Each year, a few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, my pastor asks different members of the congregation to write down things for which they are thankful. He also asks the preschoolers who attend preschool at our church. These emails and notes come together to form his sermon the week of Thanksgiving when he shares them with our congregation. It is one of the best sermons of the year, in my opinion. Who can resist hearing a three year old's earnest gratitude for play-dough or rainbow sprinkled donuts or her new baby brother?
Recently, I was cleaning out some files and I found the piece I wrote when I was asked by a church staff member to contribute to the sermon years ago. The year was 2007 and in 2007, I did not know what a blog was. I wrote whenever I had a moment to myself, which around that time was not often as my boys were three, six and eight years old. I wrote to keep some semblance of memories in a safe place. I wrote to be sure I didn't lose the memories or lose my mind, for that matter. I tucked my writings away in journals or in the back of old spiral notebooks or in untitled folders on my computer.
I remember walking into church a few weeks after the sermon was given that included my gratitude piece. An older woman in the church came up to me, saw my nametag and said, "You. You're the one with all the "boyness" in your home? You, dear, you are a writer."
I am grateful for that woman at church that day and I am grateful for this space I found where I can write each week. It occurs to me that what she said and the content of what I wrote those seven years ago informed the kind of writing I might bring to this place. In all my dreams about writing, I realized that for me, I didn't have to come up with a grand fictional story. God was giving me a grand story among legos and plastic baseballs. In the midst of the tedium and tantrums of a day with three little boys, He sent me an alley full of mamas lined up on the street among tricycles and scooters sharing our laughter and frustration, triumphs and fears about our children. I am grateful that I found that sharing even the most mundane aspects of mothering can bring women comfort and peace and a connection that makes the daunting task of raising children seem, perhaps, not so scary. I am grateful for how this space clears my mind and helps me sort out this life He has gifted me. I am grateful that I can click save and forever keep that piece of my heart to myself or can click publish and hope that piece of my heart might mean something to someone else. I am grateful to those of you who read my words. And as I read the words below that I wrote in 2007, I realize that I am still immensely grateful for all the boyness in my home.
What I am Thankful For - Jennifer Skinner - November 2007
I am a girl. A girly-girl. I like girl things. I like clean, sweet-smelling things. I like manicures and facials. I like beauty products and bubble baths. I like shopping and shoes. I REALLY like shoes. And what am I thankful for?
I am thankful for mud-caked cleats and sweaty football jerseys. I'm thankful for baseball pants that I know were white when I bought them and now would take some sort of yet to be invented maximum supreme strength oxi-clean to get them back to what they used to be. I'm thankful for that wet, dirty dog smell that comes whizzing by me when my littlest one comes in from the sandbox. I'm thankful for wrestling matches and 3 point contests. I'm thankful that I've learned about base running and the importance of "getting low" when one human being is tackling another human being. I'm thankful for ESPN when I'd rather watch Entertainment Tonight.
I don't have tea parties and I don't play house with dolls and I don't mind. Because I am extraordinarily grateful for three dirty, scruffy, smelly, gorgeous little boys and for one slightly bigger boy who on occasion, will whisper to them to tell Mommy she looks pretty when he knows that I am overwhelmed by the "boyness" that surges through our home.
Happy Thanksgiving, friends. Blessings and grace from my people to your people.