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White Knuckle Parenting: Thankful

Even though it feels like Thanksgiving sneaked up out of nowhere this year, there is a lot that I am thankful for.

You guys, I don't want to freak you out or anything, but Thanksgiving is two days from now. I know. How did that happen?! Just thinking about it makes me a little panicky and sweaty.

The end of November kind of sneaked up on me this year, although I don't know how. Leaves have been turning orange for weeks now, and my kids keep bringing home creative writing assignments that start with "I am thankful for..." What did I think this was for? Election Day? I think maybe I was thrown off by all the Christmas decorations that went up November 1, making me think that it was already December.

Now that I realize that it is Thanksgiving week, I have come to terms with it and wanted to let you know a few of the things that I am thankful for this year.

I am thankful that my husband cooks Thanksgiving dinner—especially considering that I haven't planned for a single thing. It used to be that I cooked everything. Then, one year he wanted to cook the turkey. He very adorably consulted Martha Stewart's website several times and produced a very tasty bird. Buoyed by his success and by my quietly fading back, he eventually ended up cooking everything. I handle birthdays and almost every other holiday, top to bottom, so it's nice to be able to sit around and veg for one holiday a year. And trust me, I veg with gusto.

I am thankful for the one full week of school in November. Seriously, public schools? There will end up being only one week in the whole month longer than three days. My kids, on the other hand, are delighted.

I am thankful for my sense of humor. I have a feeling that my life would be far more dismal if I didn't laugh at myself. I am so glad that I don't take myself too seriously. Also, I find the rest of you kind of hilarious too.

I am thankful for my children's teachers. Because of their different learning styles, I have kids in three different MCPS programs in three different MCPS schools. I am not only thankful that these programs exist, but I am so grateful that we have been able to find intelligent, caring teachers at each of them.

I am thankful that my kids like music, because their pre-bed dance parties in the living room are the high point of my day.

I am thankful for sleep. I'm talking about naps, sleeping in, dozing off when I'm trying to read, going to bed early, how good it feels to finally close my eyes after I have to stay up late to finish something—all of it. My life has turned into one long quest for sleep and I am so thankful when it happens. I'm also thankful for when my kids sleep too.

I am thankful for my new running regimen. This regular exercise has helped teach me to take time for myself and will also help me be healthier for my family. My self-esteem is vastly improved on days that I run, and it is also the best antidepressant I've ever experienced.

I am thankful for my friends. I only moved to Maryland nine years ago. I didn't know anyone when I moved here, yet I have been able to find a group of some of the most solid people I've known in my life. They have made Maryland my home and I am so grateful to have found that home this late in life.

I am thankful for my family. Always. They are my driving force, my joy, my heartache, my muse, my everything. I love their creativity and uniqueness. I love that they love me. My family is the first and last on every list of things that I am thankful for. (Yes, I know that I didn't put them first or last on this list, but that is where they are in my heart.)

I am thankful for you. I am so glad that you come here to read my columns. I'm so glad that the wonderful Patch and its editors welcome me here. I am very thankful that I can share my foibles and successes with you in this long adventure of white knuckle parenting. I sincerely hope that you have much to be thankful for this year and that you have a wonderful thanksgiving.

Jean, a.k.a. Stimey, is a freelance writer who writes a personal blog at Stimeyland and runs an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Stimeyland.

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