A Season of Gratitude

  • Post by The Not So Down and Out Mom
  • Dec 31, 2020

It has taken a long time for me to finally sit in front of my computer and actually start typing for this next post. I feel like over the last several months I’ve spent so much time in front of the computer screen that my brain just couldn’t handle it anymore. Lately, I’ve had a lot of extra time to think about the situation of things this year (being home 24/7 does that to you). I’ve been home since March, teaching remotely while my husband also works remotely. At the same time, we have our son in a hybrid schooling program and we have Vera’s therapy (four sessions a week!) It has been so easy to fall into the pity-party trap. Honestly, I’ve succumbed to a personal pity-party about 6,000 times since the pandemic started in March. Honestly, who hasn’t? I cannot think of one person who has not, at one point or another, thought to themselves, “This is the worst year ever.”

The Ultimate Pity-Party

When Vera was born I remember exactly how the two of us felt when we heard of her diagnosis. I remember Ben telling me, “You have no idea how hard our lives are about to get.” I remember believing that and crying thinking that we’ll never have an easy time as special-needs parents. Don’t we all go through that, though, when we receive news like this? Find me a special-needs parent who has NOT thought this exact same thing. I bet you can’t. It’s human nature to receive life-changing news and immediately think, “Why me?” I spent weeks feeling sorry for myself. Obviously we know how the story ends: Vera ends up being the perfect little baby that we all needed. I would not change a thing about her. But I would be lying if I said that initially I didn’t feel that way. I felt badly for myself. So many specialist appointments, so many initial medical concerns, so many therapy evaluations: why was this happening? Why couldn’t have the motherhood experience that everyone around me was having?


I truly believe that everyone deserves the space to grieve the life they initially saw for themselves. We all go into parenthood with this vision of what we want and expect. For some people, that vision comes true. For others, it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, go ahead and throw yourself the pity-party. Grieve the loss of that vision. Feel badly for this overwhelming change you’re about to go through. These feelings won’t last forever. They probably won’t even last a whole month. Be kind to yourself as you adapt to this new normal.

New normal: that’s a phrase I think we’re all tired of hearing, am I right? 2020 seemed so hopeful for all of us. Now here we are…in our houses going on nine straight months. No parties, no school, no playdates, no Girls’ Night Out, no football with the guys. We stay in our houses and if we do decide to leave, we make sure we bring that little piece of cloth that has now become another appendage. This is what our “new normal” is. As we’ve battled the challenges of this year, I often think back to Vera’s birth: to when I sat in that hospital bed feeling nothing but sorry for myself. If only someone had just slapped me and told me to snap out of it (where is Cher when you need her?) If only I had known what a truly amazing addition to my life Vera was going to be. If only I had known that in two years we were about to face some REAL challenges.

Spreading Gratefulness

Over the last few months I’ve had a lot of time to think about our personal situations in our house. Things have been hard, I’m not going to sugar coat it. Recently, however, Ben and I had a conversation about privilege. We complain about being stuck at home working…but we both have jobs that provide us with a comfortable income. We complain about having to sit with our kids for remote learning…but there are so many people right now that can’t do that with their own kids. We complain about the amount of work we have around the house…but we have a house. I know this sounds self-righteous. I don’t mean for it to sound that way. I just have been working really hard lately to put things into perspective. We are privileged. There’s no other way of saying it. We can embrace it, but also recognize that there are people who do not have this same privilege. We can’t forget those people. The lessons I learn from all of this I hope to pass on to my own kids: to understand that not everyone has it the way we have it and we need to recognize that and find ways of using our privilege for good.

This year involved so many people getting sick, so many people dealing with significant loss. It’s so hard for us all to not just fall into the Pit of Despair. I keep trying to tell myself, “2021 just HAS to be better.” Maybe it will…maybe it won’t. But if I have taken anything away from this dumpster fire of a year, it’s that I have a new sense of gratitude. I’m grateful that my family has a home to quarantine in. I’m grateful that I have people who have been so willing to help us with childcare so we can work full-time. I’m grateful that I have two kids who have proven that they can overcome difficult situations. I can go on and on.

By saying all of this, do I think that people shouldn’t feel sorry for themselves? No. Do I think that we don’t deserve the time and space to feel badly about our situations? Also, no. If you take anything away from this, I hope it’s that you learn how to be kind to yourself. We’re all going through some tough stuff right now. Yes, some people have it worse, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve your time to manage your struggles.

2020 sucked, for lack of a better word. Let’s go into 2021 with a new sense of gratitude for what we do have. Let’s go into 2021 practicing kindness, not only to others, but to ourselves. Wishing you all a New Year filled with far better luck than we had in 2020.


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