Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Rush of Gratitude

Gratitude is a funny thing.  Sometimes the things we are most grateful for create the most havoc in our lives.  In my case, I have always wanted a house bustling with children and a loving husband to share it with.  The days my sons were born were among the happiest in my life.  And yet there are times when these little blessings make me want to jump in an escape hatch and end up anywhere else.

Yesterday was one of those times.  We took our morning walk and my dog spotted a neighbor (who happens to give him a treat everyday) walking behind us.  He took off and spun me completely around.  He continued tugging backwards block after block even when my youngest needed to be held and even when my oldest found a stray 2x4 that he needed help carting home.  I did my best to accommodate everyone's needs but I would have needed eight arms instead of two to juggle it all well.

We made it back home and my little one began crying about just about everything.  He continued these bouts of crying every five minutes or so for hours.  I can usually nip the issue in the bud but I couldn't seem to guess correctly.  He has about 20 words but anytime we say, "use your words," he pauses as if deep in thought and says, "Brrr."  It is extremely funny most of the time but today, it was extremely frustrating.  I couldn't figure out what in the world was wrong.

My oldest, meanwhile, began to feel ignored.  Thankfully he didn't act out at all.  He just wrapped himself around my leg like it was a fire pole while I held the baby saying, "Mommy, I really miss you.  I need some special time with you."  What could I say to that?

My normal response is a rush of tenderness but today I felt as if I had nothing left to give.  I did my best to put my needs aside for the moment and kissed them both. I proposed some bonus TV time with chocolate milk so that we could all snuggle together.

After about 15 minutes of quiet, I looked down at their soft and messy heads of hair.  I felt my little one clutching my finger.  I noticed my oldest's face lighting up as he watched his PBS show and all at once, the gratitude rushed back into my heart.

They do need a lot from me right now.  But I also get so much from them.   Maybe they are clingy sometimes.  I wonder if I counted the amount of hugs I get on those days, would it somehow feel like the real gift that it is?  We must be patient with ourselves as we navigate this difficult road.  We aren't always going to feel like they are perfect.  We certainly aren't, so how can they live up to such a standard?  We, as caregivers, must always make enough time to take care of ourselves and listen to what our bodies and hearts are saying we need.  But sometimes, amongst all the craziness, take time the let the gratitude rush back in.

How do you help yourself through the days when the needs become overwhelming?  What moments make you feel most grateful for the children in your life?

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