Grateful through the Grit

About this time, everyone is publishing their obligatory Christmas posts about how grateful they are for family and holiday gatherings and days off of work.

This is NOT that post. This is about being “that” mom in a Target the day after Christmas.

Something was off about the day. I couldn’t put my finger on it. We were all exhausted from Christmas – not from libation hangovers but from jovially chugging celebrations from both families. Husband went off to work, and since I’m off until the 2nd with the school system, I got to stay home with Shiloh. After spending the morning playing stay-at-home-mommy, I became antsy and wanted to go out. I should’ve known by his ominous whining that something was amiss, but I ignored it along with my unwashed unkempt hair and haphazard appearance. I just needed to get out of the house. So after getting us buckled, I gave him half a granola bar, brought juice, and thought I had it all under control.

Anyone with kids knows the whole business of readjusting them to their normal schedules after a holiday is just about as enjoyable as giving your cat a bubble bath. As a first time mom, I underestimated this factor until I wound up in the Target pharmacy family restroom, sweating from a surgical-menopause hot flash, realizing I forgot to take my medicine, trying to go to the bathroom (because honestly after radical surgery and a baby it’s a blessing to go every few days), and holding my child on my lap because he absolutely refused to stand next to Mommy and wanted to be held.

Exhausted, I got out of the restroom and strapped him back in the cart and prayed my body temperature would regulate as I sweat through my husband’s t-shirt and popped cereal into my child’s mouth. My Starbucks cup was buried somewhere under our coats and boxes of mac & cheese, and I didn’t care as long as the scarlet cart wasn’t dripping my caffeine. I only needed a few more things.

After Shiloh finished fishing the crunchy marshmallows out of the lunch bag, he began dropping the oat shapes onto the floor like breadcrumbs every few feet. My sincere apologies to the team members at Target for the mess. I wore the red and khaki before I became a teacher, but it just was not my day.

I wanted to make it look like I cared when someone gave me a side eye, but I didn’t. I just wanted to make it out with sanity intact. We were in the home stretch when Shiloh decided to try to roll around in his seat, twisting his body and yelling “BA?!” as if I hadn’t fed him a few minutes ago. Another hot flash and glares from people around us. I also realized I haven’t eaten all day.

I was now “that” hot mess momma in the grocery store with the loud child. In my head, I steel guarded my heart and preconstructed a retort in case anyone were to say something to me. If I were ever in a situation where I would play infamously on loop on someone’s social media feed, I at least wanted to look cool and not like I was unraveling. Grabbing a potato, throwing it into the cart, holding Shiloh on my nonexistent hip, and steering away, it was time to go.

Hot flash number three. In the check lane, I tried to get everything on the belt as fast as possible. Grabbing my wallet, I found the two gift cards and pulled up a coupon on my phone. As I turned back around, Shiloh grabbed a can of tuna off the belt, slammed it to the floor, then waved “bye-bye” to it. It is hysterical now, but at the time I wanted to scream.

When I got us settled in the car, he stopped yelling. I used the jug of milk I just bought and sat in the driver’s seat and filled a bottle – because somehow he chugged all the juice I brought and only wanted milk.

I pulled into the parking spot in front of our town home, my pants damp from the sweet tea I spilled on myself and the seat during the ten minute drive, and looked to the back seat. Shiloh was blissfully unconscious. I took him upstairs to his room, let the dog out, took my pills, got all the bags into the house, and crashed on our onyx couch then waited for the world to stop spinning.

My point in all this is that it’s incredibly easy to be thankful and grateful when things are easy – when all the Christmas lights are just perfect, when gifts are still newly opened and the bright colored wrapping paper is still on the floor – when all the family is together eating and singing and celebrating –

– when the CT scans come back all clear – when your hair begins to prickle back – when I finally look like I just have a hip haircut instead of having suffered from cancer –

– but true gratefulness is being grateful through the daily grit.

I’m grateful that I even get to have those hot mess momma moments in the store because this time last year I couldn’t drive. I didn’t have hair to be unkempt and holding my child took almost everything out of me between infusions of chemo.

I’m still learning, but I’m grateful I’m still alive to keep learning.

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

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