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Thanksgiving

Welcome to the November 2012 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Gratitude and Traditions This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children. This month our participants have written about gratitude and traditions by sharing what they are grateful for, how they share gratitude with their children, or about traditions they have with their families. The Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival will be taking a break in December, but we hope you will join us for the great line up of themes we have for 2013! ***  
It’s Thanksgiving season in the States. I’m not American, but I am thankful.
My life over the last year seems to have been an exercise in the Nietzsche quote, “that which does not kill me makes me stronger.” I was pregnant with nowhere to live, coming off anti-depressant medication with an on-off partner causing me untold stress. Then I was moving house at 33 weeks pregnant with no basic necessities like flooring, saucepans or a cooker. Then I was in labour 5 weeks early. Then I was in hospital for 2 weeks with a jaundiced, premature baby under the care of NICU. Then I came home to a flat whose roof had leaked so badly the bedroom wall was drenched. Then I was unceremoniously dumped via text message and became the single mother of a tiny baby. Then I was dealing with accusations and abuse from S’s father as well as finding out some particularly unpleasant things I wish I’d known sooner.
Would I rather things were different? I’m not so sure. Yes, I would like to have a partner. I would like S to have a father in her life. I would definitely prefer to be able to look back on my pregnancy and the birth of my beautiful daughter with more happiness. But on the other hand, all of those things, all the pain and the tears and the fear and negativity, have brought me to where I am now. It hasn’t killed me, and it has definitely made me stronger.
When you split up with someone who has had a somewhat detrimental effect on your life and wellbeing, one would generally be heard to utter such phrases as “I wish I’d never met him.” I can’t say that; I can’t regret meeting S’s father because that would mean I wouldn’t have her. And despite all the trouble we’ve had, I have never once regretted having her, even for a second.
The famous serenity prayer used in 12-step meetings the world over asks, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” I cannot change this situation. I have spent much of the last year trying to change the unchangeable, blindly banging my head against a brick wall that has not moved an inch. So now, I have to accept the situation, and be grateful for what has led me to be in this position.
Being pregnant and having nowhere to live has made me so grateful for having somewhere to live now, and being housed before S was born – it turned out to be a fairly close call! The fact the house was completely unfurnished, whilst being a bit inconvenient, meant I was able to choose everything and make it mine and S’s in its entirety. I will be eternally grateful to my friends S and B who drove down here from Oxfordshire while I was still in hospital to decorate S’s room, assemble furniture, and unpack boxes so that when we did come home, it looked more like “home” and less like something from a shocking exposé documentary. The fact we had so little provided an opportunity for my friends to show their staggering and incredible worth. A friend from a church I’ve not attended for fifteen years arranged for one of his fellow churchgoers to come and paint over the damp left by the leaks. Numerous friends and family members gave me kitchen equipment, baby clothes, furniture, toys, books. My brother has proved himself worth his weight in gold by laying floors throughout the house, and by acquiring me a washing machine and fridge-freezer. My sister’s boyfriend has come round and put things up for me. My sister Z has played taxi for me more times than I care to remember, picking up shopping and furniture orders to save me money on delivery charges. She also helped me to choose paint when I was given a compensatory decorating voucher by the council, and did some painting too.
The fact S was born 5 weeks early was very scary for me, both because I felt entirely unprepared for it, and because of the risks associated with a premature birth. We are both so lucky that she was born healthy and relatively large, and although we were in hospital for 2 weeks, only two days of that was spent in NICU, and a lot of parents and babies are in a much worse situation. As one of the nurses said to me at the time, it seems terrible being hospital for 2 weeks now, but it’s just 2 weeks at the start of the years you have to come. I am thankful that she is happy and healthy, and at 7 months old, you wouldn’t know how tiny and delicate she was when she was first born
The situation with S’s father is more complicated and unpleasant, but ultimately I am thankful that things ended when they did, before anything bad could happen, before S was old enough to understand anyone had disappeared from her life. Things are far from ideal, but they are definitely the best they can be, under the current circumstances. I am grateful for all the help and support I have received from so many different people and places in the last few months. People I would not have expected anything from have turned up here with a friendly face, a shoulder to cry on, encouraging words, food and smiles. They made me finally realise that I don’t need that in my life, that I can do this on my own and do it better than as a part of that particular couple.
It really is true: that which does not kill me really does make me stronger. I’ve had simultaneously the worst and best year of my life, and now I know that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined. If I were American, I would be spending my Thanksgiving remembering all the reasons I am so very lucky.
*** APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next year’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!   Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants: (This list will be live and updated by afternoon November 30 with all the carnival links.)

Vicky is a mother, a blogger, a podcaster and a social media trainer. She writes about life as a single mother, parenting and lifestyle type things.

4 Comments
  • Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction

      REPLY

    You&#39;ve definitely had a rough time, but the fact that you realize that you can grow from that and see the good is wonderful.<br /><br />My mom&#39;s experience with my own birth was similar to yours, with respect to having no partner early on. For us, it meant that mom and I faced a lot of challenges together, and we were much closer for it. I don&#39;t look back with any regret or feeling

  • Amy Willa

      REPLY

    Vicky, <br /><br />How wonderful that your family has helped you establish a safe and healthy home for you and your precious baby girl! Definitely something to be Thankful for!

  • Mandy @ Living Peacefully with Children

      REPLY

    I&#39;m sorry you have had such a rough time, but I love that you are looking for the positive. Sometimes the worst things bring about the best. Peace to you!

  • sustainablemum

      REPLY

    What a year you have had but so much to be grateful for. Sometimes it is good to slow down, reflect and treasure what you have.

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