My Maths course finishes unexpectedly early. I received an email saying that the answers have been available online for the final Computer Marked Assignment, so the OU powers-that-be have decided to pull the plug on it. Which means I am finished on Monday. Nine months of work finished and my first OU course under my belt, 8.3% towards a degree (you can tell I have just finished a Maths course, eh?).
I am suddenly compelled to face up to the idea that as of next week, and for the next five months, I will have no studying to do. I will be left with housework and children. I love my family, but there is more to life than housework. It came as a bit of a blow to realise that there would be such a gap in my studying. Although there are other things that we have planned, it made me feel a little bereft.
So I decided to look again at Ann Voskamp’s website http://onethousandgifts.com/, to remind myself of her marvellous book. She reminded me that the best place to begin, whatever your emotions may be, is with thanks.
So I am going to list the five things that first occur to me as ‘things for which I am thankful’:
1. My lovely Tink, with her freckles, honey-coloured hair and violet eyes, who sits beside me doodling and then jumps up and announces she has thought of a new word. I smile and think how beautiful she is.
“What does that mean?” I ask.
“I think it could be the name of a lorry.” She says, before announcing she wants to continue her homework. She is researching the herb, coriander. She has written pages and pages. I am impressed.
Tink and Squidge love learning and because they don’t have access to the television, except on rare occasions, they choose (yes, choose) to occupy themselves in other ways – such as practising the piano, or creating ‘books’, or organising a gymnastics competition in the garden. I never hear the word ‘bored’.
I am thankful for my three beautiful, unique children.
2. Frank, who came in the room not long ago and planted a big smoochy kiss on my lips. He’s my hero. He rescued me. Rapunzel’s chap ain’t got nothin’ on my Frank. He’s patient (he puts up with me, for starters), gentle, placid, deep-thinking… one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known. We fit together. He doesn’t think I’m nuts… that’s got to be worth something, surely? Oh, and we never argue.
I am thankful for my husband and his presence in my life.
3. It’s not cold and it’s not raining. The sky might be covered in that very English damp grey (it’s a wonder English children draw the sky as blue – most of the time it’s Puddleglum grey) but the lack of chill and rain meant we could all go for a walk earlier, to the local shop, where we bought some nice food for tea (and we all came home safely, despite HRH shoving Squidge nearly into the road because she was ‘pushing past’ him. Autism!)
I am thankful for family time.
4. This time last year the five of us were cramped into a two bedroom flat across the road from a pub in a rather dodgy area. Frank and I were sleeping in the lounge and I was constantly paranoid about going out (my ex-husband was released from prison and sent back to live in the same area despite my having been told that would never happen).
I am so thankful to live in this sleepy English village, in a house with three whole bedrooms, a garden and the sound of horses’ hooves on the road outside, interspersed with the trilling of the little blackbird as he sits on my shed roof.
I am thankful for enough space.
5. I feel safe here. You have no idea how many years I spent not feeling safe. It’s wonderful.
I am thankful for not having to watch my back all the time. I can breathe.
So maybe I shouldn’t be desperate to make up for lost time. Maybe I should just be – and relax, and continue healing. It’s been such a long, hard journey. Maybe I should take this as an opportunity to have a rest (if one can rest being a mother of three monkeys) and be still.
‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIVUK)