Today I feel contented. Perfectly at one with everything around me- my husband, my children, my job and my home. I don't often feel like this so I'm going to marinate in it for awhile.
I was driving home from work tonight, an hour drive, when I was all of a sudden blindsided with giggly happiness. Out of nowhere, for no reason. In fact, this week has been a little emotionally tough. I have a cat that I have had since before I even knew my husband existed and he's on his way out. His liver is failing, he stopped eating a month ago, to be honest with you I'm not sure how he's still here. That has been tough on everyone, but it's not the only thing going on around here. On Thursday my son has an appointment with a specialist and a surgeon. We're not going into details, but he's looking at surgery this summer which will leave him unable to walk for 4-6 weeks and might leave him with the need for prescription drugs for the rest of his life. This has been the hardest thing for me to deal with. This is my very first kid/surgery experience and I am NOT handling it like a champ. I'm just completely losing it. I can't focus, I can't function, I just want to sit and cry, not that I've done that at all, I still have to parent and therefore there is little to no time for pity parties. Suffice it to say that this week has sucked and I was floored by the sudden giggling.
I have come to realize in the last few hours how blessed I am, and how thankful I should be. At first glance you might not think I have much to be really thankful for. We live in the "projects", I work one day a week and make no money, my kids are falling apart, my pets are falling apart, but here's the truth of the matter.
I am happy to be in the projects because this is where I'm most needed. This is where I do the most good. I was meant to be here right now. It is right that I am here. It is good that the teenagers take over my porch to the point that even I can't be on it. I'm the only parental influence a lot of them have, not due to drug addicted parents or anything, but their parents are working two jobs, or even more and aren't home a lot, and I know that the kids appreciate the relationship that we've forged in the last two years, even if they sometimes complain about it. I often have knocks on my door throughout the day from them, asking for advice, asking if I'd just sit and listen to them and I am all too happy to do so. Through interaction with my neighbors I have learned that it isn't just worthless welfare moms out here as I had been raised to think, it's families that are struggling and surviving, making the most of what little they have, making happiness and laughter out of nothing but togetherness. Our families are lucky. Lucky to be together, lucky to have people by our side even if things aren't easy and we don't have it all. I was raised in the suburbs in a fairly well off family and all we got from our neighbors was judgement. If our cars weren't upgraded every few years, people talked. If our house wasn't an acceptable color, people talked. I have never once run into that in the projects. In fact, the only thing I've run into here is people wanting to help, to chat, to be the neighbors you see on old time tv shows. More than once a neighbor has said,"You know, I'm an out of work mechanic so if you ever want me to work on your car, you buy the parts and I'll do it." Or, "I'm an unemployed lawn guy, want me to help you with your garden?" No, they aren't asking for anything in return. The greatest thing about the recession has been the flipping of the projects from horribly scary ghetto to nice ex-middle class families who are just having some trouble right now. I'm not saying we don't have the scary people, but the nice ones band together and chase them out pretty quickly. I'm proud to live here with these people and tell their story when everyone else is trying to forget them. It's not the story of an unlucky few, it's the story of all of us and no one should be allowed to sweep the dark parts under the rug, even if it's not the perfect fairy tale we wanted. No true stories ever are.
I am also lucky to have my job, not because I'm working, although that's certainly true, but because of who I interact with there and what I learn. I do TNR, which stands for Trap Neuter Return. It's a program that works with stray and feral cats and their human neighbors. The neighbors will trap the cat, bring it to us, we fix it and make it healthy, and return it to them to put back out. Why do we return it? There are a few reasons, one of which is that cats are territorial- we've all seen this on the Discovery Channel in lions and other big cats. If you take a cat out of it's territory a new cat will take over. The new cat will not be fixed and will then be having litter after litter, making more "nuisance" cats. I'm not sure about every city, but in my city most feral cats are living downtown in the poorest areas, therefore that's who I deal with most often. It is amazing to me how people who have nothing will scrounge up a way to get a cat to us, call and check on that cat, and give that cat a home after it's fixed and healed. They often choose to become volunteers and work with us. I have often heard it said that those with the least give the most, now I know without a doubt that it is true. I'm aware that this is the reason that the rich get richer and the poor stay poor, but in the end I'd rather be poor and generous with great neighbors than be rich and greedy with judgement at every turn.
Another thing that makes me so darn lucky is my husband. He is the most to say the least. He works hard for us, sometimes for 14 hours a day or more, and comes home every night without fail. He doesn't spend his days off golfing or hanging out with friends, he spends them with his kids. He is the best daddy that a kid could ask for. He loves playing with toys, getting dirty and wrestling, he lets them do his hair in princess barrettes and ponytails, paint his nails, and he has never once shied away from changing a diaper, potty training, or cleaning up puke. As a husband he is devoted like no other, dotes on me, cooks and cleans, and is always kind, patient, and understanding. When I first told him I wanted to start a blog he was more than supportive, he even said, yes this is a direct quote from a middle-of-the-day-for-no-reason text, "I'd read it every day, and I wouldn't care what you wrote about. I'm your biggest fan and you know I think everything you do is amazing." Not that we don't fight and argue or do things that leave the other in complete and utter shock, but at the end of the day I know that he'll always be there and he'll always think that I'm the greatest thing that has ever graced this planet. How lucky can a girl get?
When I look at it all that way, there isn't much about my life that isn't incredible and I'm glad that today I was smacked in the face with that revelation. Sometimes we all just need a little reminder. Even when things aren't perfect, they're perfectly how they should be.