I have been trying to write a post for Thanksgiving all week. I want to adequately express what I am thankful for and I just have not been able to. It isn’t that I am ungrateful. I could write a list a mile long of the blessings in my life. But I am having trouble articulating this list in a heartfelt, honest narrative.
You see, right beside that mile long list of blessings is a longer and bigger list of complaints.
I am thankful for my baby BUT he won’t sleep!
I am thankful for my toddler BUT he doesn’t listen to me!
I am thankful for the roof over my head BUT I wish we our home was bigger and cleaner.
I am thankful for my husband BUT won’t someone please tell him how to use a dishwasher?!
I have never considered myself much of a complainer. I don’t shy away from it, but I usually try to maintain a positive outlook as much as possible. Lately however, I have been in a really dark place. I have been living in a body which prioritizes anger over concern for others. I sit with a baby cradled in my arms, an image of absolute perfection and bliss, and I feel my stomach harden because why won’t he sleep? and why is the toddler making so much noise in the other room? and WON’T THEY BOTH SLEEP AND SHUT UP NOW?!
I picture throwing my child into my husband’s arms as soon as he walks through the door after work, and running off for the rest of the evening. And then I hand the baby over to my husband and the baby cries so hard that I realize I am not going to be able to go anywhere soon.
I am run completely ragged and my patience is completely shot and I just know I’d rather be doing anything else but momming right now.
I love my kids. I love being a mother. I love my life. But I am so not in a grateful mood.
As parents of a toddler, we spend a lot of time reminding Cameron to be thankful. Usually Cameron has the perfectly polite reply, “Tane-tou Mama”, but every once in a while he needs to be reminded.
Gratitude is rarely our first response when we’re granted something awesome. It certainly isn’t our most natural inclination. Normally we just think about how incredible our life will become now that this awesome thing is in it. But when our world doesn’t dramatically change for the better, we’re left feeling dejected.
Unless we chose gratitude.
When we chose gratitude we realize that gifts go beyond their immediate effect on our lives. There is love in the act of giving. Life is actually made up of more beautiful parts than ugly.
It all depends on how we look at it.
We teach children to be polite because we want them to succeed in society. We need them to be well liked and fit in with social mores. But deep down, I don’t just want the words “Thank You” to be automatic on their lips. I want it to be a real heart thing. I want my boys to understand blessings and gifts and how beautiful life is because we are granted such things. I want them to live out an attitude of gratitude. And so, I constantly encourage Cameron to think thankful. “What do you say?”
That outlook changes the outcome of our lives.
I need to throw away the complain list and focus on the gratitude list. I need to take those extra hours of baby snuggles I am granted because he is sleeping less and remember that he will grow up way too fast. I need to watch my toddler learn and grow and never forget the magic of his childhood. I need to grab hold of my husband and recognize how much weight he lifts off my shoulders each time he walks through the front door.
I need an attitude of gratitude.
This blog post took a long time to write. I was working on it all last week. I really was in a dark place. I was so worn down that my body got sick. It wasn’t until after I recovered from my physical illness that I was able to see things a little differently and finish writing this post. I truly believe that our attitude helps define our outlook. I also believe that sometimes, no matter how hard we try, that attitude can be really hard to come by. If you’re feeling how I did at the beginning of the post, give yourself a break. Allow yourself some grace. I am okay now. I hope you will be too.