In light of the Thanksgiving Holiday coming up we've decided to keep something like a "gratitude journal". I've been struggling here and there with "the blues" and my husband and my son have been struggling with being just grumps in general some days. The days are getting shorter and colder and it is taking its toll on us. I thought focusing on the blessings we've had in our lives would help us all, there have certainly been many.
I've decided to write a bit between now and the end of the month about things I've been thankful for in my life. My Thanksgiving Posts. In no chronological order and no significant order at all, just what is on my mind. I'm sure I'll also add updates from Spencer and John. Spencer wrote last night that he's thankful for Grandparents and Polix. He's a lucky boy, that kid. He has wonderful involved Grandparents. Oh, and a dog that is his shadow.
Anyway, this picture was taken years ago at Bear River Park in Evanston. I've really been missing that park lately. I've been thinking of the healing place that it was for me and how it became like a friend. So many memories there. I spent hours and hours and hours on those trails when Spencer was a baby, and more when he was older. At first I wore him in a sling or pushed him in a stroller. My wonderful friend Rose (who happened to be the mother of a childhood friend) was a large part of those walks. We'd meet there almost every evening and walk for at least an hour or more, sometimes taking turns carrying my baby. I think back to how theraputic that time was for me, the conversation, the sunset, the walking. I learned and grew so much. Other times Spencer would be in the little seat on Doug's bike and I'd be on mine and we'd go ride on those same trails. I never would be over being amazed that my baby could sleep in a bike seat (especially when the parts of the trails his dad liked best were not the nice paved ones you see in the picture).
Sometimes I'd sneak to the park alone to walk and think. Even these times, or perhaps especially these times, were so healing to me.
As Spencer grew and changed so did my relationship with this park. Soon it was the place I'd take my little boy for long walks and exploring bugs and throwing rocks. Many times I'd end up somehow having to push or carry a tricycle and a little boy back to our house.
It was a magical land for Spencer and so it became so for me. As he grew there were many conversations with my little boy and many adventures we had at that park. Add to that the wonderful and heartwrenching things that have taken me to the trails there and the friendships that park has housed for me, Happy laughing times with my great friend Chad; tearful-figuring things out times with my dear friend Amy; Spencer's first Birthday party with our little circle of friends that had become our Evanston family. Yes a magical place.
But more than just the park and times I've had there I'm also thankful for the years that those times mark. Being a kind of single mom. I say 'kind of' because Spencer's dad was always involved and supportive and we had wonderful family and friends, I really had a great support system and never had to "do it all alone". Still, I look back with happy memories of the years that it was just the 2 of us. Spencer and I against the world. It was the time of learning and growing. For both of us. I learned who I was, how to stand up for what I believed in, how to be a mother. What I learned suprised me. That I was capable of loving so recklessly and so fearlessly. That I could give so completely. That I was so strong. That my role as his mommy defined me, it was a role that fit, that I felt, and still feel, is the most important thing I can do and my favorite too.
I wouldn't trade what I have now, a home with John that is more often than not bursting at the seams with kids. But I do cherish the memories of times when it was just my little boy and me. In our tiny apartment with the Big yard and the Big tub, playing Bob the Builder and super heros. The laughing and dancing and reading stories, going on trips. Quiet evenings with hot chocolate and christmas lights. I wonder how much of these memories that I hold so dear will Spencer carry with him? Will he remember those nights as a baby and toddler being rocked or walked to sleep in my arms? The days of laughing and learning and exploring? The brief moment in time where his life revolved around me and mine around him? Probably not, but I do hope that even though not remembered it lends something great to the man he'll become. I know it has been a huge blessing in my life.