Sure, now that Christopher is finally home from his latest out-of-town trip, marking the end of three solid weeks during which I was basically unable to exercise due to 1.) being the only parent at home with no way to leave the babies to go for a run, 2.) being out of town as a family for the Thanksgiving holiday with no room in my suitcase to pack outdoor running clothes and shoes on top of the mammoth amount of baby/kid gear we were already taking (shut up, that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it), and 3.) being, again, the only parent at home with no way to leave the babies to go for a run-- well, after all that, now that I can actually leave my house alone (or at all!) it is 7 degrees outside with a major snowstorm predicted for the day after tomorrow. Have I mentioned I've been running on sugar and caffeine for three straight days? (Shut up, how else am I going to keep up with these girls by myself, less than two weeks after doing it the last time, when one is sick and the other prefers throwing temper tantrums to napping? YOU try it.) Have I mentioned I'm only making, like, two drops of breast milk per day anymore? Not exactly a big calorie-burner, people. Maybe I shouldn't have eaten all that pumpkin pie. After all, would YOU want to go running in a blizzard?
November has kind of sucked so far.
However. Have I told you about my new dining room table, the one I waited almost 37 years for, that will--at LAST!--actually fit four to six people around it? It has arrived. Sure, it's in boxes in our garage, but sometime--maybe even sometime soon--I will have a grown-up, large, dining room table in my tiny little dining room. I will be able to have more than one other person over for dinner. We will all have room for our dinner plates AND our silverware on the table. No one will have to stand, eat at the coffee table, or pretend not to notice that our table is the size of a Sit-'n'-Spin.
Christopher and I have made a lot of sacrifices, as a family, to ensure parent-only childcare for our babies. I left my career--for now, anyway--to raise the girls, academia doesn't pay very well, and thus we don't have a lot of things many of our peers have. (Of COURSE it goes without saying that we have a lot of things many people DON'T have, as well. I know this.) Our house is relatively small, and attached. We don't travel or buy new clothes on a regular basis. Sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly devoid of gratitude for this life I should be so grateful for, it seems like everything we own is too old, too small, too outdated, too spare. And it's hard to justify buying new things when you're not putting anything, each month, into that pathetic savings account.
But then I think about this new dining room table, and how sure, it's a splurge, even on sale from a mid-range mass marketer. And how yes, of course we could be putting that money into college accounts for the girls. And even how to some people it's nothing fancy or all that special. But to me, it's a symbol of family warmth and love--to be able to gather everyone around the table!--and something I've wanted for a very, very long time. It's worth the price. It makes me feel grateful--not for yet another material object to compare with everyone else's (bigger? nicer? more expensive? prettier?)--but for what it represents to me, in my own mind: family, children growing up around it, dinners together, craft projects and cookie-baking and homework. Thanksgiving dinners. Weekend breakfasts. The heart of a family.
My new dining room table--even in boxes in the garage--makes November better. Want to come over for dinner?