Sunday, May 11, 2014

40 things I am thankful for on my 40th birthday

Every few years my birthday falls on Mothers Day. This year happens to be Mothers Day and my 40th birthday.  

I am taking time today to "count my blessings". 
Here is my list of 40 things I am thankful for on my 40th birthday. 
Yes, I know it looks like a list of 10 things, but- trust me- there are 40 things in there (there may be more....I kind of got muddled counting)!! 

1. I am thankful for my mother and father, without whom I would not be here! My parents made sure I had everything I needed as I grew up, and are to this day always there when I need support. I don't call on them as often as I used to, but I know they would be here in an instant should I say I needed them. 

2. I am thankful for my Wonderful Husband, without whom I would not be mother to my children. My hubby is an amazing guy.... hard working, persistent and self-sacrificing. He is my love and my best friend and I would not want to be without him. 

3. I am thankful for my children. 6 of the best things I ever did. Each an individual, each with their own strengths and challenges, each a privilege to have in my life.

4. I am thankful for my siblings. 3 people who have known me their whole lives, who still like to spend time with me occasionally! I miss the times we all lived close together, but I know we are all in the right places, living our lives well. I am thankful for their partners and children.... my extended family, and people my kids would be happy to turn to in the event I couldn't be here for them. 

5. I am grateful I had the opportunity to grow up in a culture different than my birth culture. The experiences of my high school years formed the way I view the world, and helped me to become understanding of the need for compassion toward those who are from different backgrounds than our own. 

6. I am thankful for old friends. These are people who I have known since high school that I still love to chat with. They understand things about the way I think because of experiences we shared that no one else gets. They are in the stories I tell my kids about "when I was growing up", and are in the  memories of simpler times I cherish. Because of them I have little to draw on when my teenaged kids tell me of difficult experiences I am led to believe are "typical teenage relationships". Because of them I grew up feeling valuable and understood. I will be forever grateful. 
Bel bilong mi i amamas tru long yupela wantok bilong mi.

7. I am thankful for the friends of my adulthood. These are the friends I made as a young parent. We learned some tough lessons together. We supported each other through the days that followed sleepless nights, learning how to navigate parentings tough decisions, and through unexpected diagnoses. We've done this in person when we lived near, and continue to do it over the phone now that we live further apart. Here I give a special mention to my kids godmother who countless times has leant her listening ear to allow me to process my thoughts and her gentle wisdom to support me in tough decisions, and the kids godfather who has welcomed us his into family's home and lives unreservedly.  

8. I am thankful for friends in my local community. These are the people who I see daily, the parents of my kids best friends,  the people who support me and my family and who I hope I support in some way too. They put up with my bad mood days when I have Uni work due, they are on hand to pick up my kids from school if I'm running late from an appointment, they invite me to do stuff with them when they know I likely won't be able to- just so I know I am thought of and welcome, and they check up on me if I go "missing" when I am super busy.   

9. I am thankful for online friends in the Autism community. Many of these people are Autistic, and amazing advocates for themselves and for Autistic children. Some of them are parents of Autistic children who love and accept their kids exactly as they are. I am grateful that these people speak up about things that need changing in our world, sometimes at great personal cost. I am grateful that they give of their own time to answer my questions. These people have helped me challenge the generally accepted discourse around Autism, and as a result I am changed and my parenting is changed, for the better. 

10. I am thankful for the privilege of living in a well resourced place in the world, where I have access to good food, comfortable housing, running water, electricity, warm clothes, technology, choices, education that helps me know which choices are wise, opportunities to better myself, the freedom to express my opinion without fear for my life, and for people in my life who are not afraid to speak up and help me to appreciate all of this. I am also thankful for those who are helping me learn how to use my privilege in a way that benefits others.