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Counting My Blessings

alec vanderboom

My 2 year old daughter cut her hair with scissors this week. She chopped off her bangs super short. I spent a day mourning her former hairstyle and planning on pinning back her bangs with pretty sparkly barrettes for the Christmas season. The next day, I found more brown Shirley Temple curls on the floor. My daughter had found another pair of scissors the old kids had used for paper art and left in the basement. My 2 year old with the painfully slow growing and thin hair clipped off both sides of her head down to the bare skin. "Oh Abby, you cut your hair again!" I said in despair.

My 2 year old put both hands on her hips, cocked her head and proclaimed loudly "It's fine, Mom! It's fine!"

She put me in my place. It is her hair, after all. I started laughing. We were having the "What did you do with your hair teenager stand off 10 years early. I was forced to admit that the weird mullet thing she made was actually a genuine hairstyle in 1980.

 (What my 2 year old's hair looks like now--only with shorter bangs).

On this Thanksgiving Day, I'm thankful for all the ways that my six children are messy, spunky, and quirky individuals who do, think, and say things that I would never dream of doing myself. I gain more courage from their fearless example everyday. It's a privilege to hang out with them.

I'm blessed to still be in love with my husband of 13 years. Yesterday was a super hard day where our newborn woke up at 1 AM and stayed "non-sleeping" until 9 PM that night. My husband showed up at our house after work with white wine, red roses, and a newly prescribed bottle of anti-reflex medicine for the baby which he picked up from the pharmacy in a snow storm. I thought my husband's perfect trio of gifts spelled "LOVE" at age 40!

I'm blessed to be a Catholic under Pope Francis! I spent a lot of years trying to get to Jesus all on my own. I feel like being nourished by the Catholic Church is an almost effortless ride to healing, growth, and wisdom.

This year I invented a new tradition called "Dessert War" at our Thanksgiving table. I made the traditional pumpkin pie. Then I picked a new dessert to see if I could beat the recipe. I picked Rosemary Chocolate Cake--inspired by the fresh rosemary I had picked up for the stuffing the night before. My 7 year old, who is the aspiring pastry chef, picked out Tie Die Cake. Even thought its from a mix, the directions to this cake look so intimidating. We picked it up on a grocery shopping trip because my 7 year old begged for it, but the box had languished on the shelf for weeks. I joked with my 7 year old that it took me until age 40 to have the courage to make this cake for the first time, especially on the busy cooking day of Thanksgiving.

Hours later my seven year old daughter hugged me and said "Mom, I can't wait to be 40!" I looked down at her in shock. I'm totally NOT feeling calm about this birthday milestone myself. Then I realized that part of my fear is that I don't really have examples in my life of women who are calm, happy, and fun at age 40. Most of the women I know personally have morphed from the stress of middle age and motherhood into someone don't want emulate.

Even though I don't have good internal examples, I am called to be that example to others. It's working! My daughter didn't inherit the same pattern I did of stressed, non-creative, snippy cooks on Thanksgiving Day. My daughter thinks that at age 40 is a fun time to make new, hard recipes in the kitchen. She can't wait to be 40 herself!

I'm so grateful to Mary, the Mother of God for shepherding me into a new ways of relating to God, myself and others. Thank you Mommy Mary! You are a great inspiration to me!