It’s my birthday week, and I have so much to be grateful for.
Last year, I wrote this post about 40 things I was grateful for because I turned 40. Life begins at 40. Forty is the new twenty…or so they say…but truth is, I wouldn’t mind looking like I was 30 again.
In the recent months I have noticed a few more wrinkles and quite a few more gray hairs. I have also realized that the damage I did to my body when I was a teenager and even in my 20’s has finally caught up with me.
But I digress, because I want to share a few things I’m grateful for here, instead of bringing in my ego, vanity, and how to age gracefully.
My husband’s family always likes to celebrate our birthdays by going out to lunch or dinner together. Even as we have all gotten older and added our children to the list of celebrations, that does not leave their parents (me and Nino) out in the cold, because we are still asked where we would like to celebrate our special day.
Last night we had dinner to not only celebrate my birthday, but my brother in law’s birthday which actually falls on October 10th. He is in New York with his beautiful wife and their two children having a celebration of his own, however, even if we couldn’t eat together, we surely said a little prayer of thanks while asking for yet another year of blessings for both of us.
Our yaya (nanny) for Gellibean has had the last few days off. She had asked to take a couple of more days off than usual this month because she had some friends visiting from the province. I also thought it was important for her to recharge, despite our plans for a nice night out to celebrate. I wanted my kids to be with us, because celebrating my birthday wouldn’t be the same without them. However, I knew it would be challenging to eat out with Gelli that particular evening because she didn’t have a nap, she has been fond of yelling in restaurants recently, and she insists on feeding herself which often leads to a big mess.
I asked my MIL if the restaurant was fancy. I wanted to dress the kids appropriately. She said it wasn’t so fancy but that she was wearing slacks and a nice top. In knowing this, I had an idea of what kind of restaurant they wanted to treat us to.
Truth: Gelli is three years old. She is loud. She screams when she gets frustrated. She eats by herself and lots of food ends up on the floor. When we are out to eat, the iPad usually goes with us, because she eats just a little quieter in a restaurant while she’s engrossed with Elmo. (Yes, I know, this can lead to another discussion about kids and technology…but let’s leave that for another post.)
I understand all of these things about my daughter. While there might be some times that I wish she wouldn’t scream, I wouldn’t have it any other way because she’s verbal. She is trying to express herself. I know she hasn’t fully found her words yet, so this is why she gets frustrated and often yells when we are trying to ask her to do something she doesn’t particularly want to do. I remind myself that she is three and that it’s ok if she is still learning social cues and when it’s acceptable to be loud and boisterous and noisy…but I also forgive her when she isn’t fully aware…
I am GRATEFUL that Gelli has a voice, that she is verbal, and that she is beginning to express her needs, wants, and feelings.
Truth: There are also times when Nino and I enjoy a quiet night out for dinner. If so, we make sure to choose a restaurant that will provide that.
While I know that 100 Revolving could be the restaurant to choose for special occasions and celebrations because of their higher price points, it’s not one that is uber exclusive. I liked that everyone was dressed casually, and it does have that vibe where you CAN come and eat with your family. There were other children Gelli’s age who were running around (of course being chased by their yayas) and it didn’t feel as though they were a disturbance. When I looked around the restaurant I saw mostly families dining…and all had at least two kids or more…
My husband knew that the couple behind us might have an issue once they sat down at the table that was just to our backs. He’s very intuitive that way, and I have referred to his “feelings” about people and how certain situations may unfold. He can often read a situation before it gets ugly, and has warned me in advance of the potential dangers or hazards when it concerns our kids.
At some point during our meal, my MIL pointed out that the couple behind us was getting annoyed by Gelli’s yelling. I was trying to get her to eat more pasta, and of course once she decided that she was done, there was no forcing her to eat anything else. I could tell that patience was running thin around our own table, but to be honest-I thought Gelli was doing great, considering the circumstances. She had been sitting already for an hour and was more than squirmy and wanted to get up and explore. Because Nino and I understood this fact, we offered her ice cream so that she would sit just a little while longer while we finished up our main course.
Unfortunately, the ice cream didn’t come fast enough. Gelli had a melt down while waiting. The couple got annoyed and moved tables in a huff and puff manner, and an uncomfortable silence fell on our table for about a minute.
I could tell that everyone was thinking about what had happened. I myself, was a little bit tense, but then I realized when the couple moved, it must have been their energy that I was feeling. As they moved to find a table that suited them better I had a few thoughts running through my own head.
