A Gratitude List
As the queen of preemptive (and often unnecessary) fear and stress, I’d be hard-pressed to find an easier task than identifying something…anything…to worry about. I can just as easily find the next thing to worry about should my first choice actually turn out to be of no concern. I’ve talked to enough people about this to know it is simply a part of my personality. I’m a worrier.
Matt and I have spent some time in couples therapy this year, and our very first homework assignment was to simply be grateful. But like, practically, it was to focus on/talk about/write about/think of what we are grateful for to really bring it to awareness.
As a mother, I struggle most with the things I cannot control. So why not consider what I’m grateful for in those times, specifically? What else is there to talk about? Besides the election.
1. The best caretakers. I trust every single person I’ve ever left Isla in the hands of. Even if I am riddled with worry she will slip and hit her head, fall off the couch backwards and hurt her neck, get pummeled by a puppy, or choke on a blueberry, it is a fact that I’m grateful I don’t ever have to worry about her being abused, neglected, or mistreated in any way. I’m so grateful that even if the things I fear the most were to happen, those whom I entrust Isla with would know what the next best thing to do was, and they’d do it. This is not a given. Not every parent has the luxury of available, loving, and willing grandparent reinforcement or the option of a really wonderful daycare/school.
2. Job flexibility. I don’t have to have my fantasy job (which, for the record, is to be employed by Oprah. Be it in her garden or on her network, I care not) to feel a deep appreciation for the flexibility and support I have at work. I’m beyond thankful that should I ever be in a bind and need to leave unexpectedly, I can do so without fear of losing my job. What a dream. Seriously. There are absolutely days when I slip into the inevitable working mom’s guilt of not figuring out a way to stay home, but thank God for the flexibility that is in place.
3. How Matt and I fight. I didn’t know before marrying Matt almost five years ago when we were SO CLUELESS AND YOUNG that he was, by nature, a thousand times more patient than I, especially in conflict. I really didn’t know! We didn’t have our first legit fight until we were married. Don’t worry, it more than made up for lost time. I didn’t know that he would be pro therapy when we weren’t even near the end of our rope. There are many husbands who would think divorce would need to be on the table to even consider couples therapy, and some who wouldn’t even then! Matt isn’t one of those. I didn’t know because I didn’t know that part of myself even. I am grateful, even in the conflict, for who I chose and who chose me. He teaches me how to listen and not interrupt so much, and I teach him…something. There’s something I teach him. I can’t remember exactly but it is PROFOUND. And he’s super thankful and he loves me so much for it, I swear.
4. Friends who are like…real. I have real grownup friends. The mature kind. The drama-free kind. The thoughtful kind. The best friends ever. You know who you are. I have never valued my friendships as much as I do in this stage of life. I want to take really great care of these relationships, and step 1 is to recognize how lucky I am to have them. I truly had little control over how these women came into (or in certain cases, back into) my life, but I highly doubt I could’ve arranged for anything better if I had the control over my life and the people in it I seem to crave so badly.
5. A house. And all the things that fall under this. A dishwasher. A crib. A washer and dryer. A comfortable bed and AC. Food in the pantry & fridge. We lose power for 45 minutes and I’m instantly aware that my dream house is NOT the Scandinavian room tour I’ve accidentally pinned 4x, but in fact it is whatever house my healthy baby and husband live in with me.
How did I get so lucky? There are many more people, places, and things I am grateful for, but the idea is this: There is beauty and thanksgiving to be found in every single scenario. If you can switch gears, even just once during the week, and try hard to focus on what you’re grateful for in the moments of insecurity/fear/doubt/darkness, your perspective may start to shift on its own naturally. Write it down. Start a blog just for that. Record a note on your phone. Document it somehow. Like I hear muscle memory is a thing in people who work out? Maybe this can be like that.
What are you grateful for in those moments that feel difficult to draw gratitude from?