We had a relatively low key, but warm and happy holiday weekend. The biggest part of it was in advance of my daughter's birthday (and taking advantage of a Black Friday sale) we got her a bird. We offered her one a year ago, but she didn't quite feel ready. She's since done her research and finally feels prepared, and now the bird is adapting to us and we are adapting to the bird. More details on all of that later as things progress and eventually I can get a good picture.
I can share some other birds, though. The kids did custom made turkey decorations for each place setting this year, and I asked for a robo-turkey, and Ian asked for an 80s-music-turkey, and Aden delivered.
It was a good Thanksgiving. One that has me simply appreciating the place where I am now. Some of that is circumstance, and some of that is perspective.
I have reached a point in my life where I have officially abandoned the illusion that there is impending calm around the corner. You know that sense that "If I can just get past...(fill in the blank with the hassle or crisis of the moment here)...everything will be okay and I'll have time to relax and can get stuff done I've been putting off." Yeah, no, that will never happen.
That feeling seems most acute for me with parenting, where we're always just trading one struggle for the next. Because parenting is about guiding someone you're responsible for through the first part of their life, and life is nothing but struggle, even if things are going relatively fine. I often think about when my oldest was in sixth grade and grew two inches that year. There was nothing wrong with that, but it changed where we shopped for clothes, and her center of gravity had shifted so she couldn't take how she moved for granted anymore, and it changed how people perceived her in the world. Those were all consequences of her growth that were as unanticipated as they were foreseeable.
I feel like I've spent most of my kids' childhoods thinking "Ugh, if we could just get past the diapers, or the potty training, or this irrational fear, or that allergy...." when the truth is the end of one thing is just the start of something new, so it doesn't stop. There is no impending calm. There is just life.
This year I had my son help me with the orange jello for the Thanksgiving meal. My grandma's recipe is unclear in terms of amounts, so most of the time the chemistry is off and we end up with a fancy plate of goo. I'm not exactly sure what we did differently this time, but I trust Quinn to remember it for the next time, and this year we got to serve an orange jello that would have made my grandma proud.
But the thing is? We would have still enjoyed it if it were goo. It's full of pineapple and mandarin oranges and sherbet... How does that not still taste good even if it doesn't set?
Right now we are struggling with getting one kid through physics. Part of me is looking forward to whenever we get past this, but part of me knows it doesn't matter because it won't really be an end when we do. There will be a new thing that may as well be physics. So I'm learning to remember that right now it's also fine to accept the goo.
Another bit of perspective? Our sad candle. We don't remember which birthday we originally purchased the sad candle for, but it's still on its original battery and it limps through the birthday song for us this time of year in its own pitifully determined electronic way. It is sad, but brings us more joy than if it were unambiguously happy. We root for the sad candle as it warbles away, and then shut it off quickly so that it can save up its small reserve of power for next year. You don't have to be perfect to be loved.
For us right now we have some pretty impressive struggles ahead that I'm not sure how to deal with, but we are past some others that I wasn't sure how we would get through either. On all the levels that matter, I am incredibly grateful for where we are at the moment. Compared to last year or the year before at this time, I couldn't ask for better.
My daughter looked at me yesterday as we sat at the table admiring her new pet and said she loved her bird, and she loved her life. That is everything.
I don't really care that there is a storm coming this afternoon and two of the kids still don't have boots and that my floor is a mess and that there are three violin bridges waiting to be carved on my bench at work or that I'm probably forgetting something important. The goo still tastes good and the sad candle still makes us laugh. We're all fine.