Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Giving Thanks

'Tis the season for giving thanks, at least here in the US since Thanksgiving is later this week. Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday. I love all the food and I love that it's all about getting together and eating good food - and that's it! No presents! No decorations (at least not in our case - we are such minimalists and only decorate for Christmas). And this year, we will get to celebrate with my family for the first time in 2 years. I'll get to see my parents, 7 of my 8 nieces and nephews, and 3 of my 4 siblings! It's rare for so many of us to be together so I am really looking forward to it! 

But I have to also admit that being thankful is not coming super easy right now. This stage of life is just really HARD right now. Little kids take a lot of time and energy, and so much of it falls on the mom. So if I am being honest - which I always strive to do in life and on this blog - I'm feeling pretty depleted. Kind of like the sad little Christmas tree on Charlie Brown Christmas if you need a visual. Will's recovery from his ear infection has been rough and his sleep has been pretty awful. On Sunday night I didn't quite get 5 hours of sleep - I need 7 or 7.5 so I was on the struggle bus on Monday. 

And yet - I know I'm incredibly lucky to be in the position to have child that is waking during the night and only wants his mom. Is it hard in the moment? Absolutely. Parenthood is a constant lesson that two conflicting things can both be true. You can be exhausted and grateful at the same time, although the strength of the opposing emotions really ebbs and flows. 

You know what helps spur feelings of gratitude, besides the upcoming holiday? Looking at family pictures. We recently had family photos taken for the first time since April 2019! That obviously pre-dates Will as it was around Paul's first birthday. I didn't feel comfortable having newborn photos taken last December and technically having a photographer in our home would have broken the lockdown rules - which I clearly followed. But I knew I wanted professional family photos done this fall as we only had 2 photos of the 4 of us and both were, well, not great. 

So on a cold morning in October, my cousin's talented wife took our photos by our favorite area of the creek by our house. Getting to the meeting spot at 8:30 on a Saturday morning when it was 40 degrees outside was NOT FUN. Phil said he would never look at family photos the same again because he now understands what it takes to get a family together, looking nice, and smiling for the camera. 

We had to cut our photo session short because the outfits I had for the boys were not great for 40 degree temps. Our kids don't own "cute" outer wear because it seems unnecessary. But in a span of 30 minutes, she managed to capture our family pretty darn perfectly. 

So yes, there are incredibly trying moments and times when I feel so. dang. tired. 

But I can look at these photos and think - "gosh, we're beautiful and so very lucky to have each other." 

So yes, in this season of life, I might need to remind myself to be thankful. And that's ok. I tell myself it won't always be this tiring. But in the mean time, I'm glad I have photographic evidence of how very lucky we are. 

Happy early Thanksgiving to those who will celebrate this week! Tell me one (or more!) thing you are grateful for! In addition to my family, I'm thankful for coffee, my health, sunshine, living in a walkable neighborhood, the library, my kindle, being able to run again, and many other things!


Elisabeth said...

Those photos are so, so lovely. The lighting, the outfits - everything. Picture perfect. But I also can appreciate behind-the-scenes it takes a lot of energy (and we always do fall pictures as well and have had some COLD mornings)!

I dread family photos (and it is usually ironic to look back and remember that a particular child was crying just before/after a specific adorable pose or how we're all trying to hide a stain on someone's shirt in another shot), but I am always SO glad to have them. Even when life seems hard (maybe ESPECIALLY when life seems hard), it feels very "grounding" to have a calm, uncluttered snapshot of our family.

I live in Canada so we're well past Thanksgiving (second Monday in October), but I'm thankful for the glow of Christmas lights, the fact no serious damage seems to have occurred during the powerful rain/wind storm last night, and for our home. I've had a long and troubled past with this place - some pretty traumatic issues when we moved in and it's been a long slog of very slowly renovating (it's from the 1970's), but I'm finally - after 4+ years - starting to feel like this is home. Starting to feel comfortable here and less wary that the house has some secret vendetta against me. And I'm just so thankful for that change in mindset.

As for the little years of parenting - it does get easier/different. Sure there are days when I wish my kids couldn't talk back or didn't huff and shut doors firmly (let's not call it "slam") - but I don't really miss the little years. They were great and I get nostalgic, but they're mind-numbingly exhausting in a whole other way and it's really fun to see kids develop and grow and I love their growing independence. Abby can address Christmas cards for me, help me with supper, decorate, wrap gifts, wander our small neighbourhood with friends. The kids don't come get me when they wake up early because of DST. We make LEGO and read books and watch the Junior Bakeoff together (and all love it equally). Older kids are pretty fun!

