But the other day it kinda hit me. As the kids were squabbling in the car, sweat dripping down our faces, trying - and failing - to make it to Costco before it closed. We drove away, requiring silence even as newly minted four year old tried to sing away her blues, loudly, and little miss jammed her fingers in her ears, crying for silence, and little man buried his head in his ever present Kindle, disengaging. And I look up, as the forced silence finally fell upon the car, to see a beautiful pink-y purple sky, the ocean a deep mauve below, stretching both ways as far as you could see, the beach before it a faint grey in the fading light, bedecked with the fringes of palms off in the distance.
And I felt gratitude sinking in. We had accomplished this seemingly impossible feat, of moving so far from everything, and we were really here. In all our squabbling glory.
And I see one of those facebook things floating around. Somewhere, its says, someone on this planet is happy with much less than what you have.
And its true. I have a roof. Hot and tiny though it feels on this sweltering afternoon as I type. A room that is clean and safe, Beds for all of us. A fridge stocked with juice and fruit and bread and milk.
And the bubbling feeling of a new life is inside of me. Movements now that are so evident as I lay in bed at night, trying to sleep. A tumble here. A flutter there. I'm nearly halfway (19 weeks) and its starting to feel so real. Another life. Another head of curls. Another sturdy body. Another soft smile.
And a friend of mine from college posts online, her cancer is back. She is my age. With a child and husband and career she loves. And it seems so damn unfair, even as this new life flutters inside my healthy body.
And I see reports of college shootings and fleeing refugees, the bombing of a hospital full of aid workers in Afghanistan.
And suddenly the heat of my little room isn't so oppressive, looking at refugees living in tent cities in the desert. My three children, fighting over who's iPad turn is first - they are whole, they aren't lying traumatized on a mattress on the floor, unable to speak because of the unspeakable horrors they have seen, horrors no one should see, let alone a child.
And I find myself crying more. Softening. Feeling the gratitude creeping in, taking hold of me.
And I look at my kids, complaining over what was served in the cafeteria, realizing, why shouldn't they complain, I have been too. And I realize, for the forty millionth time, how their gratitude starts with mine. How my eyes need to see the good, in them, in our circumstances, even as things feel hard.
Because things are not hard. Things might be inconvenient - the heat, the small space, living on the side of a volcano walking up and down the pathways of campus with a swiftly growing body inside of me - but things are not hard.
We let, so often, the inconvenient become the hard. We confuse the two. The merely nuisances become the stressful. And then they overpower the joys. The kids fight over who plays Minecraft first - but they ACTUALLY LOVE DOING THE SAME THING (miracle of miracles!) Little green whines about riding her scooter all day - but she has strong active legs and a strong body that loves moving. My body feels slower and more cumbersome with each week that passes - BUT I'M GROWING ANOTHER KID TO LOVE. The heat feels like being trapped in a car without the AC on, some days - but in the evening the ocean breezes blow in and the waves ripple on the mauve sea under a pink sky and the beauty overwhelms everything.
The hard becomes a blessing.
So, those are my notes on gratitude. A reminder to myself. And one week from now we get to set up house in our new rental and the days are cooling as we move into fall and the kids are meeting friends and I AM MEETING FRIENDS (amazing!) and this is good. And this is where we should be. Even if pumpkins cost $9 at Walmart. (HA HA HA, can you believe that???)
Life is so beautiful friends. Dammit. It is.
My birthday dinner at the beach last week.