Susan Kennedy’s post last week, What I Know For (Almost) Sure, got me thinking about what I know for sure…
Summer. I’ve always declared it a gift. As a teacher, I treasure the days that I get to devote all of my time and energy to just being a mom. No need to rush, pack lunches, wake sleeping children. Time to play with them, read them stories, to give them my all.
In June, on the last day of school, I looked across that open July calendar and saw so much possibility….
Fast forward to about day two of summer with my three strong willed and opinionated daughters and I found myself wondering where the fun was hiding. There was bickering and button pushing between the older girls and lots of “helpful” moving of objects and rearranging cabinets and folded laundry by the one year old. My patience was short. I’ll admit, there was yelling. Where was the joy? The lighthearted play and laughter?
Maybe we needed more activity, more play dates, time at the pool, more ice cream. More activity uncovered comments like “what are we doing tomorrow?” “That wasn’t really fun.” “It’s not fair.”
By day four of summer, I was exhausted and feeling like a mom failure. I knew I had to regroup fast. We needed more positive. We all needed to notice more of the good.
I gave each of my girls a brand new spiral bound notebook, a gratitude journal. “We’re going to write the things we are grateful for each day,” I explained.
“What if we don’t have anything to be grateful for,” my oldest daughter Wren asked.
I bit my tongue and took a deep breath before responding. “The thing about gratitude is, the more you notice things to be grateful for, the more grateful your heart becomes. There’s always something to be grateful for. We will find it together.”
The journals have been a nice way to fill moments in the day that need filling. “Why don’t you go write in your gratitude journal,” I’ll suggest when boredom sets in or voices get a little whiny. It’s been a great way for all of us to slow down and find the small joys in a day. Even when we don’t actually write, it’s been nice to say, “that’s something you could put in your gratitude journal,” or, “way to be grateful!”
One day, the girls were doing something where there had to be someone who went first. I held my breath. Moments like these always bring out arguments. “She can just go first,” Wren surprised me. “I’ll just have a turn when she’s done.” I stopped in my tracks.
“That’s really kind of you, I said. “It looks like your heart is really filling with gratitude.”
There have been more and more moments like this as the summer has progressed, moments where I notice more patience and positive responses. These moments remind me that we get what we seek. By simply slowing myself and my children down, gratitude has become a part of our day- not just when writing in journals or when prompted, but I see it trickling into their being. Of course there are still those ungrateful and whiny moments- but I now find myself noticing and feeling really grateful for the positive ones.
So with a new school year upon us, one thing I know for sure is that what we project and seek, is what we will find. The beginning of the school year is filled with so much possibility, just like that open July calendar. What will you seek? Whatever it is, I’m quite sure, you will find it.