Thankful to Be Wrong

After Thanksgiving dinner at our house with my parents and sisters and my husband's father and his girlfriend, I came upstairs from trying to put the baby to bed to find everyone in the kitchen washing and drying dishes. I sat down with Nugget on my lap--bedtime was unsuccessful--and watched, feeling a gratitude that was much greater than a clean kitchen--though that was certainly nice--warranted. I was thinking about how hard I tried to escape my family fifteen years ago, and how lucky I was to have failed. Despite having a very comfortable life, I was a deeply unhappy teenager. It shocks me now to think how little I appreciated my family, and how shortsighted that was. I don't know how to put this into words without making it sound like some schmaltzy columnist in the lifestyles section of the newspaper, when what I felt was so sincere and surprising. I wonder how I'll be able to convey that feeling to Nugget when he is blinded by the desperate self-absorption of adolescence. Life is so long, and adolescence is so short, but it's so hard to see beyond the immediacy of those years. That's not entirely a bad thing; I often miss the fervor with which I felt and thought back then. And it wasn't all misguided. The self-serving cares of my adult life could use a dose of that youthful passion for fighting poverty and pollution and all the other ills of the world. But such single-minded energy was dangerous when it was misdirected, and I shudder to think how empty my life could have become.

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