My youngest daughter and her husband sat at my dining room table recently. She had come a little early and talked as she graded her students’ papers. He came shortly after but hung out with the neighbor’s dogs for a few minutes before coming inside. We fixed our plates in the kitchen, then chatted in the dining room. We finished the main meal, and I stood up to get dessert.
I stood for a moment at the table, listening to the two of them chat. I sighed and smiled, then retreated to the kitchen so they didn’t see the tears in my eyes.
They weren’t sad tears. They were tears of gratitude. Despite the pain of the past couple years, despite the massive fractures in our family, despite me no longer getting to share life with my best friend and life partner, I have good relationships with my girls and their men. And I am thankful. It takes daily humility and a constant willingness to listen and process at their own paces. It takes a willingness to change and grow and consider different perspectives. But the effort is worth it.
My new normal is good. I am finding contentment. I am choosing joy.
It is still hard, but working through the hard isn’t a bad thing. It is often that struggle that clears the way for healthy growth.