I am exhausted.  My whole family, including me, got struck with a horrendous stomach bug.  Work has been insanely busy.  I have been cranky and irritable.  I wake up unable to go back to sleep for hours in the middle of the night, my heart racing with anxiety and stress.  I’ve been moving at such a frenetic pace.  I actually managed to meet up with a friend one evening this week, after fighting tooth and nail to meet a deadline and avoid canceling, but it took a significant portion of the evening for me to relax and actually enjoy the time with her and her daughter, and my own daughter even.

I have not been fully present with myself, my daughter, or my husband this week.  I became so wrapped up in work and deadlines, failing to disconnect and leave things to finish the next day, that I truly lost sight of what really matters.  I completely lost perspective.  I mean, my daughter took her first two steps at daycare this week, and while I was excited and happy to hear this, I still haven’t fully acknowledged the momentousness of this milestone!

Thankfully I was able to participate in an event that helped give me the wake up call I needed.  I had my first volunteer event with the March of Dimes.  A holiday party at a local NICU for the families with babies inside.  We provided dinner, handed out quilts for the babies, and provided toys and a visit with santa for older siblings.  As I watched these parents, especially the mothers, I was reminded how trivial some things, that we tell ourselves are so important, really are.  These parents are watching their baby, or babies, fight to survive, to breath, to eat, to go home.  I saw some parents already far into their journey, possibly not even their first, as well as those just beginning.  Seeing the mothers not yet released from the hospital themselves brought me back to my first trip to the NICU.  I remember that long walk from my recovery room, I insisted on walking, leaning on both my husband and the hosiptal grade pump on wheels I had been provided.  I remember the excitement and the fear I felt in anticipation of really meeting my daughter for the first time.  I also remember the feelings of helplessness and inadequacy.

Meeting these parents, and families, as well as the other volunteers, filled my heart with gratitude, and helped remind me of how much I have and need to appreciate.  Naturally I can’t ignore my job or my assignments, but I can work to maintain perspective about where these things really fall in the hirearchy of my life.  I don’t have to let myself become so stressed and anxious that I lose sight of what’s really important.  I may not have control over assignments and deadlines, but I have control over my reactions.

I think it’s easy for all of us to lose perspective from time to time.  When your family is happy and healthy it can become easy to take them for granted, and to fail to appreciate the miraculousness of it.  Sadly, it is sometimes only when tragedy strikes that we realize how much we have to lose and to be thankful for.  This doesn’t have to be the case though.  If we slow down and take the time to look around us, we can easily start to see how much we actually do have to cherish.  And if we maybe find that something more is missing, well then we can actually take the time to find it – but you can’t find something you aren’t even looking for.

The fact is I have a beautiful, healthy, and happy daughter, and a wonderful husband.  Next week I get to watch my daughter open presents on Christmas morning, and I might very well get to watch her walk around as she enjoys her gifts.  These are the things that matter.  These are the things I appreciate.  These are the things that get me through the long days.

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Also, after the event they let me pick out a quilt from Project Linus and a book to bring home to my baby girl.  We’ve enjoyed cuddling and reading together with these sweet gifts.

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