I havent written as many personal columns this year because, frankly, this year has been hard.
Some years bring you to your knees, I guess. Im not sure; Ive never had one quite like this.
Both of my parents have been dealing with serious illnesses, and Ive found myself suddenly caught in the sandwich generation, straddling the duties of caring for a parent and a child, juggling work and household responsibilities, crying at stoplights in the middle of the day.
It hasnt been easy. I didnt know I had so many tears.
The silver lining is that once youve endured enough parking decks, emergency room visits, scary diagnoses, tests, treatments, side effects and home health care nurses, the stuff you used to worry about seems pretty silly.
Like school track-out sessions. I used to say the word track-out like Jerry Seinfeld used to say Newman.
Its actually been OK this time, however. That could be because my 10-year-old son simply agrees with everything I say.
Were going to read every day, I swear, I say. You better be ready.
Or: You better get down here this minute! This is the third time Ive asked you. No more screen time for the rest of the day!
Youre right. Im sorry.
That boy has figured me out. Right when Im ready to unleash my frustration, dole out punishments and teach lessons, he shuts me down with apologies and agreements. Oh, I know there will be push-back and protests, probably very soon, so Im enjoying this while it lasts. When he gets unruly, I threaten track-out camp, and that gets him back in line.
Occasionally, Ill add Go clean the bathroom! And he does that, too. Im particularly enjoying that little bonus.
With so much else on my plate, maybe Ive learned to relax a little about what hes doing and not doing. As my sister said, Just enjoy him.
And if he plays too many video games a few days during track-out while I work, so be it. That sounds bad, but there it is. We do a lot of productive, efficient stuff, and some days, I just need a break.
My husbands been amazing picking up the slack and letting me dissolve when I need to. One day he rescued me from the hospital parking lot. I had a dead battery, and it just about sent me over the edge after being in the emergency room all night.
He gave me a big hug and let me wipe my face on his shirt.
Go home and go to bed, he told me. I did. Right after I ate a big bowl of ice cream. So there.
Another bright spot: Madge. Our 10-month-old Great Pyrenees/black Lab mix weighs 80 pounds now. Madge, the $100 shelter dog that ended up needing a $1,300 surgery at 8 months old, but, oh my, how I love that dog.
Its sinful how much I love that dog. She had to wear the cone of shame after her surgery. We couldnt bear to make her sleep in her crate with the cone on. Her book, How to Go From the Crate to the Bed in Six Weeks should be out soon.
Shes a bed hog, and her heft numbs my legs regularly. She eats my son. She chews the laundry while I fold it, and Ive lost one phone charger and four pairs of shoes to her pearly puppy teeth. But that dog follows me with her big cow eyes and sits with me when Im sad. And when Im happy.
And she rides in the car with me and looks at me adoringly, and its just too much. Too much blessing in one dog.
I walk her every day. Some days well pass by a farm with big black cows grazing by the road, and she just knows she is one of them; shes just a little smaller, but otherwise they look the same. And she cranes her head in their direction until she cant see them anymore.
Maybe next time, I tell her.
And now, look how long Ive gone on when I didnt know where to start. Maybe thats what counting blessings is all about taking our mind off the hard things and focusing on those things that help us endure.