For my first job out of college, I worked as a case manager/counselor at House of Ruth‘s domestic violence transitional housing program. I ran several therapeutic groups for women who had survived almost indescribable horrors at the hands of their loved ones. One of the activities we did in the Positive Power Self Esteem Group was to list things for which we were grateful. Yes, it’s a bit ridiculous: a twenty-two year old kid who’d just graduated from Dartmouth asking a group of women who’d been stabbed, raped, and beaten, who were homeless, jobless, heartbroken, and bright but undereducated, to list the things for which they were grateful. But they all had many things, powerful things, they could list: their lives, their children, people who wanted to help them, a favorite book, a moment to themselves. And listing these things really did make them (and me, for I did the exercise too) feel better. Perhaps it’s a bit too Oprah (but look how well it’s worked for Oprah and the millions who love her!), but it gives perspective, and perspective is important for moving forward.

Family Fun Day! (Description in the very next paragraph!). Please admire the adorable baby, and ignore the giant bag under my eye. Your doing so will give me one more thing for which to be grateful.

I’m so incredibly grateful, humbled, and moved by the support the readers of this blog have shown me: family, family friends, friends from childhood, from high school, from college and grad school, from grown-up life, Das Baby’s nurses and fellow NICU parents (both also known as our friends from CHONY). People to whom I haven’t spoken in fifteen years. You read and you wrote. You wrote beautiful and caring and personal and elaborate or simple things. People always talk about how Facebook actually weakens friendships by fostering a false sense of connection based on a quick click. They say internet gives us a sense of being drawn together while actually pushing us apart. But I can’t agree. There’s something magical about being able to say into the ether: “I need some love,” and then getting it in droves. So thank you.

I’m also grateful that in spite of (or in part because of) the bad news about Das Baby’s growth problems and surgery and tube, Herr Husband and I put together one hell of a family fun day on Saturday. We took Das Baby into Boston, to the New England Aquarium.

Das Baby, enraptured by the big tank. You'll have to take my word for it that that's what he is looking at.

He has a lot of fish-themed toys (swing, Exersaucer, bath squirters), and really enjoys them, so we decided to introduce him to the real thing. They let us skip the (very long) line because of his oxygen, and Das Baby was riveted by the penguins, the fish, and the swarms of people (in this way, being in public is always sort of like a human aquarium for him!). Then we went for a walk around Faneuil Hall, where he did some more people watching and then took a nap. We came back home, played, laughed a lot, and then he danced with his dad until he fell asleep.

Family fun on our newly-installed porch swing (thanks, Uncle D!). Awesome.

Doesn’t make the crap go away, but proves that the three of us can be happy no matter what.


5 Comments on “Gratitude”

  1. Mom says:

    You are the BEST! Love you all!

  2. Kate says:

    Beautiful family!

  3. Jamila says:

    Amazing family fun day you had for my trooper Theo! You guy must remember that corny statement “united we stand divided we fall” well u guys represent the true meaning of unity sending my heart your way 🙂

  4. Kristen Coogan says:

    Leda + John,

    Hello, hello! I came across Hipster Hausfrau via facebook and read about what you’ve been up to. My. This is quite a story. My heart goes out to all three of you; I wish you continued strength, resolve, perspective and all the other qualities you’ve impressively demonstrated throughout this experience. To say you are both superstars is an understatement, but I am sort of feeling speechless right now, so that’s all I got.

    Speaking of, Leda: your writing is addictive. Your posts sparkle. And, I can’t wait to read more.

    Love + big, BIG hugs –

    Tom + Kristen

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