I have a confession. I can be kind of a complainer.
You probably wouldn’t know it from reading this blog because:
(1) I’m not really focusing on the trivial things about my life. I’m not going to put my to-do list on here, though I would really like for everyone to help me tackle it collectively!
(2) Most of my complaints come when I’m talking. When I sit down to write, I’m able to hone in on the positive.
(3) I am constantly striving to be optimistic. It’s a personal goal of mine. So I’m trying to put the good energy out there!
But, really, I can be kind of a complainer. It’s a quality that I very much dislike about myself and one that I’m trying to change.
So I am proud of a huge stride I made in that direction yesterday!
Yesterday was my 35th birthday. I’m a big, big birthday person. I’ve always enjoyed my birthdays. That has changed slightly as I’ve gotten older and found a few grey hairs but, for the most part, bring on the presents and the cake!
But yesterday didn’t feel much like a birthday — at first. Earlier in the week, Emmy and I traveled to Kentucky to meet with a wonderful team of Williams syndrome researchers, and yesterday was our flight home. Due to bad weather, we ended up getting stranded for 6 hours in our connecting airport, Charlotte (coincidentally, also the name of my older daughter!). This wasn’t just any 6 hours, but the 6 hours around dinner and sleep time. Yikes.
It had been a long trip, and I was exhausted. Not Emmy though! She wanted to run. The airport was packed with people waiting for delayed flights, and Emmy got her exercise running in and out of people and their luggage (with me trailing behind calling “Emmy! Emmy!”). This kid was having so much fun. If someone dared look her way, she would flash a huge smile, turn on her heel, and keep running. In the middle of the running, she would check back in with me for her supply of crackers to keep her going.
It occurred to me that chasing my kid through a busy airport for hours was not how I imagined spending my 35th birthday. It also occurred to me that this is the same kid that had heart surgery a couple months ago, and now her energy was limitless. When people remarked on how cute she was, I just wanted to grab them and say, “Let me tell you what she’s been through!”
When I managed to corral Emmy for 2 seconds, a fellow passenger came up to me and said, “They might cancel our flight altogether. They’re going to make the call at 9:00 pm.”
I stared at her blankly. I had already been at the airport for 6 hours, and this flight might still get canceled? I imagined finding a hotel room and then a taxi, all without our checked luggage and spare diapers. I imagined Emmy jumping on the hotel bed at midnight. I looked over at the flight board. Every flight going to our destination said “Cancelled” next to it. Except ours. Ours still said “Delayed.” There was literally a column of red “Cancelled”s and then our beautiful flight — a shining beacon of hope — that was still holding strong.
And 15 minutes later, they made the call that we were going to take off! I nearly hugged the person next to me. I was suddenly filled with so much gratitude.
We took off around 10:00 pm. Emmy curled up on my sweatshirt, and slept the whole flight. She’s actually quite good on planes. Whenever we board, people always look at me like, “You seriously brought a child on this flight?!” And then when we land, they give me big smiles and say, “She was so GOOD! So QUIET!” She knows how to make friends…
So Emmy slept, and I sat there thinking about my 35th birthday, which was nearly over. I could complain about everything under the sun. For sure, there was A LOT to complain about. I could go on for days.
Or I could switch my mindset to gratitude.
I could start with “thank you”s.
My daughter, who had heart surgery a few months ago, was just running around. Thank you. Furthermore, our flight was the only flight that wasn’t cancelled. Thank you. We were going home! I couldn’t wait to see my older daughter, Charlotte, and I also couldn’t wait to see my husband. Thank you.
I decided that I didn’t want to ruin my birthday with complaints. I wanted to enjoy it. So, while Emmy slept, and as I felt the plane hum under my feet, I kept running a list in my head of things to be thankful for.
I told myself: There are many reasons to want and many reasons to be unhappy. We can find them almost anywhere. Today, I choose to be thankful for what I have.
It was an important lesson for year 35.
And when I saw my sweet husband at the airport, with a big bunch of yellow roses, I was so thankful that he knows that birthdays are special to me too.
For all that I could possibly complain about, today is different. Today I choose to be thankful.