This week's Striking Mums over at Kate on thin ice is around the topic of thanksgiving and being thankful. I've started to wonder what can of emotional worms will be opened up each week as the striking mums posts end up becoming a bit like a weekly therapy session for me.
But in a good way. It's like opening up the box of memories, taking a peek in manageable doses and then packing it up again to be opened another time.
Here are this weeks questions...
1. What are you thankful for?
A big thing that I often take for granted is good health. As soon as any of us is poorly, even with coughs and colds, I realise just how unthankful I've been for our health.
I'm also really thankful that since taking the GOPO rosehip supplements my back pain has been a lot more manageable. D has only had one further episode of hip pain since he last saw the doctor and his blood tests and X-rays came back clear of arthritis. Although it is something I'm going to keep a close eye on, so far, we can be thankful that it may not be the arthritis that we feared.
I am also very conscious of J's return to school. He is doing so unbelievably well. I don't use the word unbelievably lightly as his previous experience of school had been a very different story that there were plenty of people who would not have believed that he could ever do well at school. Yet he's proved them all wrong and done us all proud and I am thankful for that everyday.
We had got to the point of thinking that we would never see him happy and fulfilling his potential within a school setting so we are truly thankful to all his teachers at his current school who have believed in him and cared about him. After his appointment as vice house captain earlier in the year, he rushed home recently telling us that he has now been promoted to house captain as the previous house captain had misbehaved and been stripped of the title as a result.
2. Looking back on your life, is there someone you now feel deserved your thanks and you never got round to saying it?
These posts always seem to trigger memories of my mum. Because I only became a mum myself after she passed away I never got to thank her for what an amazing job she did being my mum. She brought me and my brother up as a single mum and given she had a lot of difficulties of her own, I stand amazed when I think of how she managed to do it.
My mum had a couple of elderly friends who were almost like the grandparents I never had. I never knew either of my grandfathers and very very rarely got to see either grandmother - perhaps only a couple of times in my lifetime- and then they both passed away when I was in my teens.
So this wonderful elderly couple, who were neighbours as well as friends, became like grandparents to me. We were always welcome there anytime with no need to make arrangements beforehand. They were so strong both physically and emotionally and lived independently right to the end. They were truly good people.
They were an inspirational couple and I never realised it at the time but they were a source of stability by being there no matter what. They took my mums death really badly and were so so upset for such a long time. Sadly neither of them are around today and it felt like the end of an era when the gentleman passed away a short while after he lost his wife because they had been there for as long as I could remember and I imagined they would somehow always be there. He lived to a grand old age - well over a hundred.
I'm so glad they got to meet J and my memory fails me with exact dates but the gentleman would also have met D. But I wish they could have known just how special they were to me and what an important role they played in my life.
3. Who should thank you and why?
I remember a friend once saying that when you do something for others or you give something to others, you shouldn't expect to be thanked. If you get a thank you, then that's a bonus but do it without the expectation of thanks.
That has turned out to be a good bit of advice. There are times I've felt that I have gone above and beyond the call of duty, whether it was a work situation, a friendship situation, family situation or other situations and whilst I would have been sure to say thank you had the roles been reversed, when I didn't get a thank you then I had to remind myself of that advice.
Having said that, these days it is quick and easy to send an email or text message to say thanks so I think more people should make the effort to. I hope that I do remember to do it too as there are times that thank yous do unintentionally slip through the net.
4. What leads you to count your blessings?
My family. My children. I usually don't settle to sleep very well because I spend ages telling Richard what cute and lovely and funny things that Miss T has been doing that day. When she asks for a cuddle, I try to stop what I am doing and cuddle her as I know all too well that soon the day will come that she won't ask for cuddles anymore.
I love looking at photo albums and I see how the children are growing up, I remember our happy memories, I remember what a blessing they are.
With a 6 year age gap between D and Miss T, I remember being amazed once again at the wonder and miracle that is a new born baby. I remember really believing that she is such a blessing to us.
Growing up I had only ever imagined having a maximum of two children, it was only when J came along and then D that it didn't feel that my family was yet compete. So to have Miss T making our family feel complete feels like a blessing.
Although I had imagined myself with three boys, having her has made me realise that it has been an extra blessing having a little girl because I never imagined having a little girl.
Having 4 sponsored children around there world is also a blessing to us. Their letters are filled with such hope and joy despite their circumstances. Sadly there are too many children in the world who go to bed hungry each night - it makes me count my blessings that we have food, shelter, warmth and everything we need.
5. Apart from saying thank you, how do you express your thanks?
I'm probably not so good at this. I can write a note, or email to say thank you, but even saying thank you verbally is harder for me. I blame it on my dad. He didn't like us to show emotion and didn't like us to say thank you to him.
To thank them, I'm sure a little thank you note would have been enough, but we bought a box of chocolates for each of them. It ended up costing a small fortune at a time when finances were really tight and it probably left them feeling awkward too.
So that is a learning point for me. I need to be able to accept help, kindness etc without feeling obliged to do something in return.
I also think it is important to remember just how meaningful and special our words can be. When I was childminding, I used to have the loveliest thank you notes written to me and those words meant so much more to me than any thank you gift.
So that's this weeks therapy session done. Thanks kate for those questions.