Gratitude and Grown Ups

We have a practice with our kids that when they are stuck in a complaining-only mode- we make them say a certain number of things they are thankful for.

You can see my previous post for an example of how magical this can be. It works on my 2 year-old, 4 year-old, 11 year-old, and 12 year-old.

Today I re-realized that it also works on a 30 year-old.

I’ve been sick with the worst cold of my entire memory for seven days and counting. Two days of intense headaches, then two days of repeated fevers, chills, and total non-functional living (I pretty much slept for 36 hours). I started to come out of the fog… but couldn’t breathe for an entire day (until I found the perfect blend of Neti pot, congestion spray, and ibuprofen), a day of face pain, and a day of snot: today. I’ll spare you the details. Other than last night my pinkie toenail fell off…. random! No injury, no infection, just came right off. *sigh*

You can see why I was caught in a mind-cycle of misery. Each day I’ve improved in health… and each day had a new challenge to face. Sometimes when I cough, I also pee. Really? I’d had it.

Something struck my on the drive to my son’s pre-school.

“Corban, you know how I have you say things you’re thankful for when you’re stuck complaining?”

“Mmm-hmmm” came the sweet reply.

“Well, Mommy is stuck complaining and I need to say things I’m thankful for.” He completely understood, of course.

Image by Lachlan Hardy

My list began, “I’m so thankful for each of my children- the unique ways that God has made them- and that He would bless my life with them. I’m thankful that today looks like it’s going to be a sunny day. I’m thankful that they’ve found a home for us in Germany- and that it’s better than I could have dared imagine. I’m thankful that I’m not as sick as other much less fortunate people who put me to shame with what they endure. I’m so thankful for my friend Dorina– what a gift to me (and one that I’m not ready to say good-bye to!)”

My list carried on and the tears came.

Picture this… a congested mommy, with a nasal-frog voice listing these gifts… tears falling, voice wavering… getting higher pitched and weepy. Oh, my poor children.

I explained that saying what I was thankful for reminded me of the many good things God has given me… and that makes my heart so happy that tears come out!

He giggled. I’m sure he was thinking, “My mom might be nuts…” but he hid it well.

The amazing thing was that 1) the tears cleared something in my sinuses and I could breathe a little better and 2) I felt better. Not healthier. Lighter. Lifted. An end to the dreariness was in sight because I’d chosen to shift my focus. Ahhhhh, the sweetness of looking at things greater than myself. I may be sick for another 7 days (that’s how long I’m hearing this cold lasts) but so what?! I have SO much to be thankful for and I will not let a stinkin’ cold rob me of all things beautiful!

Yes, gratitude even works on the grown-ups.

Life from a Thinker’s Perspective

Part 3 of “Feelings from a Thinker’s Perspective”
Read Part 1 HERE
Read Part 2 HERE

When I started out on this three part journey I had no idea what Part 3 would entail. I just knew that all good blogs have one (lol ☺). Not that this alone makes a good blog…

But the other night it hit me like a brick. I knew what I’d be writing.

Life from a Thinker’s perspective.

Last week my oldest had a stomach bug. My youngest got Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. My 3 year-old began to complain of a stomachache. My world of perfect health was being rocked…. in the same way that my one year-old loves to rock babies in their carseats… with really good intentions, love, and a LOT of turbulence.

Even though their illnesses were really small compared to the possibilities of disease out there, it was enough to shock me back to my senses. I could have let the feelings overwhelm me and become an over-protective, over-antibacterializing, over-everything kind of person. Instead, I sat back and reflected on these feelings and found the cause.

I take my family’s health for granted.

Not every day.

But on many.

How easily I assume that we will all stay well and be long-living if A. B. and C. are in place. We eat healthily. Drink healthily. Live healthily. We’ve got it covered, right? But even this is not truly in our control. I’ve known super active and healthy people to die on the spot of aneurisms. Or heart attacks. Okay, it’s not the norm, but it has happened.

And it could happen to me. I could be looking my lively child in the face when the phone rings. Brain Tumor. Cancer. Car accident. NameYourDisease. NameYourAccident.

I know that this has happened to some of you. I’m sure you rarely take life for granted. (It’s happened to me too, but not with a spouse or child or my own parent).

Again, I could have let this feeling and realization leave me feeling hopeless, overwhelmed, and forever terrified of the ringing phone, knock on the door, walking outside of my house.

Instead I chose to consider what can be done.

I can choose to live presently in every single moment that I am given with my kids. With my loved ones. How easily I forget this and begin to resent my family for being… my family! Because I just swept that or I’m trying to get the laundry done or could I please just pay this bill or write this book or… or… or…

And then that moment comes. And they are gone. And I have all the time in the world to do those things. Anyone can clean my house or do my laundry. But only I can be their mother. Be his wife.

The weight of days wasted feels so heavy. The hope of days yet to come feels so light and free.

That next morning I burned my to-do list. My two toddlers and I made ice cream in baggies, practiced fishing in the swimming pool, played in the water-park in our yard, looked for bugs…. Lived.

Together.

Presently.

No resentment.

Just the loving eyes of my kids, while I have them, a day lived.

My husband and older two kids came home. The floors were un-swept. The laundry was still sitting in the basket. I was putting the dishes away as I cooked dinner.

“Whoops, you caught me trying to make it look like I’ve kept the house up all day!” I laughed as he walked in. Then I told him what I had done.

And you know what? He didn’t care about all the stuff left to do. He simply entered the moment with us. Set down his work stuff. Grabbed our kids. And burned his to-do list too.

Living presently.

Why waste it worrying? Fretting? Trying to change the things I can’t?

Instead I choose to live NOW. My house will get clean (during nap times and bed times). But more importantly, my kids will know I love them. And we will all enjoy each other to the fullest while it’s ours to enjoy.

What will you choose? What does it look like for you to choose now?


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