Grits and Purls

Spinning yarns about the grit of life

Our family is not unaffected by the deep and wide economic woes of these days. There is no safe haven in this recession; everyone is affected, every industry, every walk of life. And it’s hard not to worry when you see your careful saving and retirement planning struggle in futility against the crash and shatter of a global economy that was based on money that never existed.

Newspapers carry stories of bankruptcies and layoffs, even among their own. As the stress builds, so do the stories of murders and suicides and other crimes. And it’s hard not to worry when I look into the chocolate eyes of my trusting two-year-old. What kind of world will she inherit?

Against the backdrop of global and local turmoil, I did my chores this weekend. I turned off the TV and the radio and opened the window. I worked in sync with the gentle rhythm of the rain pattering on the newly greened grass. A robin chirped outside on the porch railing. Clothes tumbled in the dryer down the hallway, their thuds occasionally punctuated by the clang of a metal snap or loose coin against the dryer wall, and the monitor revealed the softly playing lullabies in my daughter’s room upstairs, where she napped.

The air was damp, but comfortably warm, and the ends of my uncombed hair curled around my neck in the humidity. The iron occasionally sighed, a puff of steam here and there as I finished the laundry. The world was quiet for a few minutes except for those sounds of comfort. I folded clothes, hung pressed shirts and was thankful for a brief peace.

I found my self humming bits of the song Count Your Blessings. I first heard this song on a Diana Krall Christmas CD in 2006, though it was written by Irving Berlin for the 1954 movie White Christmas.

In December 2006 I was on maternity leave, and at Christmas my daughter was only one month old. I played that song many times, rocking her in my lap or nursing her as I listened. My mother was sick, and more than once called me in tears because she was feeling so badly and was afraid she would never get to see her granddaughter.

I, the accomplished professional woman, so comfortable in the seminar, classroom or laboratory, was struggling to figure out what to do with this wriggling baby in my arms and the ailing parent 1,000 miles away.

If you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings

Those lyrics brought me much comfort during those times—not because they reminded me that things could be worse, but because they showed me how incredibly blessed my life is.

I am blessed to have fallen in love with a wonderful man who loves, cherishes and respects me.

I am blessed to have that miracle baby who cries at 3:00 am, and who says spontaneously “Thank you momma for helping me,” as we negotiate the stairs together.

I am blessed to be able to comfort my child.

I am blessed to have sat at many dinners with family and laughed.

I am blessed to have parents whom I love and who love me deeply.

I am blessed to have been a teacher.

I am blessed to have eaten artichokes.

We are all, especially my daughter, blessed by the presence of Floppy Dog, that now ragged, stained and tattered stuffed doggie who goes everywhere with us.

I am blessed to live in a place where there are robins to chirp at my window and grass to green outside.

I am blessed to have lived on the prairie, the plain and the woodland.

I am blessed by the smiles of friends and the kindness of coworkers.

Life, love, kindness, parents, family, nature—these are the blessings that I wrap around me as I fall asleep. These are the blessings that my daughter will inherit for her world.

© 2009 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.

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