This morning Jeff drove a truckload of crap to the dump. The basement no longer has the couch that Jack broke, nor the giant beanbags, one of which Jack tore open, spilling 6 million foam bits all over the garage, driveway, and front yard.
As he was driving, Jeff noticed a plume of said bits billowing behind him. People on the highway were honking. Jeff took an extra thirty minutes to cover the pile of crap before dumping it and returning home.
If there is a classier way to begin the Thanksgiving holiday, I can’t think of it.
Meanwhile, Jack was rampaging at home with me. He was filled with transition anxiety—I was packing things for the cabin and he wanted to leave that very minute. I told him to sit in the van while we waited for Jeff. He threw a drink across the garage. He got in the van, closed the door, and began to bash his head against the car window.
Jack’s anxiety becomes my anxiety.
I envisioned him breaking the car window, thus wrecking the Thanksgiving trip. We were already delayed leaving because of the truckload of crap and the zillions of foam bits Jack released from the beanbags.
By the time Jeff returned, Jack and I were both tense. I was convinced the disastrous behaviors would follow us to Idaho. Jack was ready to smash all the things if we didn’t leave instantly.
Jeff said, “Jack is not driving the bus.”
“Oh really?” I replied. “I think he is.”
This is the eternal life cycle of anxiety. It starts in my children’s minds and consumes the rest of us as their behaviors become increasingly uptight, demanding, screechy, destructive.
Jack has another ear infection. We are starting the long holiday weekend with this strike against us, but with antibiotics on our side, so there is that.
And thus, my state of mind entering the holiday weekend was dark and stormy. Gale force winds and thunderclouds. This also happened to be the actual weather building around us.
Where was my gratitude? Where was my sense of thanksgiving? Why couldn’t I access anything other than gloom?
I tried to nap in the car, around Jack’s chirps and yips. I prayed for help in being grateful. Is that a weird thing to ask God? “Help me be grateful to you for everything, because right now I am not feeling it.” It might be weird. But I was a thundercloud with few other options.
Now we are at the cabin. It’s snowing fat wet flakes outside. Inside, there is a dull roar of baking, gaming, and Charlie Brown Thanksgiving-watching. Jack has spent ninety minutes playing happily with a cord on the floor.
My bratty attitude improved as Jack settled down. When both our minds stopped with the death spiral, I noticed things that make me grateful.
This is what I’m thankful for:
- A cabin in the snow.
- Cousins for my boys.
- My parents.
- Jack being chill.
- The pediatrician squeezing us in yesterday afternoon and fixing us up with the Rx.
- The pharmacy. And Omnicef. Also ibuprofen.
- Jesus, for swallowing up my desolation. For being the ballast that stopped me from spinning into a fully opaque depression.
Guys, I’m ready to give thanks.