It was never my plan to go nearly an entire month without blogging. First we were simply busy–I’ve been doing holiday card photo shoots every weekend since Halloween…. Then we were busy and dealing with disappointing news…and then sad news and then unexpected bad news–none of which is really mine to share but all of which weighs on me and my family nonetheless.
Everyday life doesn’t stop when bad news strikes–it always seems like it should. In fact though, there are still school snacks to pack, emails to send, bills to pay, playdates to plan and places to go around town. I had a whole blog post written for nearly a month now about all of the interesting places we’ve taken Will lately, but it’s ringing hollow to me at the moment in light of everything else and so I thought I’d come back to blogging with this post instead.
It was the day before Thanksgiving last week and I was not feeling particularly grateful. I was tired–lacking sleep and just plain tired of things not going “our way” for the people I care about the most.
I was laying down with Will, praying for him to stop coughing long enough to fall asleep so I could go edit photos and do more Thanksgiving prep (because it’s always the week of too much bad news and too much to do that your kid comes home from the doctor’s office with 4 prescriptions and 2 inhalers) when my father’s favorite bedtime story from my childhood popped into my head.
You’ve probably heard it somewhere. It’s the story of a man from long ago whose only horse runs off and the neighbor says “oh what bad luck!” and the man says “good luck, bad luck, who knows?” And then the horse comes back with a herd of wild stallions and the neighbor says “oh what good luck!” and the man says “good luck, bad luck, who knows?” Then the man’s son breaks his leg trying to train the horses which appears to be bad luck until the army comes the next day to take him away to war but doesn’t because he is of no use to them with his broken leg, etc, etc and so on.
When we moved to China almost 4 years ago, I found out that this memorable bedtime story is actually based upon an ancient Chinese 4 character idiom. I later had a local Chengdu calligraphy artist reproduce the 4 characters on a scroll that now hangs in my Dad’s office at work. Things have a funny way of coming full circle don’t they?
I am not so zen as to believe that every single thing that happens to us can be spun into a positive light. There are some things that simply, objectively, suck. But remembering my Dad’s favorite story the other night reminded me that there’s another way to look at things–that sometimes we don’t really understand which things that happen to us are good luck or bad luck–good news or bad news–until long after the events have passed. Sometimes lives are saved by getting bad news. Sometimes it’s in not getting what we want that we are able to give someone else what they really need. Sometimes disappointments give us the space to pursue new opportunities.
Already there have been disappointments from earlier in the month that are revealing themselves to be bullets dodged. There have been other disappointments that have already turned out to be such blessings in disguise that it’s hard to remember why they ever seemed like bad luck in the first place.
And I don’t necessarily know when we’ll stop feeling like the sky is falling, but it’s the holiday season and if we can’t hope for a few little miracles right now, when can we?
We have a lot on our minds these days and a lot of days we wish we could be geographically closer to our families than we are right now. I’m on a mission though to capitalize on as much holiday cheer and fun this month as we can both because it’s distracting for everyone and because it’s getting so much fun to do now that Will is just now getting old enough to appreciate things like cookies and sprinkles, miniature little Christmas trees and paper snowflakes. And, of course, because with a baby due in less than 1 month, I know it will be awhile before we’ve got the time or energy again to indulge in all of the fun little projects and playdates we are doing right now.
I joke that we are racing to see how much we can cram in before Will’s younger sibling arrives, but the truth is we are getting so excited for baby #2 to finally get here that it’s hard to imagine a better Christmas present than a healthy, happy delivery of the little one kicking around my midsection right now. Of course, if baby can stay in there long enough for my parents to arrive a few days after Christmas–that would be really, really, really great too.
Thanks for listening, more soon.