Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gratitude In Frustration

In honor of Thanksgiving, I'm doing a small series on Gratitude. (Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.) I'm thankful for so many blessings in life, many of which get overlooked on a daily -- hourly -- basis. In hopes that I'll remember to be more in touch with gratitude in tiny ways each day, I am turning my blessings loose to the internets. May you, also, find gratitude in the minutiae of life this Thanksgiving season.

If I am grateful for the wonders of motherhood, I am equally grateful for patience in handling motherhood. When I am driven thisclose to losing my temper, stopping to be grateful for the chance to practice patience is sometimes the furthest thought from my mind. But, to live in gratitude means that I must seek out ways to experience its beauty.

When the box of broken and tattered crayons is spilled (dumped?) for the 5th time in an afternoon, sending bits of waxy crumbs all over the kitchen floor, I am grateful for the chance to illustrate a life lesson: dump the crayons, and coloring is over.

When my 19-month old scales the bistro-table-height chairs before climbing to the edge of the even-taller kitchen table to do a dance which will knock over a glass of juice, I am grateful that she is strong and able. I am grateful that she did not fall -- this time. I am grateful for the industrial sized jug of juice that is waiting in the wings, and the drawer full of towels to clean up the mess. I am grateful that she has such great dance moves; I hear those are handy.

When my big girl tells me she doesn't love me anymore, she only loves daddy now instead, I am thankful that she has such a wonderful father to love. Perhaps even more (selfishly so), I am thankful that I have a husband who will quickly enumerate for Mia all the reasons she should be thankful for me. I am thankful for her comfort in speaking her feelings, even when they aren't what I want to hear. I am thankful that she will most certainly change her allegiance again tomorrow.

When there is toddler poop under my fingernails after an energetic diaper-changing session, I am grateful for warm water and foaming soap. I am grateful that potty training is just around the corner. I am grateful that my child has enough healthy food to keep her body working regularly. I am grateful for my cold which prevents me from smelling the disastrous diaper.

When eating out at a restaurant and Mia is fascinated enough by a woman with generous proportions to say (loudly): "I think she ate too much food, her belly is FULL!" I am thankful for Lauren's impatient yelling which has hopefully obscured her sister's insult. I am thankful for Mia's inquiring mind and imaginative thoughts. I am thankful that our budget limits our ability to dine out on a regular basis, therefore Mia's highly descriptive words aren't set upon the general public very often.

When my daughters wreck a room with spilled snacks, scattered toys, and screaming chaos, I am grateful that we are able to provide them with a safe place to mess up at all. I am grateful that they can entertain themselves. I am grateful that they are unbearably cute, because sometimes they can behave SO unattractively that the cuteness seems to be their only redeeming quality.

When it has been a long day filled with some combination of all of the above instances, I am filled with profound gratitude that my husband is no longer a road-warrior; he will be home soon. All I have to do is find a small measure of patience to sustain me until he arrives. Or until bedtime -- the point at which we can look back on the wonder of another day spent raising children and laugh at the antics of our darling daughters. Because, strangely enough, the time they spend sleeping seems to be the time when our gratitude is downright overflowing.

Go figure.

In what unpredictably messy moments do you experience gratitude? (Even if it's forced...)


  1. Ha! I had a moment yesterday where I rose after feeding Noah to go change his diaper and he promptly threw up all over my shirt. For a split second, I was disgusted at the mess. I took a glance at him and he was grinning from ear to ear. How could I be irritated with that?! And I was grateful, if anything, that at least the boy is eating well and happy.

    I love this series!

  2. I am also thankful for warm water and soap after daiper changes. So many people worldwide don't have this basic necessity.

  3. You ARE amazing!

    I am thankful for my husband, who is an amazing parenting partner, and always encourages me that I am, in fact, not the worst mother EVER!

  4. I am grateful for my cold which prevents me from smelling the disastrous diaper.

    Ha! That's definitely being grateful.

    Even in the toughest moments I am always profoundly grateful for the weight and feel and smell of my babies (kids - whatever!).

  5. Oh Lauren! Dancing on the table, huh? She and Penelope would SO get along. I like the idea of intentionally practicing gratitude in the face of frustration. And I can relate to the big girl's "I don't love you anymore" outburst. Somehow, with my big girl, I'm still grateful for her clenched fists and swingy little braids even as she storms away. But practicing gratitude in the face of messiness? Now THAT'S a challenge!

  6. Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE reading all your comments??

    Thanks, guys :)

  7. I've got one from my (now 10 year old) daughter's toddler years. When I wake up in the middle of the night to tears and vomit, I am thankful for the ability to comfort her- and for the washing machine and shower.

  8. I admire how you display the heart of a gracious mother in these moments, yet without a note of pretentiousness. You must be as genuine in real life as you seem to be in our little world of mommy-blogness.

  9. On my most trying, most tiring days, I'm still grateful that I'm able to stay at home with my son. That is the biggest blessing in the world. It keeps me sane, even with scatter crayons on the floor, and paint on the rug.

  10. I have really enjoyed this whole series! I'm grateful for the moments of silent communication between mommy & baby or husband & wife. When my baby looks so lovingly into my eyes as I nurse her, and I know she feels secure and loved - how amazing it feels to be able to give so freely to her. The times I catch my husband looking at me admiringly from across a room, how proud I am to be his wife and know how much he loves me.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?