Gratitude Friday. The first of many.

Remember how I said I wanted to focus more on gratitude? Well, I thought it appropriate to share it here, and hope that some of you might join me. In my daily life, where I’m all too often overwhelmed or unable to see things outside of my own foggy point of view, gratitude provides a sure moment of clarity. I once heard that 9 out of 10 of our thoughts are negative. At first this statement seemed crazy to me- it couldn’t possibly be that much. But then, I started to pay more attention to my own thoughts, and also to what people had to say, and sure enough, most things were tinged with some level of discontent or criticism. Now, certainly there’s a place for those thoughts, but 9 out of 10? The world has far too much good in it to dedicate that much brain space to our complaints. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, hanging on my wall: "Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have." (Unknown) And so, in the spirit of reversing this trend, I’m following in Adrie’s footprints and doing my own "Gratitude Friday", because you just can’t have enough gratitude in your life.

Today, I’m grateful for my children. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see things through their eyes. I’m grateful for the teachers I have in them.

Yesterday Vera and I found some mouse bones in the herb garden. She was so curious, and I did my best to explain to her about the mouse’s death, and it’s body returning to the earth, leaving his bones behind. We studied the bones, and I pointed out the head, the ribs, the little claws, its tail… We felt our own bones. We talked about how everything dies, and that a mouse dying in a garden is not a sad death, not like the ducks. (Note: the other day my sister and niece were witness to two ducks getting run over on Michigan Avenue. They attempted to stop traffic, but turned around just moments too late. My sister and another man took the bodies off of the road and she and Tuula said blessings over them. They told Vera and I this story and for days after Vera asked about the ducks and expressed her sadness about the cars. I even asked her about the chickens that we killed and wondered if she felt the same way, but she seemed to understand the difference.) She said they were a little scary, so I told her we could bury the bones. We put them in the little grave, decorated it with marigolds and sticks, and she was very pleased. It’s been such a good experience for me, to have to explain these things, these honest-life things, to my little girl. I have to choose my words carefully, I have to wait in anticipation for her reaction, I have to be there to answer the new questions that come- some that I just don’t have the answer to. I have to be willing to say I’m sorry, to work to see things from her perspective, to give her comfort and love even when I feel like my own tank is close to dry. This job is one that keeps me grounded, keeps me thinking, keeps me working to be a better person.

And my sweet baby. I won’t lie, having an infant is hard. It’s awesome and beautiful and all of that, but sometimes it’s just hard. The noise, the trying to juggle both their needs, the desire for just the tiniest break, for just some space to think… The other day I took both kids to the co-op to get some staples, and he started to fuss. I took them outside and walked him until he calmed down, explaining the situation to Vera. I felt very together and like I could handle it. We went inside and he started fussing again. I just explained that we had to go back outside to Vera, and she followed me. After another nice walk, he was calm and I felt ready to go back in. Then, half way through our shopping, he started screaming. I had to practically drag Vera out, who had her eye on some treats. People were looking at us, it just wasn’t comfortable. We tried to nurse, someone came outside and asked if I needed help, it just wasn’t happening. He was just screaming. I gave up and left for home, anxious and embarrassed about the basket I’d left half full on the floor of the co-op. But as I was leaving, I realized that life just requires this sometimes. Sometimes we have to drop everything and just take some space. Anyway, this sweet fussy boy is turning into a smiley cooing baby, and is just sturdier lately. He’s overcoming some of his infant discomfort, and I’m getting stronger and better at this whole thing- I know how to soothe him, how to make him laugh, how to deal with both of them at the same time, how better to endure and stay positive… I look back now just a few weeks, and I think- We did it. We got through it. I’m stronger and better for it. And I know that’s what we’ll keep doing. It’s just going to keep getting better.
I remember on day two with Vera, she was screaming and we called our midwife, thinking something just must be wrong. She comforted us and assured us that, really, this was a big adjustment for baby, too. In that moment it just clicked for me. It continues to be true- I am always better at this job when I try to see things from their perspectives. Even from a tiny baby’s point of view, I’m better able to weather the storm when I imagine what it must be like for them, all these new sights and sounds and sensations, struggling to make sense of this world. And then I get to watch them piece it all together, and it’s amazing. The world would be a much better place if we all attempted to see things from each other’s point of view. I’m grateful for the opportunity to practice this with my kids.

What are you grateful for today?

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