I just celebrated my 45th birthday. We had cupcakes with candles and when I blew out my candles, Miles asked, "So did you make a wish?"
I lied and said yes, but really, I hadn't even thought about it. I have nothing, really, that I wish for. I'm content. I thought about it and decided that I would take stock of all that I had and all that I was grateful for. Here's my list:
1- My body- I had spinal meningitis at six months old and my mother feared that my body would fail me. It didn’t, and for that, I am extremely grateful. I am grateful at 45 years old to have a body that will still run for three miles, hike up a mountain, scale a rock face, play with my kids, dance with my husband, fight off disease, and appreciate so many pleasures of life. My body has carried babies without too much complaint and performs the duties of modern life.
2- My husband, Jeff- I found the right man for the job. A great father, a great friend, a partner in every sense of the word. He has supported me in my joys and sorrows and knows how to cheer and comfort. He thinks I’m more beautiful now than when I was 22. I am so, so grateful.
3- Miles- my first born, my beautiful boy, who taught me that parenthood explodes your heart and your world. He is full of laughter and energy, fantasy and exploration. He keeps me playing and pretending.
4- Milagros- my last born, my miracle. Just when I had given up hope, she came to me. Headstrong, sweet, adorable and adoring, she adds so much to our family. Thank you.
5- All of my wonderful friends, near and far, those who are in contact all the time and those I don’t get to talk with as often as I would like- but especially Leeann Borton-Harvey. She has been there holding my hand through the best and the worst, my sister-by-choice, an inspiration. She is nothing less than awe-inspiring. All her accomplishments make my jaw drop. And she does it all with grace, humor, beauty, and compassion.
6- My mom- She taught me how to be human, how to be compassionate, how to be a teacher, a cook, a mother, and a strong woman. She encouraged my independence, even when it was scary for her.
7- My dad- He was a traditional breadwinner of his time. He provided us with all of the opportunities he didn’t have himself. While not the super-involved dad my husband is, he was unfaltering in his love for me and let me know it his entire life. He could fix anything, build anything, and, when I was young, he was my superhero. I miss him all the time.
8- My oldest brother, Evan- He taught me how to play softball and touch football, he took me out to the college bars when I was just sixteen, he taught me that I could have a rational, amiable conversation about politics with someone who had a different viewpoint. He was financially conservative but socially liberal, a kind hearted person who was curious about everyone. I miss him all the time, too.
9- My middle brother, Emil- A dry sense of humor wrapped in deep compassion, he is a great doctor, father, husband, and brother. He is my remaining connection to the past that was my family.
10-My job- I am so grateful to do something I really enjoy, that betters the world, that pays enough for my family and me to live in relative comfort and to never need for anything. I also get summers to live my life and enjoy my family and friends.
11-My great colleagues- I work with some pretty awesome people. They are dedicated, wonderful teachers; they love their students (most of their students), and are really invested in working as a team. We have administrators that treat us like professionals and support and value our work. But most of all, I’m grateful for Sandy Pugliano who is my other half, doing the important literacy work we are both so passionate about. She has taught me so much about leadership, vision, and organization (yes, really, Sandy!)
12-Being born in this time, in this place- As a white woman in the US, I have freedoms and privileges that are unthinkable in other times and places. My world is not perfect, but I am quite aware of how blessed I am to be who I am, right here and right now.
13-Coffee- the elixir of the gods.
14-Modern medicine- I’m grateful for antibiotics and x-rays and laparoscopic surgery and C-sections for those who need them and MRI’s and mammograms and immunizations and all the other things that have saved millions and millions of lives.
15-Technology- While much of it is a time wasting pain in the ass, I’m grateful for the tools to keep those spread apart close together and the ability to pick and choose what I want to use to entertain my children and myself when I want to do so. My cell phone is an extraordinary tool.
16-My ex-es- Yes, I am grateful for them, as they have all shaped who I am and have guided me into my happy relationship.
17-Being burglarized- While I don’t want it to happen again, being burglarized gave me a chance to try on my perspectacles. Nothing that was taken couldn’t be replaced or given up without too much pain, no one was hurt, and it reinforced my belief that money is best invested in experiences that cannot be taken away from you.
18-Izabelle Rhea- my baby that left too soon. Another experience that I would rather not ever repeat, she taught me that all people walk around with hurts that we can never know, so be kind. Compassion and love took on new meaning when I lost her.
19- The ocean- I’m grateful for the life sustaining force that it is. I’ve always found the ocean very healing and I also have great respect for the danger that is inherent in it.
20-Household appliances- What wonders the washing machine and dryer are to a parent! What a miracle, the dishwasher! Even the lowly coffee pot, mixer, and food processor are jaw dropping magic makers!
21- A really comfortable bed- We bought a Temper-Pedic a few years ago. It’s one of the most expensive things we own and worth every penny.
22-Music- A good song can turn my mood around. How do societies exist without it?
23-Inexpensive, widely available books- I love my library but bookstores are my weakness. I love a new book.
24-“This American Life,” “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” and “The Daily Show.” Without these, I would have no knowledge of the outside world. As far as I’m concerned, Jon Stewart is a god.