So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

I didn’t know how ungrateful I was.

I didn’t know that I should hold every hug a little bit longer or maybe tip a little bit more or say a few more kind words to the stranger providing me a service.

I didn’t think my hairdresser needed to worry about her business going under. I couldn’t imagine how warehouses full of everyday necessities would become a danger zone. I could not grasp that long-standing restaurant chains or my favorite local pizza joint would have to shutter their doors seemingly overnight.

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I love my people well. I try to be kind. I want others to feel appreciated.

But I didn’t know how ungrateful I was for my extraordinarily ordinary life.

It was hard to believe that something I couldn’t even see or feel or touch would shut schools down, breaking my kids’ hearts, and in turn, my own.

And just as I watched in amazement as law enforcement officers and fire rescue workers and EMTs ran selflessly into the burning buildings on 9-11, we see these heroes stepping up to the plate again, along with doctors and nurses and health professionals who walk into the flaming doors of hospitals every day to care for the sick–and carry the burden for us all.

I didn’t know how ungrateful I was.

So, each day I file these feelings away in the memory bank of my mind. I want to remember what it felt like when the world crashed to a halt.

I want to remember how my family squeezed onto our couch night after night, a child laying a head on my shoulder, my husband’s knee pushing into my pajama-clad leg.

I want to remember hearing my three kids arguing about something ridiculous after weeks of being cooped up together, and then smiling as the words suddenly turned to giggles and then to belly laughs.

I want to remember the long walks I took when my mind sat in quiet, the board games played over and over, and the books I read.

I want to remember how hard my husband worked to keep his employees in the food manufacturing business safe, how teachers taught high school students with their own babies resting in their laps, how my work colleagues juggled small kids and anxiety and caring for older relatives while finishing tasks into the late hours of the night.

And I want to remember the anxious moments when sleep wouldn’t come and I wondered how this would all end. I want to remember how I lost my breath in deep sobs while watching the news and how my face grew hot with frustration at others’ actions. I want to remember the sacrifices that were made to keep our citizens safe. I even want to remember the fear I had for my family’s safety, the lengths I took to keep them safe.

One day, this will end.

The sidewalks will be crowded on city streets and the smell of garbage and hot pretzels and Indian take-out food will permeate the air—and it will be glorious.

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You’ll watch from your seat at a fancy coffee shop with good friends as a young mom with small children approaches two senior citizens, and you’ll smile as a chubby toddler struggles to climb up onto his grandfather’s lap, finally wrapping two small arms around his wrinkled neck. You’ll book tickets on a plane for a family vacation, go to the movies, watch your child’s orchestra concert, and cheer at their graduations.

But before that happens, I want to remember it all—every gut-wrenching, tragically beautiful moment of this.

I want to remember it all, so I’ll never be ungrateful for this life again.

Whitney Fleming

Whitney is a mom of three teen daughters, a freelance writer, and co-partner of the site parentingteensandtweens.com You can find her on Facebook at WhitneyFlemingWrites.

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