Since they could write, my sons have been writing me notes. The first one ever, written on the back of a paper napkin ring from Old Chicago's, my oldest wrote some sort of message in 3 year-old scroll thanking me. Likely for ordering him French Fries with his pizza. I've carried it in my wallet for years.
This year, like many years past and also like every single person in the Pinterest/Instagram/Facebook/Internet world, I too started a 365 grateful projects of sorts. I opted to leave it without definition, thinking that this would surely enable me to stick with it. Each day I would write a little sonnet or verse, or take a photo, or even just tape my fortune from my Chinese take-out on a page. This time I would see it through. Every day. Because after all, how hard is it to get take-out and find tape, right? Certainly easier than committing to taking 365 pictures over the next year, theme or not.
We are a good three weeks into the year. My last entry reads January 4th. Don't get me wrong—I've thought about it A LOT over the last 17 days. I have beaten myself up almost daily for forgetting, or rather ignoring, my gratitude. How dare I? Ungrateful bitch that I am, how dare I not jot down that sweet little joke the youngest told me? Thankless am I to not print out the picture of this damn blind dog looking all cute in my lap while I am trying to work a mere 12 days ago. Unappreciative is the nicest thing someone could say about a woman who doesn't write down when her amazing boyfriend (a word she isn't even comfortable with at the age of 34) says: "Oh, you're still out of my league. I've just accepted the fact that you're slummin' it. And I'm grateful for that." Sure, I typed it in my phone in that moment, thinking that I would in fact transfer this little gem into my Big Beautiful Book Of GRATITUDE. This quote was made for My Big Book. And yet, somehow watching the plane crash episode of Grey's Anatomy on Netflix made it on to my schedule—more than once—in the last week, but I just can't seem to find the 10 seconds to get a pen and My Big Book and write this shit down. In my defense…..have you seen the plane crash episode? As someone who resisted watching Grey's for years, as the very person who rolled her eyes at all of you acting like it was the most amazing show ever for the last decade, I say to you: I was wrong. If you do nothing else today, watch an episode of Grey's and see how it relates to EVERY ASPECT OF YOUR LIFE. Probably.
My reason for not keeping up with The Big Pain In My Ass Book is actually quite simple: I screwed up to the point of no return. I missed a day. And then because I missed that one, I had to miss all the others. Because then I could just fail and be done with it. Which is way easier than making my own rules, the very beginning of how this was supposed to go, and just being grateful whenever I am, and documenting it whenever I can. The very rules and perimeters I put around this project were the very things that I was using as my reason for not doing it.
Yesterday I got a text from a beautiful almost 14 year old girl that I refer to as my faux step-daughter, but the man that is grateful for my slummin' it prefers me to refer to as pre-step-daughter, or really anything else really but a word that essentially means fake. It was a nothing text really—I get something similar to it every day from her, typically a teenage request that falls on some level between "I'll die if if this doesn't happen" and "This is so important, I need you to drop what you're doing and answer me now before I die" and it started as they always do lately:
Do you see it? It's subtle. (Much more subtle than the teenage texting abbreviations that drive me crazy to no end that I am vowing to stop being all grown-up about starting now.) And maybe you have to be divorced or a single mom or in a relationship/blended family……or be me……to see it. She groups me with her father. I am being granted the highest of honors, the biggest of trust, in her world. Or......she just knows that between me and her father, I'm the one that's going to know what she is talking about and will respond quicker. End run or not, she asked me. I am now a de-facto parent to this amazing girl and her two younger sisters. And I'm grateful for that every day.
But how do you journal that? How do I put that in my Big Book That Nags At My Soul Much Like Failure Does all neat and pretty and crafty and creative? And if I don't print out the text or just write it down on the proper page or maybe draw something symbolic about it, never mind that I don't draw, am I less grateful? Is the project a failure before it even began? Will I remember all of these things that happened if I don't write them down in this big fancy book that was practically made for this project? Are these projects just scrapbooking, cleverly disguised to make you feel the optimum level of guilt only appropriate in January?
I don't know. But damn you Pinterest and your sassy sister sites of guilt, making many of us feel like ungrateful and un-crafty failures.
And on that note, I'm teaching a class on social media this summer.:)
This little blog that I have started writing in semiannually of late and I have been in our rocky relationship for a solid decade now. It used to be where I went to write, to show photos, for therapy, and sometimes just to have a place to lay out the thoughts in my brain. But then I started writing in other places, delivering photos to clients instead of taking the extra time to post them here, and going to an actual therapist. The thoughts in my brain still needed a place to breathe, but that took a backseat to more important things like Facebook and Pinterest. This year I am hoping to return here more often. Not in a way infused with guilt, but rather in a "let's just go ahead and tape another damn fortune on the next page 17 days later and be fine with it" sort of way.
Happy 2014 folks. Let's go a little easier on ourselves this year. :)