I remember years ago a conversation I had with a friend of mine’s mother after church on a Sunday. We had just found out we were pregnant, and my friend was too, and we were all celebrating together about the exciting time that was ahead. After having experienced a loss before, my heart was guarded to jumping in at full speed, but the more we chatted, the more I let that guard down.
There were so many unknowns, and while some unknowns are nerve-wracking, these were thrilling. What was a kick going to feel like? Would I notice it? Or a roll even? Who would this baby become? What mark would they leave on this world? Who’s features would they favor, mine or my husband’s? And while I got the sense already that this baby would be stubborn like me, would they have a hint of their daddy’s laid back personality? I could only hope.
At that point all I could do was day-dream about this sweet soul whose body was growing day by day. Nothing mattered more to me than making sure that little baby would arrive here in mint condition, that’s if I had anything to do about it! And when I say nothing mattered, I mean it. Even my body. My friend’s mom and I laughed about the little belly pooch that was I excited to sport, knowing that it made what was happening feel real since others could now see it too. As I laughed about how I guessed my bikini days were over, she rubbed my arm and told me to not care about that little bump and what it would or wouldn’t allow in the future. But to celebrate it now and show it off. Because in a year from now, she predicted, I would wish I had the body I had before. She challenged me to be happy with what I have today because tomorrow, change could happen.
She was right. I never expected to be that pregnant woman who would gain over 65 lbs, and that was a lot to handle for this 5’2” frame. And imagine gaining that much and more three times over; it definitely has taken a toll on this gal. I wouldn’t change it for the world, no way. I cherish my babies. But my friend’s mom was right. I should have flaunted that bikini bod when I could because now this momma’s stomach will never again see the light of day even though I’ve be fortunate enough to lose all of the baby weight.
Yes I’ve always loved makeup and when I was younger, I did like keeping up with the trends, but I’m not sure I’d ever say I was vain. I always knew life wasn’t about appearances, but having a baby like really make me learn that. I’ve retired the black eye liner at times and even leave the house with two-day old hair now-a-days. Priorities have changed for sure, and making sure that have my dark circles covered doesn’t matter. Really. That random acne that those of us in our 30’s are not supposed to get, well I just own it. And no one has to know that sometimes I have to tuck my belly in thanks to its lack of elasticity now, unless your my daughter who decided to take a peak during a random check to make sure momma too has a belly button.
Nope. I’m just happy that I have a belly and one that functions properly. I am thankful that space occupied a few kids and despite several concerning times during each pregnancy, it blessed my life with all three. No stretch mark will ever shield my gratefulness.
So when my son and I sat down to pray the other night before bed, I was reminded of this conversation many years before when he was that sweet little bun in the oven. I try to teach him that prayers are meant to not just ask God for things, but to use them as a direct line to thank Him for what we do have. It’s a tough concept for little ones, but this one night I think the concept finally sunk in.
For Christmas I got a new warm throw blanket that Eli has slowly started to steal from me. We were cuddling with it as we said our prayers, and when it got to the point to where we started offering up prayers or petition, he told me he wanted to thank God for the “comfy cozy”, the name he has decided to give this new blanket. Yes, I do agree that the warmth and family time the blanket provides is worth thanking God for, but I thought it was a prime time to make sure that Eli knew what other things we should be grateful for.
I shared that not everyone has a blanket, so we should be thankful that while this one is extra soft, we are lucky to have one altogether. He burrowed his eyebrows, confused. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that our kids are spoiled. Just look at the toys they have under the tree from this Christmas. But we try hard to be minimalists where we can, and be thankful for what we have. I realized that his confused look was because he had never thought of the fact that some people didn’t have a blanket at all. And hence the conversation began.
We talked about our house, and how we should be thankful for having shelter each night and beds to sleep in. And food, Eli chimed in. Yes, not everyone gets to choose from so many food options each day and some don’t even know the next time that they will get to eat. And we have cars, two to be exact. No, Eli, some people don’t have any to get them from point A to point B. Oh, he was surely grateful for our cars then, and especially the van because it’s extra roomy.
Our prayer evolved to talk about the people in our lives. I explained how lucky he was to have a momma and a daddy. That not everyone has theirs still. Yeah, that may have been too deep of a topic, but after I said it I could tell he immediately understood. He let out a gasp, but then he acknowledged that while that may not be so great, their mommas and daddys were in heaven, right? Yes, sweet boy, they are there waiting for those they love. He quickly turned to his daddy, saying how thankful he was for both of us.
As I rubbed on his legs, cuddled up next to me we talked about how grateful we should be for our legs and hands and eyes. Not everyone has those, and even hair. Hair? Yes, Eli, some people lose their hair when they are sick or if they are like daddy, it just happens as they get older. We had some fun laughing at daddy on that one. Whew, because again I thought I had taken the conversation a bit too far for my sweet five-year-old.
And as our prayer conversation came to a close, I gave him a squeeze and a kiss that he tried to wipe off and before he walked to his room, I told him that we should all be thankful for what we have today. And I definitely made sure that he knew that He is one of my special things I am most thankful for.
That sweet boy was the one in my belly when I had that conversation with my friend’s mom. He started the downhill spiral of the stomach I once had, yet in praying with him that night I realized how grateful I am for all that I do have. Yes, today I have hands that can write and legs that can take me places. I have eyes to see each of their sweet smiles and arms to wrap around them. I got to feel the cuddles under the comfy cozy and shared elephant kisses, because those can’t be wiped off.
But thankfulness should go beyond what you can see and into what you can feel. I woke up this morning. I took a breath. But if tomorrow I couldn’t do that, I’d be thankful for the love I feel deep within. That can never be taken from me.
My friend’s mom was right. We should be thankful for what we have today, because tomorrow everything can change. But what she didn’t tell me was that while things may change, and they always will, tomorrow I’ve had time to love a little more, to dream a little bigger, and to share more happiness with those around me. Each day is precious, my friends. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow or even today. But we have this moment. Be thankful for it. Look around and celebrate what you do have and stop dwelling on what you don’t. For the best gifts are those no money can buy.,
Who cares about wrinkles; they mean you’ve lived and laughed and may have even shed some tears. Who cares about stretch marks; they mean you’ve experienced a love deeper than anything. Those dark circles may show your restless nights of worry and concern, but you had someone to worry about who was worth more to you than yourself even. Don’t hid behind these things because they aren’t want matter most. Yes, tomorrow you may be different than you are today, but you are here. And for that I am grateful. Because we are all here for just a brief time. Let’s cherish it.