Last night I was challenged by a sorority sister, Deb Shapiro, to do a “3 Positive Thoughts” project. I am supposed to write each day for five days three things for which I am thankful. She picked me to be one of her challengees because I had posted pictures and personal lamentations about taking my oldest son off to college. Deb and I were students at American University in Washington, DC We were sorority sisters. We were goofballs together.
Something in the unavoidable awareness of time and its passage presses upon us when we see pictures of graduations, weddings, children marrying. I don’t feel old enough to have a son going to college. I feel close to my own college experience and yet……it does feel far away. What feels far away is that nervous anticipation, that excitement of going out into the world toward something BIG and NEW and UNKNOWN. I felt fearless and brave and invincible. these are my three thanks for today.
#1. I know my son well enough to read his body language and tone of voice. I know him well enough to decipher what sounds and looks like contempt as anxiety and nervousness. I know him well enough to know he does NOT want to be left alone. He wants you to come after him and press in upon him and to ask what his deal is. I know him well enough to know when he is struggling to figure out his jumble of emotions and his piss ant behavior is his 18 year old male form of, “Mommy help me.” And so I push him, I push into his space and make him find his words. I know him well enough that what he is truly seeking is for people who want to know him and are willing to step into his emotional space…even when he is a jerk. He is not the easiest kid but then….he is my kid. And the reward is amazing.
#2. I have some amazing memories of my own college experiences. They are vivid and powerful. Falling in love for the first time. Getting my heart broken. Breaking a heart. Making friends and taking risks. Being silly and stupid in public spaces. Realizing I was smart. Realizing I wasn’t always very easy to like. Learning how to fit. Learning I am not an easy fit. Learning how I liked to fold my laundry. Making my own choices. making mistakes. Taking the wrong turn. Making the very best of those wrong turns.
#3. The serendipity of a long ago friend prompting me out of my doldrums and saying, “Hey! There are things to be thankful about!” I am like my son in many ways, I need people to be willing to take a risk and step into my space. To not be deterred by my stiff resistance to help or intimacy. To have someone claim some small measure of me. For them to happily own a long ago sliver of time they had spent with me. And to know someone exists that was thankful they had me in their life if only for a small stretch. When you feel alone and isolated, it is often difficult to hear or know that you have value, that you matter (or mattered).
For these things I am thankful. And I will do Deb’s Five Days of Gratitude project. I am not sure I have 15 people that I would nominate for this each and every day, but I will try.