Finding Silver Linings

On the trek over torn up street, yards, and sidewalks to find my car this morning, I had occasion and time to reflect on silver linings – unexpected good that comes from bad.

My musings started as I passed and visited with two different neighbors I’d never met before. One had pushed his granddaughter in her stroller to the edge of the construction area to view the interesting trucks. The other was finding a new route for walking her very happy and friendly dog, as their old route is now impassable. Both encounters made me smile and be thankful for the short-ish, though extremely hot and humid, hike I have to take every morning. A silver lining.

It made me recall a much harder-to-discern silver lining I discovered some time ago that was created by the long-term depression and anxiety of my husband. When our children were very young, their father was too ill to hold a job. It was a terrible time in too many ways to count, but there was a very positive result: He was home with our children for all their preschool years and into their early elementary grades. Though he has sad memories of not being able to truly enjoy that time, what the children saw was a Papa who was right in there with them for every diaper, every play time, every meal, every silly game. I saw and appreciated these things, too, though I also saw the tears and despair he worked so hard to hide from the little ones.

When his health improved just enough and the kids became just old enough that it was “safe” for me to go back to work (a long and painful story for another day), another silver lining appeared: our children never attended day care or after school care. Their father continued to be a stay-at-home dad, and it didn’t hurt that as a teacher my schedule was fairly accommodating to their needs. I know this is a touchy subject and a topic of acrimonious debate, but it was absolutely a non-negotiable for us to have our kids at home until they went to school, and for them to have a parent at home with them after school. I’ve seen the benefits of this cornerstone decision over and over again as they’ve grown and matured, and for me it is perhaps the most important aspect of my husband’s illness, as hard as it was to achieve in terms of my husband’s and my emotional health and our financial stability.

So here’s the deal: The nasty street construction makes me pretty grumpy at times, but it’s led to some lovely encounters. My husband’s brain illness made our lives suck in many ways, but it led to three really awesome kids and priceless family memories.

Silver linings…if only they weren’t so hard to come by.

-Amy

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