Gratefulness

I was lucky.  I really was.  Every time I felt truly alone, I had to look around and see more of the reality of my every day life.

I had friends; great friends who never judged me and supported my ability to do or not do whatever might be going on.  There was of course my friend Karen, who had also moved home when I did, not having enjoyed the big university experience.  She moved home to work and go to school part time.

There was my friend Jewel, who had married her husband Paul that spring.  She was our age, so like my friend Dawn, was marrying far earlier than the rest of our graduating class.  But she was honest in her disinterest in going to college and going straight into the workforce.   I liked them both, and they were the only people we knew with their own place.

There was Dawn, who was going through her own unplanned pregnancy and ensuing life changes, who constantly asked me questions but always made me feel as if I had made all of the right choices.  She sought out and took my advice as if I was an authority on everything, and I appreciated the vote of confidence.

There was Yong, who had been my close friend in high school, but who had also gone away to college the previous year.  She called often and visited whenever she came home from school, clearly determined to keep the friendship despite the life changes that had gone on for both of us.

There was Mike, who had been friends with Joe and I in high school, but who had recently started to carpool with me down to the university.  He stopped by often just to talk, and never seemed phased by the advent of a dirty diaper mid conversation or the need for a burp or a bottle in between anything.

There was Mr. H, who met with me every few months just to talk.  We talked about school, my upcoming teaching experiences, my child, my circumstances, everything.  I couldn’t imagine what on earth he could be getting out of our incredibly lopsided relationship, but I was so incredibly grateful for the quiet, several hours long chats in a quiet corner of our local rowdy burger joint.

There were my sister’s friends A and B, who had both been married and had children in the past two years.  I gravitated toward them to feel more “normal”; they got it.  They could talk to me about how fast the babies outgrew their clothes or what solids were good to try when with a straight face, unlike most of the other twenty year olds I knew.

There was my father, who came over every other weekend like clockwork to spend time with his new grandson, as if he was the proudest grandfather that ever lived.  It was if he dared anyone to speak out against the circumstances of the child’s existence; this was his grandchild, and that was just all.  Period.

There was my sister, who announced her own pregnancy that summer, proud to add to the number of grandchildren, and who often would comment on how wonderful being a parent must be based on what she saw with me and Z.  It was a compliment to the highest degree.

Finally, there was my mother, who often would watch Z at night for me so I could spend a few precious hours with my friends trying to “act my age” after he went to sleep.  Or she would amuse him while I studied or typed up term papers.  My mother spent endless hours shopping for just the right pair of Osh Kosh overalls with matching shirt or socks, as any proud grandmother would.  Her work colleagues would send home small gifts or toys for him after seeing the endless photographs she proudly displayed in every inch of free office space.

If the outside world gave me shame for my circumstances, it was my close, close circle of family and friends that gave me the steel to rise above it.  Everyone who touched us made me feel like we were the most loved, most wonderful mother and son that they ever met.  And I have always, always been grateful for it.

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