgiving was just weeks away. ;-) And it just so happens that I walked up to the register with the Gratitude book in my hands... along with a few others... and gave them money... and they let me leave with it! Go figure!

So Mr. Fantastic and I are in the process of reading the book with the kiddos this month, and it is very worthwhile. It is a collection of 7 real-life stories of people who showed thankfulness in a variety of situations and circumstances. It may be just a teeny bit over my kids' heads--the first story is about Corrie ten Boom and her sister, who were in a Nazi concentration camp--but it has still been a good thing for them. And the overarching theme of the book has been: Give thanks in all circumstances. Good lesson. One that I would definitely like my kids to learn. Right?

It's dangerous to try to teach your kids a lesson, friends. Often that lesson finds its way home to the heart of the momma...

Which brings me to earlier this week. As I have mentioned, all three kids are sharing a room while we redecorate, and Roo is a big fan of being in the same room with the big kids, but has not been doing great with sleeping since we moved him. Specifically, in the last 11 days since we moved him into their room, he has been up between 5:00 and 5:30 EVERY MORNING (except the first morning, when he slept all the way until 6:00). Let me just tell you... I just do not comprehend why anyone would chose to get up that early. Ever. OK, maybe on Black Friday. But that's it.

Anyway, after a few days, I had had enough of the early wake-up call. I was tired. I was frustrated. I was just plain angry. But I didn't want to be angry. I wanted to be happy. I took deep breaths. I thought positive thoughts. I looked forward to naptime. But I still couldn't quite shake my "grumblies."

On that particular morning, my attempts to get Roo back to sleep had also roused his sister. Fantastic. Thanks, Buddy. Now I'm doubly frustrated. And I'm rethinking our "remodel", which involves putting Roo in with Monkey and giving Lamb her own room. And I'm rethinking my decision to have children.

OK, maybe it wasn't quite that severe. Maybe.

But I was determined to beat this bad mood. And as I took Lamb and Roo down to get breakfast, I spotted the book. Growing Together in Gratitude. "Give thanks in all circumstances." Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom found a way to give thanks for fleas in their barracks. Another man found several ways to be thankful for a mugging. Surely I could be thankful for sleep deprivation a child who wakes up early.

So I decided to make it into a game. "Lamb, what is something that you're thankful for?"

"God and Jesus."

"That's awesome, Honey. Let's see... I'm thankful... that we have plenty to eat," I said as I looked at the assortment of cereal boxes in the pantry. "What else? It doesn't have to be anything big."

I don't remember what she answered that time, but we went back and forth for a while. And you know what? It really worked. I told her I was thankful that she woke up early, because I always feel so guilty when I have to wake her up for school--I want her to be able to sleep if she needs sleep--and because I got to spend a little extra time with her. It was good to gain a little perspective.

And then she said, "I'm thankful for Down syndrome."

Pause. "You're thankful for it? Why is that, Honey?"

"Well, because that's the way God made Roo, so that's how He wanted him to be. And also, if it takes him longer to learn things, that means we get to spend more time teaching him things, and I like teaching him."

I love it.

Exactly one year ago today, I wrote a post called Thankfulness & Down Syndrome. I was healing, I was seeing that things were going to be OK--but I stopped short of saying I was actually thankful for Down's. I couldn't quite get there.

Today, thanks in part to my beautiful 6-year-old girl and her love for her baby brother, I can say it.

I'm thankful for Down syndrome. It is a blessing. It is a blessing that has come "through raindrops", as Laura Story says in her song "Blessings" (which, I'm pretty sure, was written about my life over the past year--I've never actually met her, so I can't confirm that, but really, how could it not be?). But it is absolutely a blessing.

I'm thankful for Down syndrome. What a difference a year makes.

I'm thankful for Down syndrome.

Happy Thanksgiving.

3 comments:

Becca said...

I am thankful for Down syndrome, too. :-) That's a super-intuitive kid you've got there!

Scott and Deb said...

It was so good for my heart to read this today. Thank you!

cmsavage6 said...

I'm not at the point where I'm thankful for Downs. But my baby is only 7 weeks old. So I've got time. I am thankful for your posting because it gives me hope. I'm sure you remember what a crazy time it is when you first find out and everything after when you're just trying to get a grip. Thank you for your postings.