The sleep will get better. The frequent fevers/infections/respiratory illnesses will almost certainly improve significantly. This too shall pass. Enjoy what you can, lament what suck. I know that the mess is beautiful too, but you don't have to turn every hard thing into good - I always felt guilty for complaining or wishing it away, but I think it's important to be able to say: Getting up 10 times a night is HARD. I do it because I love my kids/it's what I have to do, but I don't enjoy it. It's okay to say you wish they would just stay asleep! Hoping sleep evens out soon and you get some uninterrupted stretches soon. Wouldn't that be something to be thankful for!

Jeanie said...

This is beautiful, Lisa. So honest and so you. I think for many of us, for very different reasons, we are just so tired. So sort of "done." And we know it will get better and we know we are fortunate and so very grateful. But just "done in." After four days with the toddlers, I have NO idea how parents do it 24/7. You have my greatest respect in that zone.

I love each and every photo, but especially the one with you and Will looking at each other. You can see the love zooming back and forth between the two of you. Your boys are both so handsome. Eight thirty, forty degrees, two kids and clothing.... now THAT is a challenge. Well done, just getting out there. The setting is beautiful and so is your family.

It sounds trite but I'm grateful we have all survived another year. And, that I have the resources to be able to do that in a time when people are not working or have housing challenges. And of course for Rick, who was there for me with last week's meltdown and Lizzie -- who is still thinking outside the box. I've now modified my Lizzie feelings about being grateful she only is messing up in one part of the house and that if I can get her to the litterbox at the right time, we're good for another eight hours. Small blessings!

Carolina John said...

Happy thanksgiving Lisa!

Grateful Kae said...

Those pics are just great. I think fall photos are definitely my favorite. Those are just too cute!! The boys look adorable.

We are not "professional family photo" people. We have had them taken I think exactly 3 times- once when Ethan was 1 year old (and just of him!), once when the boys were about 2 and 4 (fall pics outdoors in the leaves) and once in 2015 in a studio (Christmas themed pics- whole family). I love the family pics we had taken and I still display several of them in our living room! But I don't know. I just can't really handle the thought of doing all that prep, and making ourselves look just so at a certain time, with the right clothing....ugh. Haha. I'm not sure why, since I do plenty of other things that require lots of effort, but that is one I guess I just don't care enough about. I also think it's because I take SO MANY PHOTOS with my phone, especially when we travel. So I generally make sure we get some "nice" family shots on every trip, which I suppose feels sufficient.

I don't know if we'll ever get professional family pics taken again! Maybe the next ones will be Ethan's senior pictures! (gulp)

Stephany said...

I really can't get over how amazing these photos turned out! They will look so good hung up in your home. <3 Perfect fall colors and great smiles from the boys. And you can laugh one day about how cold it was on the day you took these pictures!

Finding something to be thankful for when you're in a hard season of life is always difficult, but what a beautiful post to find gratitude on Thanksgiving! I am thankful for so much, mostly that I have a wonderful family to celebrate this holiday with. I know that's not true for everyone, and I don't take it for granted.

katielookingforward said...

You got so many winners! My family (parents, and brother) really struggle with family photos. I'm in the charge of the family Christmas card photo and this year we happened to get a couple winning photos in June. So that is what we are going with. We had a family wedding in September and every single one of us looks not our best in the photo. Its almost comical. My friend who has an 18 month old had 40 degree weather outfits planned for her family, and then they ended up with a sunny and 70 degree day. So you just never know!

San said...

Whenever I get a little pang of sadness/regret/whathaveyou for not having any children of my own, I remind myself how hard parenting is (I see and hear about it from so many people - luckily, it's not a taboo anymore to talk about it!).
On the other hand, seeing those beautiful family pictures of you and your little family fill my heart with joy. So precious!

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

Organizing kids for family picture is a big pain in the butt. We don't have any professional pictures of Adeline yet. We don't normally do family pictures either because it's a lot of money and you have to have a lot of cards fall right!

Jolene - EverydayFoodie said...

Those are such beautiful family photos, and I am so sorry that you've been feeling depleted. Having two little ones is a lot of work, and it's so true that a great deal of household and parenting work falls on the mother. I hope you are able to rest and recharge a bit during the holiday season.