Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

They’re Only Little Once

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

They're Only Little Once“They’re only little once.”

Having four children under the age of six has given me a concentrated experience in the toddler/preschool years. These years have been filled with so much fun and goodness: snuggles and finger paints, first steps and sloppy kisses, pure joy at the sight of a puppy, and sincere heartbreak at saying goodbye to Grandma. These kids love fully and completely, and they share that wonderful adoration with everyone they encounter. It is beautiful and fulfilling.

And then, there’s the other side of it.

There’s the constant screaming. The battles over bedtime. The sleepless nights from teething, and the battle of tooth versus nipple. There are the days where poopy diapers feel like a deliberate punishment for any hope I previously had that I might not have to wipe another butt that day. There’s the constant cooking, the constant cleaning, and the inability to remember the last time I slept for longer than three hours. It’s the inevitability that every single kid will develop middle-of-the-night-stomach-flu when Daddy’s out of town.

It seems there is a very limited space in which the hard parts are allowed to be spoken of. With the appropriate splash of snark and quick qualification that of course, I wouldn’t trade them for anything, you can get away with a quick complaint of the difficult parts related to any stage of parenting. Particularly during this time of year where gratitude is a common topic on social media, there is a lot of pressure to focus solely on the gratitude for the good things, the easy things, related to parenting.

Here’s the thing, though: You can be grateful for the good parts of a stage of your child’s development while also having gratitude that this stage doesn’t last forever.

For those of us who have been carrying a burden of shame for not loving every miniscule aspect of parenting, this can be an immense relief. Giving yourself permission to acknowledge the things that are difficult to deal with allows the hard feelings to pass. Focusing on the gratitude that this stage, too, shall pass, allows for an emotional refocus on the light at the end of the tunnel.

There is space to love all of the wonderful parts of parenting and also love that the hard parts are not forever. “They’re only little once.” And in some ways, thank goodness for that.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway. 

Whose Mother’s Day is it Anyway?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

334207_496956690320518_1327671256_oLast year, I nearly forgot about Mother’s Day. As parents of a preschooler, toddler and newborn, we were just treading water through a sea of cluster feeds, mealtimes, diapers, bath times and bedtimes, just trying not to go under. If there wasn’t a play date or appointment of some sort scheduled, I usually had no idea what day it was.

So when we got home from church and were now painfully aware that we had missed Mother’s Day, I made an effort via email and sent my mom a gift certificate to one of her favorite stores. I made a mental note to call in case she hadn’t checked email that day, but I figured she’d probably call me at some point and I would tell her about it then.

But she never called.

It wasn’t until I spoke to her the next day–she brightened when I mentioned the email gift card, which she had not seen—that it hit me. My mom didn’t call me, not because she forgot, but because she thought that I forgot her.

I think Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents’ Day are great days. Sure, you can chalk them up to the greeting card industry and just another reason to buy flowers and candy, but I want to use days like these to teach my girls the huge importance of telling people that you value them. Especially people like moms and dads and grandparents, people who pour their very heart and soul into you each day so that you feel confident, secure and loved. I also try to let them see me acknowledge people around me without waiting for a holiday to say thanks. Gratitude is a practice, not a special-occasion behavior.

But I think there is a time to let go of Mother’s Day, and I have decided that when my girls are mothers, I am passing the torch. They will have full schedules, full brains, full hands, and full hearts, and it will be time for me to turn and appreciate them in their important role as mother, without giving them one more thing to remember—or forget.

I will still be their mom. They will still call me mom, always. But it will be time for me to give the day to them.

Erin Burt is a freelance writer and mother of three who lives and writes in Queensbury, New York. 

Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude Part 1

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.” – Eileen Caddy

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, this time of year reminds us of the importance of cultivating a thankful spirit. Often we want our children to experience the same depth of gratitude that we do. Here are some simple ways to foster an attitude of gratitude with your children. Even very young children can be encouraged to participate.

Create a Daily Thankful Ritual – Take time everyday to express one or two things you are thankful for. Create a ritual around it so it easily becomes embedded into your daily routine. For example, in my family we say what we are thankful about every night at bedtime. After reading books and before the lights go out, we each take a turn sharing two things we were thankful about that day. My middle son often repeats what others have said, but that’s okay. He is listening, participating, and benefiting from the conversation; and he will eventually contribute his own unique ideas. I like doing this at bedtime because it’s a positive way to reflect on the day’s events, it brings closure to the day as we prepare our minds/bodies for sleep, and since going to bed happens 100% of the time, it’s rarely missed. 🙂

J playing with his blue kite

Start a Wishlist – Now initially reading this you might think creating a list of desired items is in direct opposition with fostering an attitude of gratitude, but bear with me here as I explain. Most kids frequently ask their parents for materials things. They will see something advertised, see something at a store or play with something at a friend’s house and exclaim that they want it. Rather than granting them a yes or no response, what about encouraging them to put that item on a wishlist? A young child could draw a picture of the item and an older child could write the word. You can keep the wishlist in a visible location such as on the refrigerator. The thought here is that when desire for something grows over time, the appreciation of recieving that item grows correspondingly. A story is born, a memory is made, and a heart is filled with gratitude when gifted something you have yearned for. For example, one day while taking a walk my son saw some children flying a kite. He was really mesmerized by the kite and asked if he could have one. I suggested we add it to his wishlist. When we got home I talked with him about what kind of kite he would like, size, shape, colors, etc. He decided he wanted a blue kite and he drew a picture of one. The picture of the blue kite was on up on our refrigerator for months. My son would reference it often and was really hopeful that one day he would have a blue kite. Well one day my husband surprised all of us and came home from work with a blue kite. I will always remember the joy and excitement my son expressed. He was truly grateful for his new kite and I believe his deep gratitude was related to the fact that a genuine desire was honored, as well as cultivated over time.

Model Gratitude –Modeling a thankful heart is relatively easy to do however too often we forget to do this consciously. We get caught up talking with our spouse and friends about all the things we want from a new phone to a new house. We sometimes forget that little ears are listening to us and learning from us. By shifting our focus on wanting what we have (versus having what we want) we can instill in our children a sense of appreciation for the many blessings present in our lives. Be the example you want your children to become.

What are you thankful for today? I would love to hear from readers!

Come back tomorrow for three more ideas on Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude.