I opened this account this morning to read that some of my posts had been accidentally deleted. Seems the person who handles the server this account is on screwed up and now I’m missing pieces that I’ve written. Ironically, I’m missing one post that garnered a ton of feedback. Super.
I also read first thing this morning a prompt from my friend Jessica’s website asking, “what would you do if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you were grateful for today.” I put that in quotes but quite honestly I’m not sure it’s word for word. I’m too busy taking deep breaths and trying not to scream in frustration to go back and check the exact wording.
The important part of the prompt was focusing on gratitude. I am a firm believer in this as a guiding principal of life. I mean, take this morning for example: I’m (still!) sick and coughing like a pack-a-day smoker, the weather is miserable, I had a kid in my bed for some of the night because of nightmares so no one slept well. Also, I’m sore from a killer workout yesterday and I spent a good portion of yesterday afternoon fighting over a $700+ electric bill. Then I wake up to find out the people I PAY to take care of this site screwed it up and lost my work and the email I get about it is light-hearted at best.
I could choose to wallow in everything that has gone wrong. Which of course would mean I would be ugly, and mean and scream at my kids (who have done nothing wrong by the way, but don’t they always absorb our misdirected anger?) or call and yell at the server lady or take it out on the poor operator for the electric company. But I’m not. I did send an email back voicing my disappointment because I believe I shouldn’t just take things and be silent. But I did not scream at my kid when he demanded more orange juice in the middle of that email. I did not call and scream at the Website Company and I, so far, have no screamed in anger at anyone I care about (or anyone at all).
You know why? Pure, unadulterated effort and focus. I decided when it was time to load the car that I would grit my teeth and fake happy. Then, when I dropped my kids off at school, I stopped the car a little longer and watched them run all the way in, their back-packs bouncing and their uniforms neat and pressed. I watched and took a moment to be grateful, not just for them and their health and vitality, but for their clothes and their lunch boxes and the food that was in them because The Husband and I work hard to provide those and it wasn’t long ago we nearly couldn’t. On the drive home from school I thought of the kid in my bed and how soon enough she’ll be a surly teen who won’t even want to look me in the eye much less share my bed when she’s scared. I am grateful for nine year old her. I thought of the electric bill and as much as I feel duped and angry, I chose to focus on having lights and heat and air when I need it. It might seem silly, to be thankful for lights, but there are a lot of people who don’t have them and for sure there were months in my not-so-distant past where we wondered if we could keep them. So for lights, I was grateful.
And so the car ride went, turning all my frustration on it’s head and instead focusing on gratitude. It’s not easy. I can still feel the fire of frustration simmering very close to my heart and lungs. I will acknowledge it, but I will not dwell on it. Instead, I’ll dwell on all the things I’m happy to have. Because I sure wouldn’t want to wake up without them tomorrow.**
**Follow up-in the midst of writing this post, my littlest boy came up and guess what he was doing? Yup, screaming in anger. That’s his default setting-grouch. So, I decided to use it to see if I could teach him what I myself am trying to learn. I told him what I was writing. I told him what I was doing and all the things I could be grouchy about but that I was focusing on good stuff instead. We talked about what was good in his day. Now, I hear him on the couch whispering, “I’m still a little grouchy, but I have this nice warm blanket, and The Fresh Beats and soon mom will be on the couch.” Are you kidding me?!?! That is the best part of the day and the one I will focus on every time I want to wring people’s necks today!
P.S. Looking for more parenting guidance and tips for self-care? Check out From Chaos to Calm a guided training to help you feel better in this tough season.