Last year Thanksgiving was so chaotic- Eli was days old. We were still wearing hospital bracelets when we stumbled into my in-laws Thanksgiving party. It was a daze. I felt bad that the kids didn't have the full "mommy is all there" Thanksgiving experience. I didn't even know where they were half of the meal. This year would be different- I promised myself. This year, Thanksgiving would be AWESOME.
So we planned. We planned a big trip to Michigan to see my parents and all my siblings. I was so excited. The cousins would play. We would sit around the table for hours with cups of coffee and talk with family the way you can only talk with family. I helped plan the big feast. I sent over recipes. I imagined us all bustling around Mother's kitchen- hating each other and yet loving each other at the same time (as only siblings can do).
Our bags were packed. The day of departure arrived. Except a big snowstorm arrived as well, so we had to push off departure by one day since this was the first big snowfall for Aaron's snow removal business. It's okay- we would leave Thanksgiving morning. No worries!
Thanksgiving dawned early. 1AM, I was awake. Worrying. In a good Christian way, of course (ahem.)
I fretted about the long trip and the weather and Aaron's safety working and if we would get left that day at all.
I fell back asleep. 4 AM. I woke up and worried some more. By this point I was so tired I then worried that I would be awake enough to drive the long trip.
I got back up around 7- dusted off a blog post I wrote a week earlier, drank a cup of coffee, and braved the day.
All was well, until 30 seconds later when I went to lift Addison out of her room. Strangest thing- her entire face was covered with red sores. Hmmm. So were her hands. And arms. And legs. Whoa- they were everywhere.
Long story short- we cancelled the trip to Michigan as she had a bad case of the very contagious Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. Disappointed, I unpacked the bags while quickly figuring out how to rally the day for the kids.
I would still make Thanksgiving awesome!
I placed the pie dough in to chill, I put rolls on to rise, I whipped up a sweet potato casserole, I put chicken in the crockpot (since the turkey was frozen solid and singing "let it go"), I planned out the rest of the meal, and found that a few busy hours in the kitchen revived The Plan.
Somewhere in there Aaron arrived home, exhausted from his night out. Somewhere in there I medicated Addison for the itching and placed cream on her sores. Somewhere in there I fed the baby and entertained Carter.
The kitchen was humming, delicious smells were filling the house, children were quietly playing- so much to be thankful for!
Addison colored our Thanksgiving tablecloth, and I taped the construction paper pumpkins and turkeys the kids had made earlier in the week on the wall. The serving area was ready.
(I took shockingly few pictures of our magical day)
I was taking the plates to the table when I heard it.
In the hallway.
I ran to the hallway and there was Carter Henry, doubled over. The baby was crawling quickly to explore this fun new texture!
Carter spent Thanksgiving meal moaning on the couch with a bucket. Addison was scratching sores at the table. The baby was happily banging on the table for "MORE FOOD NOW!" before throwing most of it on the floor. Aaron looked ready to drop into the green bean casserole.
Just one big happy family.
We somehow stumbled through the meal. We then did baths- separate baths for every child- disinfecting after each one.
Aaron then immediately passed out (who can blame him- he was up all the night before.)
I got all the kids in bed, except Addison obviously wasn't feeling well because she wouldn't settle down.
I pulled her out to sit with me on the couch and watch a show. She loved this (although she spent the entire time crazily wriggling in an attempt to scratch while sitting still.) Finally around 9pm, she let me put her back in her room after more cream on her sores and more medicine.
Perfect. I was exhausted. It had been a long day, and I was ready for bed!
And then I heard it.
In Carter Henry's room.
I ran to him, helping him to the bathroom, changing clothes, sheets, and wiping up his room. I held him. I took his temperature. I wiped his brow with a cold cloth. I tucked him back in his bed and lay there with him, stroking his forehead and telling him that this couldn't have happened to a "nicer little boy."
When at last he started to settle, I snuck back to my bed. Oh blessed bed! How long it had been!
And then I heard it.
In Carter Henry's room.
Same thing again. Helping him to the bathroom, changing clothes, sheets, and wiping up his room.
By the time I finally coaxed him to sleep, it was late. I was tired, cranky, and mad that Thanksgiving was considerably less than awesome.
Oh yeah, and somewhere in there before passing out- Aaron informed me that we have a mouse. Somewhere in the house. Taunting me. Tiptoeing around me. Terrorizing me. A.mouse.
Doing the math of the day, the sum of my additions did not end in Thankfulness. I wanted the magic! The warm fuzzy feelings! The happy family portrait!
And yet I was left with sick children, an exhausted husband, a mouse ridden house, an unappreciated meal, and- well- isn't that enough?
Sometimes it's hard to be thankful. It's hard to hold the pieces of perfection in your hands and be thankful for the brokeness.
And yet looking back now as our weekend spent together as a family- talking, cleaning, organizing, eating- we would never have gotten this weekend if we weren't all quarantined all together. We would have the busyness of the trip and rehearsals and church and nursery and- the list was endless. We wouldn't have been tearing apart and organizing and scrubbing down as a team if there wasn't Terrorist Mouse putting us on alert.
We have spent the last three days just being- together. The day after Thanksgiving, Carter was well and I could tell that Addison was noticeably more comfortable.
But really- I would rather the warm fuzzy family portrait moments be scattered a little bit every day rather than only clumped together on one big day.
Because I am overwhelmingly thankful. I am thankful for it all- for the painful Thanksgivings and the ability to get through it as a family. To emerge the other side even more thankful for the boring, normal days.
Motherhood is hard, and sometimes it makes certain days seem impossibly difficult. But honestly I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am thankful for motherhood.
Thankfulness isn't about a beautifully decorated table and a turkey brined to perfection. Thankfulness is what holds you up on the days when everything falls apart. Thankfulness is the hand holding yours as you stumble through the valley. Thankfulness is the shoulder you can rest on when you just can't do it one more time.
And so, this Thanksgiving- I am thankful. Because even though the day was less than awesome- through it all I am reminded what really matters:
feeding your child a snack before you take his picture.
Well, that and other things.