My kids teach me a lot- all the time. And yesterday was no exception.
I woke up feeling bummed out. I tried to snap out of it, but sometimes the day just gets away from you before it even begins. I couldn’t find my smile.
And I wished that 2015 would just get here already. I was 100% done with 2014. Like a massive tidal wave, my mind was hit with one negative thought after another. This past year has not been easy.
I could feel myself tensing up as I remembered scary hospital times, countless doctor visits, repairs to the car, loved ones in crisis, misunderstandings, home repairs, Katie’s allergies, bills that need to be paid and family members that are struggling.
I wanted to sit down and cry. It’s been an overwhelming year filled with every emotion in the book.
As we drove into town to run errands, the kids could sense that I was not my normal self.
"What’s wrong, mom?" Emma asked.
"I’m ok," I tried to say casually, "just a little sad today."
"Why are you sad?" Katie asked. "It’s so pretty outside!"
I glanced back at her in the rearview mirror, and there she sat, big smile on her face, just gazing out at the scenery.
I thought about telling them everything I was thinking. About how I was feeling like we got the short end of the stick this year. That I couldn’t wait for it to be over so we could start with a blank slate.
But I couldn’t get the words out. Instead, I asked them a question- "What do you guys think about this past year? Was it a good year?"
This led to one of the best conversations we’ve ever had. And I got my smile back.
So, without further ado, here is what I learned from my kids about 2014. It wasn’t so bad after all.
1.We saw a miracle happen right before our eyes
My beautiful niece Zoe is alive. Just writing that sentence brings tears to my eyes. Every time I look at her sweet face, I whisper a prayer of thanks that God saved her. Yes, there were countless nights that we gathered and held onto each other and thought she might slip away from us. But she DIDN’T.
This experience taught my kids more than they’ll ever learn at school:
To never lose hope, to never give up, that it’s ok to sit and cry and hold onto each other, that sometimes you don’t need to talk at all, that a community of friends and family can come together in a powerful way, that miracles do happen, that there is a whole lot of hurting people out there, and that sometimes a hug is all someone needs.
Yes, it was scary. But it changed all of us forever.
2. We’re helping Katie get better one day at a time
This past year brought a lot of changes to our family in order to make Katie feel better. And everyone pitched in with their whole entire heart, because we love her to the moon and back. We all did an elimination diet, so she wouldn’t feel left out. Our kids helped rip out carpet and staples so we could put in new floors. We told our kids that our dog had to leave to make her better. My mom took him in and loved him for us for 6 whole months.
It was all really hard. There were many tears shed. But it’s WORKING.
3. Second chances do exist
After a failed Disneyland trip 2 years ago, we got a second chance this summer for a redo. Thanks to Disney and some free redo tickets, we were able to go again and create new memories that didn’t include throwing up in the hotel room the entire time.
Not everyone is out to get ya. There are a lot of good people out there.
4.We survived a two- week bout with Lice, and the stomach flu during a windstorm
My take on this is not as good as the kids, for obvious reasons. But as I listened to their take on it, I began to realize that Dave and I have become pretty awesome at this parenting thing. This year has made us tough as nails.
If you can keep your sanity after shaving your husband and sons heads to get lice out, you’re a rock star. If you can keep a smile after spending two weeks picking out nits from long hair, you are a rock star. If you can throw up to the glow of candlelight in the middle of the worst windstorm in years, you are a rock star. If you can catch puke that is running down the sliding glass door before it hits the floor, you are a rock star.
So yes it was bad and gross and disgusting. But we’re pretty freaking awesome for making it through in one piece.
5. I’m not going to die in my sleep now
Well, at least according to Ben. This year my doctor diagnosed me with mild depression, which took me by surprise in a HUGE way. I do think that he was right, but I also knew that there were underlying things that were making it worse. After many doctor visits, tests and sleep studies, I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. Now I have a super-cool CPAP machine that I wear at night and sound like Darth Vader. Good news is the kids are still pretty spooked at how freaky I look, so they don’t come wake me up as much. Bad news is it’s not very sexy at all. Sorry, Dave.
But, even when I brought this up as a negative thing that happened this year, Ben just looked at me and said, "Well, mom, at least you’re not going to die in your sleep now."
Yes, that is a good thing
6. We are all a lot braver than we believe, stronger than we seem, and smarter than we think
As we thought back over the year, we began to realize how far we had come. All five of us have had bumps and bruises along the way, but none of us have given up. We all had to conquer fears.
Katie didn’t cry once at her last round of shots. Ben persevered with his reading and is almost up to grade level. Emma entered middle school, which takes a lot of bravery in itself. Dave faced many challenges head-on, including going to help out with the devastating Oso mudslide. These things take courage. They take us WAY out of our comfort zone. They’re not always fun. But they help us grow.
This year took me WAY out of my cozy little zone, as I began having speaking engagements. I don’t feel qualified to do this at all, but God doesn’t call the qualified, right?
7. Family is forever
The good, the bad, the ugly. None of us are perfect. It’s messy to be in a family. It’s also beautiful and amazing and wonderful. We’ve stuck together this year- through it all. And if that doesn’t make me smile, I don’t know what will.
As I glanced back at each of their faces in the rearview mirror, I thanked God for using them to change my perspective. Each one of them had only good things to say about our year together. It’s a crazy, imperfect life. But we have each other. We have a lot to be thankful for.
My wish for you all as you ring in 2015 tonight, is that you know how much you are loved. Life is and will never be perfect. Even if this past year has been filled with sorrow, I’m challenging you to pick out one good thing. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Even if you have to say, "Well, at least I’m not going to die in my sleep now," at least that’s a start.
Just know that you are beautiful, and you are loved. And you have AMAZING things to offer this world that no one else can.
I can't wait to see what 2015 brings.