It's that moment you open your eyes in the dark to find your 8yo daughter standing beside your bed, a stricken look on her face that is obvious despite the dark. You can feel the sickness coming off her, sense her anxiety as she says those words every mother dreads, "Mommy, I don't feel good." You hear a cold, icy rain pounding on the roof and as you try to fall back asleep you can't stop your mind from spinning. You are already speeding hours ahead, into the future and your amended plans. The rain alone is a game changer. Gone are the lofty plans of spray painting leaves silver to grace your dining room table for the big day on Thursday. Gone is the hope of getting in a big grocery run while the kids are at school. That would be miserable in icy cold rain, and now that there will be a child at home? Well, forget it for sure. And that big "welcome home" dinner for college daughter arriving today? That might not be as... extravagant as you'd hoped. It might be grilled cheese and tomato soup.
And so you get on the phone as soon as the doctor opens and they say that they can see you at noon. And you calculate all that will need to be done before you leave and you hope you don't wait an hour to see the doctor because it would be nice to get home with a little time to spare before the other kids (the well ones) need to be picked up. And there is almost no kids' Tylenol left and no kids' ibuprofen and thank goodness there is a bottle of ginger ale. The doctor suggests popsicles too and writes a script for penicillin and says "Yep, you have strep throat" to your 8yo daughter. And you think, well, I knew that already.
And somewhere in all of this you begin to count your blessings with a renewed sense of intention, because that is the time of year it is. The thing that is called for. To focus on being grateful and not grumpy. To go with the flow even when your Thanksgiving shopping still hasn't happened and there is no end to the rain. Even when your oldest won't be with the family on Thursday because he's in the Navy and there just wasn't leave time available to get home. Even when you see all that is in front of you to do and it feels like Mt Everest. There is still good to be found, you tell yourself. You must look.
Slowly the blessings emerge, like those hidden pictures you used to love. The ones where the items are there, they're just blended in with all the other stuff. Once your eyes got used to the puzzle, you could see them lurking, waiting to be discovered. The gratitude is this way too. It takes intention. It takes listening and looking and praying for help. It takes vigilance to not be so self-focused, so agenda-driven that you only see the inconvenience. And so today, I'm working on my grateful intentions, waiting for my eyes to adjust, so I can see what was there all the time.