Friday, December 16, 2011

Feeling Very Blessed

This is one of those "I cursed my fate that I had no gloves until I heard about a man whose $100 cashmere gloves would cost $100 to repair" things.

As we prepared to leave for Nigeria, we were told by more friends than I can count that the only thing keeping them going through their trials was the happy thought that at least they weren't going to Nigeria. ... Gee, thanks. Don't mention it, really.

        Did I just say I have more friends than I can count? When and how did that happen? How blessed I am!

And now my friends are returning the favor - at least I don't have their problems!

I've been overwhelmed on my overtime semester - working every night til midnight or 2am for months, only taking time off for family time on those nights I was actually home and then going back to it, and spent the last week in a feverish rush to get all the grading done for 120 final exams and over 150 papers in under a week.

       And how thankful I am I have had a job this entire time. Not all my friends have, like M&M. My first job market did not have the wonderful outcome this one did. I have colleagues and supervisors who appreciate and praise me. Not everyone has that either.

Coming out here was expensive. There was stress and misery and expense. It was really hard. Joy still gets a catch in her throat remembering it.

        Not nearly as hard as J&S had it. I just read on their blog what a terrible time of it they had! It was an expensive move for both our families, but we still had some savings to fall back on that has been replenished and doubled again. We had people at the airport waiting to greet us, a cool home to walk into, dinner ready for us, a dedicated bureaucracy who took care of everything for us at the embassies and prepped us for everything.... AUN takes good care of us. We are blessed.

Among the hard things over the last few days were the Academic Infraction Forms I had to fill out one after another at 2 and 3 in the morning for students who had plagiarized their last paper or cheated on their last test, and by so doing flunked themselves out of my class. I wept for some of them. I agonized. Probably not as hard as some of them will, but I felt it.

       As the dust was clearing, I counted the infractions. The infractions were but a fraction of those I had to contend with at the beginning of the semester. Things are already getting better. And among the emails turning in various papers and assignments are the occasional words of gratitude and praise and encouragement from my students. It's a wonderful thing to realize how much I will miss those who are moving on. It only hurts because I care. That also is a blessing.

Oh, there are things we do without. We went to the Club tonight so we could have pizza to celebrate Daddy coming home. This is the only place in town where there is pizza, and only Friday nights. When we got there, we found out there was no pizza tonight. The thought of that pizza was one of the things keeping me going through the last couple sleepless nights. When I knew there would be no pizza for me, I nearly broke down and sobbed right there. [Pitiful, aren't I?]

       Meanwhile, N finally learned she gets to do without breast cancer, which up until that point had been a distinct possibility following on a year of broken hearts, broken toes, and a litany of problems enough to make me feel downright blessed. So I live in Nigera! Big deal. I live in Nigeria with my sweetheart. It is enough.

Prince has been doing his impersonation of Jekyl and Hyde this week: 8 time outs Monday, none Tuesday, 9 time outs Wednesday, 1 Thursday... starting having temper tantrums again, can't hit the toilet with a hand grenade...; Princess is screaming harder than ever the instant she gets hungry, not giving anyone a chance to not have a baby in their arms; both of them driving mother to distraction and exhaustion...

       My brother and his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Alanna, yesterday. Their first. Their long-awaited, long-prayed for daughter. I remember what it was like to want each of our children and not have them; the pain of the miscarriage; the longing we and our friends M&J (both sets of M&Js come to think of it) have had waiting and pleading for trials like this. How blessed we all are!

And after all the hair pulling with Prince this week, he turns to me in the swimming pool at the Club and says, "You're a great Daddy." Yes, I am blessed.

It's hard. We were never promised anything else, any of us. Tonight I am thankful for my struggles. I prayed long and hard to get most of them. I am very blessed.