Ask not whether the glass is half-full or half-empty; ask how many glasses you have…

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy listening to Rosemary Clooney and Bing Crosby singing Irving Berlin’s Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep.)  There’s a reason for that: I was raised by women who thought that regardless of how big your problems are and how small your blessings may be, the blessings will always trump the problems…

Yesterday morning, I admit once more, I was far from stellar in my execution of motherly patience.  I spent a great deal of the day trying to talk myself into understanding that this is, in spite of how stupid it makes me feel, normal.  I am not a poster child for motherhood, just like my children are not poster children for childhood.  To reassure myself, I did everything I could to prove that I am capable, even when I’m not.  (Did that make sense?  I don’t know if it did to you, but it did to me…)

Other people have comfort food that they turn to when they are feeling a little wobbly on their emotional legs.  I will dive into a pint of ice cream, work my way through a bag of M&Ms, crunch away at crisp toast with real butter, sip a seemingly endless cup of tea…but what REALLY works for me is what others might find a little silly: comfort chores.  After I posted my entry for yesterday, I sat on the bed for ten minutes and pondered how to make a day that started out pretty crappy into a better one.  Then the phone rang, we had a minor crisis, and I’ll explain in a moment how that works into the glasses that might be half-something.

To comfort and soothe myself, I roasted vegetables.  The roasted tomatoes, peppers, red onions, garlic turned into soup, and then…

A loaf of Italian herb bread.  Which was more of a chore than I would have wanted, but that’s part of the story…

The phone call was an automated one: this is to inform you that your son, J’s name inserted here, was marked absent from school.  If you have any questions, call blabetty, blab, blab…

I called.  I called and was rather anxious because, well, would J NOT be at school?  Of course, there was the field trip, but WHY WOULD HE BE MARKED ABSENT???  The secretary was not very helpful or, sadly, understanding.  Yes, he was marked absent.  Could he have been late???  How can he be late, I asked, if he rides the bus to school, and he’s a Special Education student?  Crickets on the other side of the line.  You don’t understand, I told her, some autistic kids are runners, and if he’s been marked absent I need to know what teacher and what time he didn’t show up for!  Please hold.  And I held. “Are you aware he is on a field trip?”  Yes, I am…are his teachers aware he is on a field trip?  Crickets.  I patiently -at least, I hope I sounded patient and not just terribly shaken up, which is what I felt like- explained that J has a mental age that fluctuates between 2 and 8 years old, that he is non-verbal, and that if he has somehow found his way out of the building, he will get lost as he doesn’t know how to navigate around town.  Crickets.  Talk to his teacher.  And I did, hours later, and I explained that the Attendance Office needs to call parents of Special Ed kids PERSONALLY because we can probably be more helpful that way than when we speak to a secretary who doesn’t know our kid and doesn’t understand what we mean when we sound like we’re about to throw up as we’re talking to them.

So…to calm myself after this brief crisis (it was the Ceramics teacher that marked him absent,) I roasted vegetables (and fruit, if you’re a purist about the tomatoes.)  Because it smelled so lovely and it looked so delicious, I decided to make bread, and so out came my trusty bread machine that I love, and that makes my life ever-so-slightly easier.  In went the ingredients, and then I cleaned the dining room, cleared up the mess I’d made while cooking (because the task meant to be relaxing and the cleaning helped me tidy up my internal mess, too.)

Dada called to let me know that the biopsy from his colonoscopy indicated his polyps were benign.  And there was much rejoicing.  A layer of worry and weight fell of as the house filled with the lovely fragrance of roasted vegetable soup and Italian herb bread.  I dusted the bookshelves in the basement, added dirt to the plants that we rescued from the neighbors across the way (who left in the wee hours of the morning and told my husband they wouldn’t be taking their succulents so we were free to take them.)  I gathered all the trash so it could be taken to the dumpster near the entrance of the neighborhood…

By the time I was done, it was time to wait for J’s bus.  Off we went, TGG and I, to check the mailbox and collect J.

I took out J’s comm book and read the wonderful news (later confirmed verbally by his teacher over the phone) that J had gone on his field trip WITHOUT HIS HATS AND WITHOUT SLINKY!  Yes…J went on a field trip without either one of his current emotional crutches.  And he had a WONDERFUL time!  He voluntarily left the hats on the table and, when his teacher asked if he would please leave Slinky behind because they would be going on rides and it could be dangerous, J simply kept walking to the door without a single wistful glance at his things.

The teacher, of course, took the things with her (unbeknownst to J) in case some sort of crisis broke out.  Once the trip was done (and the only glitch was J’s horror-stricken look when he climbed into, and then promptly out of, the whirl-a-gig,) the hats were offered to J, and he took them in his hands and held them there until they got to school.

This piece of news was so good, so comforting, so encouraging, that the bread machine bursting into flames (only a mild exaggeration there) and me barely rescuing my loaf of bread is but a minor glitch in the filling of glasses.  The polyps were benign, and a glass filled.  J made a major breakthrough, and another glass filled.  The bread machine waited until we were back to self-immolate…and we still had lovely, lovely soup and delicious, crusty bread for dinner…

Isn’t that a good way to count blessings…and sheep…and glasses?

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