Gratitude

Since finding out about Wes’s diagnosis, a lot of blessings have come our way.  The generosity of others has been immense; from my mom coming down to be with me the day after our 1:4 diagnosis bearing food and support, to the outpouring of hope and love from others within the Down syndrome community that I was fortunate to meet on Babycenter and Facebook. Family, friends, colleagues and complete strangers have all displayed such kindness, love and sincerity whether it be through giving advice or an ear when I was feeling unsure, gifts and messages of hope.  To all of you, I express my sincerest gratitude.

Gratitude is something that took me a long time to understand, especially the direct connection to how it affects my life. A year ago, I was working at a different school where I can honestly say I was unhappy. But one day a teacher friend of my told me about something she did that entirely changed her outlook on life. She gave thanks for her blessings every day in a journal regardless of her mood at that moment. If a particular student was giving her a hard time that day, she would write about how thankful she was for her job and supportive thoughts for that particular child. If something bothered her at home, she would acknowledge those feelings and then write something she was grateful for, such as her kids, her husband, or something specific like a mini achievement.

At first it was hard for me to find gratitude in life and take this friend’s advice. I was an underemployed, over utilized, unappreciated middle school aid, making $60 a day {before taxes} who had already been looking for a teaching position for two years. This, on top of the failure I felt by not succeeding in a business career {my original degree} brought out the worst in me. In my opinion, life sucked at that point. Numerous fruitless interviews over the years and jobs that just did not pan out weighed on me like winter nights in Fairbanks, Alaska. What I failed to acknowledge was how blessed I really was.  This acknowledgement came in the summer of 2011 after a series of events.

In March of 2011 I quit my job to follow a potential six-weeks teaching position for the end of the school year. I was very unhappy where I was, so this opportunity was an excuse to leave early. As usual, I counted my eggs before they hatched, and that job fell through because of events that were out of anyone’s control. No problem, a little set back was normal for me and by this time I was used to it. Shortly thereafter, I had what I considered an amazing opportunity to teach for the entire year at that same school. I really thought I was a shoe-in, partly because this was the same school where two previous job opportunities fell through and I had a good reputation and relationship with the administration and staff. Unfortunately, I did not get the position. I was shocked and distraught this time around. This was my third “rejection” from the school I loved so much. I couldn’t help but ask myself and anyone who’d deal with my complaining, “Why did this happen to me?” “I’m a good teacher, why can’t I get a job?” and “I do everything right, this is not fair!” I had all these expectations of myself and I just couldn’t deal with the rejection any more.

Earlier that year, John and I decided that we wanted to start a family as soon as the new school year arrived. We assumed that I would have a job by then and that they baby would arrive around the end of the school year. Feeling this rejection made me feel unworthy of having a child because I could not personally support him or her, regardless of John’s work status or income. {I don’t care what people say, it’s his earned money, not mine! I needed to earn my keep.}  These feelings just consumed me and the fear at nearly 28 without a child just made me feel hopeless. Would I be able to have a child, let alone two or three after 30? Would I even have a job then?

Returning back to the day I found out that I did not get that job, I was given a choice; I could take the alternate position offered to me or potentially go down another career path out of sheer frustration. I wasn’t sure immediately, but then someone told me exactly what I needed to hear but did not know it at the time.

“You can still be a mom. Don’t let not having your career stand in your way of what you really want to do.”

Wow.

All this time I was waiting for permission to do what I really wanted to do and what I knew would make me happy. I just wanted someone to tell me that it was alright and that just because I did not live up to my expectations didn’t mean that I had to deny myself my happiness.

This is where my story began; this is where gratitude took over feelings of doubt, negativity and despair. I started small, giving thanks in the best way possible. Words such as, “I am grateful for this job even though is it not what I want.” slowly evolved to, “I had an amazing day, I just made a kid laugh when she was crying.”, or “Yeah! The kids really connected to what I was teaching them today!” My focus shifted to what the world could do for me to what I can do for the world.

Gratitude.

Though I may not journal what I am grateful for, I acknowledge it now, one way or another. We can show gratitude for others, or simple little things that we experience throughout the day. It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of life that we don’t take time to reflect upon the amazing gifts that this world has to offer.

Right now I am writing at my dining room table with the back door open. Light is flooding through the dirty storm door and I’m thankful for the beauty of the pond in my back yard that is reflecting what is left of today’s sunlight. The birds are fluttering outside on the deck, entertaining my little furballs and making them chirp in delight. And, I have a little boy inside of me who is kicking so hard that I may pee my pants. Those little things are moments in time to be grateful for.

Sure, a little deep… oh well, so I will run with it!  In the words of a yoga instructor: Namaste.

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2 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. mom says:

    Namaste…and may you enjoy watching your Wessie Pooh grow and mature as I have enjoyed watching you! Love Mom

  2. Nori Coleman says:

    Beautiful Pictures! I found your blog through Monkey Musings and I am so excited to for you and your husband. My lil’ boy has DS and he is the icing on my cake. I never knew I could love this way until he came into my life 10 months ago!He is the sweetest, cuddliest, flexible( due to hypotonia) rolly-polliest wonder.Glad you are sharing your story!!

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