From December 31, 2011 (forgot to post!):
Thinking back on 2011, it would be easy for me to recount how miserable this year was (seriously, 4th of July fireworks on a cloudy night?), so I decided to challenge myself to count my blessings instead as I am often reminded to do so.
1. No one in my immediate family died this year.
This is kind of a joke, but not really. 2011 was a banner year for hospital visits/stays, and we truly tested the limits of my insurance carrier. Both my husband and I missed plenty of work and/or had to work from home. But, it could have been worse. I think one of the “Aha” moments for me was when we were at Children’s during E’s ureteral reimplantation surgery and I was still in hysterics over everything she was going through, especially her kidneys going into shock. One of the nurses said to me, we see this all the time with children who get kidney transplants. It occurred to me that E’s situation, while bad, was not quite so bad that she was receiving organ donations. To be truthful, I was really scared that she was going to die. That was the second time she has done that to me (the first being at the ripe age of 2 months, when she was hospitalized with a mysterious infection), so she really needs to stay healthy now.
2. O was born. See, I’m getting more serious with the blessings.
It was challenging being pregnant while taking care of two toddlers and working full time (not to mention aforementioned hospital stay and drama). My personality was probably the worst it had been since I was 12 years old. I was convinced I’d be pregnant for 45 weeks. But when that little boy finally made his (somewhat dramatic) appearance, I felt myself being righted. He’s been such a good baby – not very fussy and has only now had his first illness – RSV and a double ear infection. No matter what kind of bad day I have, even with my jaw banded, one smile from him can melt it all away.
3. Both my husband and I remain well employed, even with all the time we’ve missed.
I don’t need Occupy Boston to tell me the economy is bad. I am so appreciative that my husband and I have companies that are very supportive of work/life balance. My husband in particular has been hit hard – I don’t think he took a single vacation day this year that was spent on anything other than taking care of a sick child who couldn’t go to day care. On top of everything, I managed to find a new job in a bad economy (and a good one at that) only to have to go out on disability only 30 days in. And this is a really bad time for me to be out – our team is short staffed and we are heading into the busiest time of the year. Although my boss is supportive, I know I need to make one hell of a re-entrance. Anyway, I’m glad that both P and I have flexibility in our work. Believe me, it makes us a thousand times more loyal and willing to work hard!
4. I’ve received amazing support from family and friends.
I never would’ve made it through this year if it wasn’t for my family and friends. I am so grateful for my sister J, who never says no but probably really should. She is one of those people who just does amazing things for people and I’m lucky that she lives close by. We’ve called on her several times to come over at the last minute so we can rush to the ER to take a sick child or have a baby or fix a jaw. She and her husband not only host us all the time, they also host our parties! She’s also great to bounce ideas off of and will gently let me know when I’m starting to overreact. My mom was amazing over Christmas taking care of me, making sure the house was stocked with food for me, lending me her brand new blender, and taking care of the kids so P and I could rest. My other sister N stayed with us for several days when O got sick and couldn’t go to daycare. My dad drove over two hours in rush hour traffic on Route 2 more than once to drive me to my doctor appointments. My mother-in-law spent two days making me a special broth so rich that it really did make me feel like I was eating meat (not to forget the father-in-law who gave us a case of wine for Christmas!). Many friends sent me countless cards, emails, FB messages, and have humored me by reading my blog! One new work friend in particular who has just been my rock through it all. It’s amazing when you meet those rare new friends that make you wonder, where has this person been my whole life? Hmmmm…that sounds slightly stalkerish. But I think she’d understand what I mean. And P, who just does everything.
5. There is a Santa Claus
This Christmas did feel magical. It all started when I got the shock of the year from a little blue box. I’m *really* not trying to be braggy about my gift, it’s more about how special it made me feel and what it means to me. My husband is a practical guy, and if he ever was to get me a special piece of jewelry, he’d NEVER pay inflated prices just to get the name brand. Of course, he keeps reminding me that the money could’ve been spent reflooring our kitchen. He says the gift is because it’s been a bad year, but I know I didn’t do anything to “earn” or “deserve” it. It was simply something to make me happy, and that made me feel ridiculously special. Also, it is a major sign of commitment for me. Like all couples, we’ve had our ups and downs (mostly downs than ups lately), but to me, you don’t just give someone a gift like that unless you are willing to stick it out. It kind of tells me that he actually likes me likes me, and not just because he has to. That means so much to me.
E really believes in Santa Claus, and the fun involved with this charade actually made me not hate the holiday. We put out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer. I wrapped gifts and stuffed stockings while watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” on NBC. I haven’t believed in Santa since I was four years old, and throughout my childhood, I kept wishing that I could believe, that he could be real. Honestly, I used to lay awake at night listening for hooves. Having kids allows you to live vicariously through their experience, and I love the fact that E was into it this year.
6. As of tomorrow, the year will be over
2011 is still trying to get one more jab in (see: O’s illness described above), but there is little damage it can do in just one more day. I have high hopes for 2012, and I refuse to believe the world will end. Or at least hope I get one more summer in before I go.