I didn’t expect that practicing gratitude every day was going to be a quick and easy fix to all our family’s problems, but I am shocked at how hard it is – sometimes – to be grateful for the most precious things in my life – my children.
When things are running smoothly I can easily be mindful and savour their presence and their wonderful characteristics. But when they are being rude, or mean, or selfish or spiteful (like all children are sometimes) I find it really hard to feel the gratitude. I walk away, try to calm myself down, and remind myself that “I have three beautiful, healthy, feisty, independent children and that’s great.” I can say it over and over again, but I don’t feel it in my heart at that moment of frustration or anger or vulnerability. It makes me feel like a spoilt child myself being controlled so much by my negative emotions, rather than appreciating the miracles and precious things in my life. It’s not a nice place to be.
One thing I found that helps (apart from waiting for myself to calm down naturally) was to practice being grateful for something else. I can look at the flowers out of my kitchen window and feel truly thankful for them in my heart. I can think about the blue sky, or my supportive husband, or the fact that my arm does this amazing thing where when I think about opening a drawer, it just goes and does it for me. Then I can really feel it. When I allow gratitude for these things into my heart, it softens my anger, frustration and sense of vulnerability, and enables me to start ‘forgiving’ my children and myself for our imperfections and enables me to embrace and celebrate them again instead.