Day 7 of 30 Days of Gratitude: I am grateful for my in-laws The DavisMoranoLawtonJacobsons!

Today happens to be our fourth wedding anniversary, and in the spirit of this day I wanted to dedicate my thanks to my in-laws, the DavisMoranoLawtonJacobson crew.  When we first became members of the family Liz and I felt a tad overwhelmed. For years it had just been her and me in our apartment with our cats. My family consisted of my mom and step-dad, my dad, two sisters and a brother, and my sets of grandparents. My siblings have moved to various parts of the country and all four of my grandparents are gone. When I met Chris my grandfather had just passed away and my grandmother was a shadow of who she used to be. As one part of the family became smaller, another grew by 20.

At Liz’s bat mitzvah there was a time when the Rabbi asked for her family members to stand up. When I turned around to look I saw both my mother and father in-law standing. I had known that they have an incredible family bond but on that day, I really felt like we were part of it. Our wedding sealed the deal and we were blessed with nineteen additional family members.

Our first christmas with everyone was overwhelming. In the past, when we celebrated christmas with my ex, it was never a joyful occasion. Rather than create pleasant memories, he dwelled in the bad ones from his childhood and decided to re-enact them. Then we didn’t celebrate because once again it was just the two of us and Hanukkah took center stage. After we met Chris and became part of the Davis clan, we were back celebrating again only this time it was tons of cheer, tons of food, tons of presents and tons of people. New people who we were just getting to know. No one held it against us that we felt a tad out of place, and still made us part of the celebration as if we had been part of it this whole time.

We went to Disney for the first time together that August. Being part of a smaller group I wasn’t used to the variables of other peoples’ plans and it was an adjustment. Looking back, I see it was one of the best vacations I ever had and they made it that way. It had been years since I went on a vacation like that with family members, and it reminded me of when I was little with my own family. It was just incredible, and this year’s trip was no exception!

When we found out that we were expecting another baby they shared in our excitement. When we discovered she would be born with one of the most severe congenital heart defects possible, they shared in our sorrow. But true to form, they did everything to try to make us feel better. When we walked to raise money for the Children’s Heart Foundation, they walked with us and when we were inpatient her first few weeks of life, they came to visit us.

We share birthdays, holidays and anniversaries, most recently my mother and father-in-law’s. They created a beautiful video of their marriage from beginning to now, and happily included us. Liz and I couldn’t have asked for a better cheering section, and when we moved no one hesitated to help us.

Not everyone is as fortunate as we are, to have a family that cares so much about one another. I wanted to share this gratitude on the anniversary of when we made it official and my last name became Davis.

Family, Work (or lack thereof)

Day 6 of 30 Days of Gratitude: I am grateful that I can enjoy being with my girls at home

I know I am behind with my days of gratitude. I underestimate how difficult it can be to write when you are watching children. Which brings me to yesterday’s gratitude: being home with the kids. Yes, you read that correctly, I am grateful that I can be home with the girls right now.

I grew up with a mom who worked. When I first became pregnant with Liz, I remember using her as my example of how I was going to be: a working mom who balanced career fulfillment with parenthood. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to work. First of all, I had to – we couldn’t have survived if I didn’t and secondly, I enjoyed my work at the time. Being at work made me enjoy our weekends together more and I looked forward to them.

I have always been employed with very few spells of being jobless in my 15+ year career in graphic design. When I was laid off in March, I was devastated and immediately started looking for work. People would say to me “Think of it this way, you get to spend a lot more time with the kids.” You would think that would have been enough to turn my spirits around but the first few weeks were hard. I felt like I wasn’t complete not having an occupation. It wasn’t until a few weeks into unemployment that I realized that I already had a full time job.

Fortunately, I had a good friend who recommended me to her husband at a small financial firm so I began to work at home. It was enough to keep me busy and be able to care for the girls when someone needed a snack or a snuggle. When I did get a contract to be onsite somewhere, I missed being with them. I had become accustomed to being able to take them to the playground or to activities we signed them up for. It became more difficult to commute into the city and balance caring for them. Even Liz seemed to enjoy my presence when she got home from school.

Today I look at this time very differently. I feel so fortunate I can spend time with my girls while they are still little. I am grateful I can spend time with Liz before she runs off to college (fingers crossed). I can participate and help with band activities and I have the energy to teach Sunday School on Sundays. I also have time to volunteer for things that give me the fulfillment I had been missing. Being home these past 7+ months has been a blessing, and it is right where I am supposed to be.