Sunday Morning ~ Thanksgiving Thoughts

Sunday Morning ~ Thanksgiving Thoughts

Mbawala sikumwa madzi galu ali kumbuyo. ~ An antelope does not drink water when the dog is behind her. 

~ Chewa proverb 

November 26, 2023

Hi Everyone,

I’ll be leaving my home again soon and a bit of anxiety has set in. I’m excited about going, thrilled actually, but there are logistics to renting my house, packing my life, and saying goodbye; it sparks a little angst. I vacillate between giddy excitement and worry about what I am leaving behind. I miss my mom. I thought about her a lot this weekend. What would have been her 103rd birthday was on Thanksgiving Day and I tried to recall if I told her how much I appreciated all she’d done for me. Did I assume she knew I was thankful? I can’t remember. The years blur together and I may have expected more than she wanted to give. Having my kids here this weekend sparked some reflection and I felt desperate to tell her I am grateful. I fully accept where life has brought me but find myself indulging in a little sadness for what could have been. I feel so much responsibility; these remnants of childhood caretaking creeping in. If I could only be good enough, help out enough, attend to everyone, take on their feelings and angst, absorb their anger, sorrows, and shame, then I could make everything all right. It doesn’t work and never has.

I know many women who have put their goals and aspirations aside because of family obligations. This has always seemed tragic to me. When I went to Congo I left my elderly mother who worried she might die while I was gone. She wasn’t ill and I have other siblings who could step up for the year so knew she’d be cared for. I worried way more about my kids since their father had stopped parenting altogether. Now that they are middle aged you’d think I could let that go, but no. Maternal anxiety seems to be a life sentence. 

I felt oddly lonely this holiday. Four of the five kids were home and I went to bed listening to their laughter and chatter on Wednesday evening. It brought back memories of listening to them as teenagers. We were an intact family then and my husband and I would go to bed and listen to them talking downstairs. We’d cuddle up in happiness that our kids were such good friends and we’d created the family we’d dreamed of. We’d drift off to sleep with their laughter as a lullaby. This week I listened and worried: Are they arguing? No, they are laughing. They must be joking around. Why did it get quiet all of a sudden? How much are they drinking? Is this going to turn south? And thus managed to keep myself awake for hours worrying, knowing I’d be exhausted when I needed to get up and create the perfect day for my perfect imaginary holiday. I do this to myself. It’s so stupid.

When everyone left and I got some sleep I put this in a broader perspective. My kids don’t agree on everything and there was plenty of energetic arguing. They were raised with the same parents, the same religion, the same house, and they’ve all turned out so differently. It makes me wonder how anyone can be critical of the efforts heroically taking place in the middle east to negotiate an end to this horrific war? How can we influence when we don’t have control? I am a parent of children with considerable privilege and it’s hard for me. Little me, a nobody whose problems are minute compared with what much of the world faces. I am thankful for the diplomacy and skill of those negotiating. I am thankful we have a president with integrity and experience. I believe he is doing an amazing job with an impossible task. It all weighs heavy as I embark on what I feel with absolute clarity is my correct path. 

I wondered this year if the kids are worried about me? Do they think I’m selfish to take off again? No one says and I don’t ask, I guess because I don’t want to hear potential answers.  I’m clearing out loads of stuff preparing for the renters. I prodded tired butts up to the attic pulling out stuff: What about this? What about this? Want this? There were piles going to new homes, piles going to the dump, piles going to the library, and piles to goodwill. It calmed my nerves to have them there and for a little while I felt the dog was not chasing me.  

The waning light, the cold days, the dark nights, the memories of holidays past, nailing together a story that does not need to out shine any other but stand alone as what it is. No judgement. No control. Just is.

Love to all,


One thought on “Sunday Morning ~ Thanksgiving Thoughts

  1. Kris Hallenburg Reply

    I never stop worrying about my children. Worry or concern. But they are my greatest pleasure.

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