Feeling Thankful for Family—by Jamie Levine
As Thanksgiving draws near, people everywhere—including the kids in Jayda’s nursery school class—are contemplating all the things for which they’re thankful. The other day, Jayda brought home an adorable turkey napkin holder she’d made in school—adorned with three feathers covered with comments about what she was thankful for. The first feather said, “My mommy, because we go to the ice cream store and I get vanilla ice cream with sprinkles.” The second one stated, “My grandma, because she gives me a tissue for my nose.” And the third one said, “My poppy, because he kisses me. He’s a good boy, my poppy—he helps my grandma put her coat on.” Jayda’s words made me smile, but most of all they made me more thankful than ever for my family. Jayda doesn’t have a father—but she doesn’t seem to be suffering because of it; instead, she embraces the family she does have—and she’s grateful for them. Who can blame her? They fill her life with an extraordinary amount of love.
When I first decided to have Jayda, I knew my parents would be an important part of my daughter’s life—but I never realized just how integral they would be. I moved back into my parents’ home late in my pregnancy with the intention of moving back out when my daughter turned one; she’s three-and-a-half now. I never expected to lose my job, and I certainly never planned to go back to graduate school to embark on a new career, but both of those things happened, and my parents have continued to keep their home open to me and Jayda throughout it all. While we do have our conflicts now and then, their emotional support has been incredible, and, most importantly, they’ve helped me create a family for Jayda that makes her feel safe and secure.
When Jayda and I talk about families, I always stress to her that every family is different—and she automatically pipes in that she “has a mommy and a poppy and a grandma,” and then lists several other family members whom she adores. I know she’s still very young, but so far, she doesn’t seem to mourn the fact that there is no father in our family; she simply celebrates the family she has. She’s a really happy child, and I have my parents to thank for much of that.
I never planned to be a single mom, and it’s not always easy, but I do think I’m creating a good life for my child; I’ve focused on making her feel secure and loved—and have surrounded her with positive role models. These days, when so many people I know are going through nasty divorces and admitting to me that they married their spouses for the wrong reasons—and that they “settled”—I’m thankful that I never had to do just that. And I’m grateful to my parents, who have been married for over 50 years, for showing me what a good marriage looks like—and for allowing me to hold out for one that’s right. When my daughter does see me in a relationship—as I hope she will in the future—I’m confident it will be a happy, fulfilling one.
This Thanksgiving, life is pretty stressful for me; money’s tight, my classes are demanding, and I’m juggling work, school, motherhood, and a new relationship, but when all is said and done, I have a lot to be thankful for. So does my daughter—and I’m so thankful she’s thankful for the wonderful family she has.