Lessons in Gratitude Day 286

Today has been a good day. As I have on most Wednesdays for the past ten months, I worked at the Berkeley Food Pantry, helping to prepare and distribute bags of food to about 60 people today. It can be heavy work, sometimes tiring, but always good. I am so grateful that I had the determination to pull myself out of my life funk last year and go start volunteering at the Pantry. As I’ve shared many times in this blog, the work we do at the pantry, as well as the people with whom I work and the people we serve has made my time there extremely valuable. I am glad to be part of the Wednesday crew.

I am grateful for many things this evening. For the most part, they are simple and relatively small in the scheme of things; but so much of what I am grateful for often is–the basic blessings that are part of every day life. This evening I had a really good conversation with my son. We talked about a lot of philosophical things–life purpose, God, politics–and more practical matters  like paying rent and what’s for dinner and that kind of thing. I have been realizing more and more as time passes that I am coming to another transition point: my daughter is moving away to go to graduate school and will be living more than an hour’s drive from me. For the first time in our lives together she will not be living close by. It is still uncertain at the moment how long my son and I will be living together. As I continue looking for a job, at the moment it is looking like the job might take me out of California and I will no longer be living with him either.

This is a big deal for me (as I’m sure it is for many parents) and I am trying to get a handle on it. I have been a single parent for over a dozen years–almost 14. And while I’ve had assistance from my ex-husband, it has been from a distance. For the most part, the day-to-day work of raising these kids who are now young adults was left to me. My son lived away from me for a few years during high school and returned to live with me about two years ago, and my daughter lived with me continuously before heading off to college four years ago. Even when they haven’t lived with me they have been a constant presence in my life in one way or another. Now my daughter is moving and, while we have no immediate plans, it is quite possible that my son and I will also live separately within the next few months. Now, some folks under similar circumstances might be saying, “Yippee! Let’s start the party.” I’m not quite so sure I am ready to celebrate this. I realize that I am at a new “letting go” phase; one that I’ve been heading toward for a little while now that has finally arrived.

What I am so grateful for as I ponder these upcoming transitions is how terrific my “kids” are. They are pretty cool human beings and I am so proud of who they are and who they are becoming. I’m so pleased at the conversations we have–even the disagreements that are indications of their own independent thinking, opinions, likes and dislikes, ideas and philosophies. I find myself working hard to understand their points of view, even and especially when I don’t agree right off the bat. I have learned to sit with the fact that I don’t know it all and in fact don’t know a lot of things and that my kids are now my teachers in many things. Again, this is inevitable, but it’s still new to me. And, I think I like it. Yep, I’ve got more work to do on the whole letting go thing. But I can let go knowing that they still know I will always be there for them in whatever ways I can and that they will be there for me as well. It doesn’t really get much better than that.

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