Feeling gratitude during tough times
Sometimes it takes someone on the outside to plant a seed of thought that, over time, helps you to see things more clearly and appreciate all that you have. The most challenging part is allowing yourself to hear it in the first place.
"He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." — Epictetus
Recently, I spoke at length on the telephone with my grandmother, who will be 92 this year. She is sharp and wise and one of my favorite people.
When she asked how I was, I spoke to her of our infertility struggles, of nearly twenty months of heartbreak. Once she heard me out, she simply replied, “But dear, you already have two beautiful children. It's important that you are grateful for all that you’ve been gifted with already.”
And if I’m completely honest, I was rather hurt by her quick response... with what felt like her flippant attitude toward my pain. But, she’s my grandmother and I adore her, so I tried to let it go and chalked it up to her simply not understanding all that I was going through.
But, her words festered. She has five kids, what could she possibly know about the pain of infertility? Her advice burrowed into my mind and keeps rising to the surface of my thoughts.
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When I spoke with my mom days after the call with my grandmother and shared with her the advice I was offered, she told me that my grandmother always wished she could have had more children, but had suffered miscarriages... that she knew the pain of wanting more children, just as I do. She knows what it feels like to have to carry around that emptiness.
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Since speaking with my mother, my grandmother’s advice has actually served as a life preserver at a time when I thought I might drown in my sadness. Infertility wears on you over time and before you know it, you feel like you just might drown.
Perhaps it’s because I’m finally trying to come to grips with the fact that the third baby may not happen. We may forever be a family of four and I need to find a way to accept that. It’s much easier to be grateful in times when things run smoothly, but so much more challenging when life doesn’t go as planned.
Of course I’m still entitled to grieve over what might not be. And it’s OK to be sad. But when I look around, I’m surrounded by things for which I am truly grateful, much like my grandmother is.
Love isn’t measured by how many children we’re blessed with and neither should our gratitude be.
I am so incredibly grateful to my grandmother for her reminder when I needed it most.
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