Yay, it’s May! The best month ever, because it’s my birthday month. Okay, maybe it’s in a three-way tie with October (sweater weather) and December (Christmas). But definitely still in the top quarter of all months.
Have I also mentioned that I love my birthday? Just in case you haven’t gotten the message, I really love my birthday. In a bit of foreshadowing, bet you can’t guess what I’ll count among my three good things next month.
But I’ve still got 16 days to go until #38, so for now, here’s a look at what I’ve loved, learned, and been grateful for in the last month.
Three things I’ve loved:
- The sisterhood of the traveling prom dress. Catherine Malatesta died last summer, less than a year after being diagnosed with cancer and only a couple of months after attending her junior prom. Four of her friends are wearing the blue dress that Catherine wore last spring to their own proms this year. I’m not crying, you’re crying.
- This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. The first of Ann Patchett’s writing that I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. Patchett’s honesty and wit and the sheer beauty of her words in this collection of essays actually managed to get me out of my chair at lunch to sit outside and read, and for that, I thank her.
- Listen to Your Mother. Last year, I really needed the day out. This year, I just wanted to continue a new tradition of listening to a set of stories that honor motherhood’s highs and lows (and all the muddling through the middle). I laughed, I cried, I ugly cried, I hugged, I stood and cheered for another impressive DC cast, I wore a dress and didn’t carry a diaper bag. A day of wins all around.
Three things I’ve learned:
- The power of checking in. I admired Lisa Bonchek Adams‘ candor as she lived with metastatic breast cancer. My admiration grew when I learned about her generosity as a friend. She was a master of the check in, via phone, e-mail, and text. It’s not a new lesson to me, but one I need to be reminded of. Amid the daily grind, it gets too easy for me to retreat, not to pick up the phone, not to type out a quick message (in part because I feel guilty for having too much to catch up on). I need to — I can — do better.
- How The Americans gets made. A detailed behind-the-scenes look at the best show on TV. You are watching, right? Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are so much more than Felicity and Scotty in this show.
- Three years of diapers for $40. No, really. The GroVia Gives cloth diaper program is lending three years worth of cloth diapers to qualifying low-income families for $40. Cloth diapering can be a lot of work but for families who struggle to keep their babies in clean, dry diapers, this could be a game changer.
Three things I’ve been grateful for:
- An explanation of how describing cancer as a battle isn’t productive. I honestly never gave the war-battle-fight-loss analogies in cancer a thought before I started reading Mary Elizabeth Williams’ pieces. I also never thought of myself as a “winner” for making it through cancer treatment successfully. But passages like this one have opened my eyes to the importance of our language around cancer.
I don’t know anyone who has experienced cancer who didn’t want very much to get better, who didn’t hope and who didn’t try. To make it to other side of illness doesn’t automatically make a person an achiever, any more than it makes those who’ve died failures.
- Life is hard, but they are brave. Momastery’s Glennon Melton Doyle was moved a few months ago to ask her readers the names of their children who were sick so that the group could think of them. The list grew and grew — and then it included parents who wanted to recognize their babies who had died from those illnesses, or had been lost to miscarriage or stillbirth. And Glennon wrote all of their names down, too, and she made these printable posters with all of those names. Our three didn’t have names, but Glennon included hearts for each of them, and for that, I’m so thankful.
- Girls Weekend! Every spring, my mom and aunts and sister and cousins all gather for a weekend to talk, to eat, to drink, to tell stories, to play games, to execute surprises (and more). This year was my triumphant return: in 2012 and 2014, I was pregnant; in 2013, I was tethered to a breast pump for most of the weekend (including in a bar parking lot); and I missed it last year. I was so glad to get back — and to get time all to myself in the security line, in the line for coffee at the airport, in my tiny airplane seat, at Logan Airport while waiting for my sister to pick me up. Luxury redefined and relationships recharged.
What have you loved, learned, and felt grateful for lately?