- I was glad that I didn’t feel their energy anymore.
- I thought for a quick second that Gelli must have felt their energy too, because as soon as they stood up, Gelli was able to quiet down.
- Other things ran through my head, but mostly, I was just happy that I could continue to eat my salad.
Those other things that ran through my head? I’m not so sure I want to share them here. I have always tried to turn the negative into the positive because that’s what helps me get through…I don’t have my head in the clouds, I just try not to dwell on negative stuff. I’m not always good at it, and my husband can vouch for that, but it’s not the kind of stuff I want to perpetuate by writing about.
I am GRATEFUL for family and friends who understand and love and appreciate Gelli for exactly who she is. I am GRATEFUL for the patience they have for her in difficult situations like when she hasn’t had a nap all day, is out of sorts, and is even a bit naughty. I am GRATEFUL that whether Gelli is having a bad day or not, they love her just the same…even if she yells sometimes, causes a commotion or causes people to move tables in a restaurant where we are all out to dinner.
No one said parenting is easy. We all know it’s the most difficult thing we will do in our lives. There are no days off, you are caught off guard, and you are constantly challenged and pushed to your edge. Parents of kids with Special Needs? Well, that’s a different kind of club and that’s a different kind of edge…but still, we know we are all in for the long haul, and we also know we are in it together.
Truth: This is the first time that someone had expressed some kind of adversity or animosity towards my daughter openly.
And I am GRATEFUL that it took exactly 3 years, 1 month, 2 weeks, and 3 days for me to experience something like this…because I expected to feel it much sooner than this. I thought that my daughter would be subject to so much more judgement and negativity in her life because of her special needs, so the fact that I’m only feeling it now is actually O.K.
If I can put in a special birthday request To The Big Guy up Above? I would like it to be at LEAST another 3 years plus before I feel the way I felt last night again…and if I can pray for one more thing on top of that…it’s for my daughter TO FEEL NONE OF IT. EVER. AMEN.
If you would like to read about some of the other things I’m grateful for check out my first, second, third, and fourth posts for the Gratitude Challenge.
What an incredibly candid and honest post Michelle. I am grateful for parents like you who have the courage to speak openly about the challenges of parenting, especially when they find a way to demonstrate a balance between acknowledging the frustrations and finding a way to see the positives of the situation. My love and blessings to you and your beautiful family <3
Thank you Amanda. Thanks for stopping by the blog, and for the words of encouragement. I try really hard to keep it real and to keep it positive. I think it’s what gets me through the tough moments…that a lot of faith, and of course smiles and hugs from The Bean. Hugs for your kiddos!
Sugar and Spice says
Omg. We texted and I didn’t even greet you!! Happy birthday Michelle. May you continue to be an inspiration to many, many others! :-*
Thanks Jane. My birthday hasn’t come to pass yet 🙂 But it is my birthday week…and you know I like to celebrate! 😉 Hope to see you soon, my friend!
Peter A. Ressa says
Great post…loved every bit of it especially the photos of my dear grandchildren!
Thanks Dad. We all miss you so much.
You are an amazing mom – you have beautiful children and Gelli is such an amazing kid. It’s never easy to be a parent but people judge us very quickly without even trying to understand. Thanks for being real. Hugs. Hoping to meet you and Gelli some day 🙂
I feel like keeping it real with the positive spin helps me get through the not so pretty parts of parenting. I think it’s also easy to judge when you haven’t walked in the other person’s shoes. Maybe, this is where we are at an advantage as parents because of Alphonse and Gelli? They have given us the perspective to be a lot more empathetic. My awareness of children with all different special needs is heightened because of Gelli…I’m so much more aware, and I have Gelli to thank for that awareness. I am also a lot less likely to judge any other parent.
This is a really great post, Mish! I love how you are able to see the good in such an uncomfortable situation. You are so good at that.
And happy birthday! It isn’t your birthday yet, though, right? Hehe!
It was rough. I think it was rough on everyone. I left dinner feeling not so great, so I knew I had to talk about everything that happened with Nino. Once we talked about it, I knew how it could all come together so that we learned something from it. It was hard. Of course you know, I had to cry a little about it…
And yes 🙂 My birthday is on Wednesday 🙂 But it IS my birthday week…hehehehehehe….