“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick
I’m just going to admit what I’m not supposed to admit: I’ve been dreading my son’s upcoming summer break from school.
It’s simply more work to take care of two children than one, and simple tasks, like grocery shopping, get much more complicated when you add a child to the equation.
As a stay-at-home mom, I have my routine down to a science. This routine includes a daily almost three-hour window when my daughter naps, my son is at school, and I am able to have a lunch break and write.
I’m not ashamed to admit that this window of time to myself is like an oasis in the desert. Now, I’m looking ahead to a summer of putting my son on the iPad during my daughter’s nap if I want any me time, and that creates mommy guilt.
(Side note: why, as moms, do we ever feel guilty about needing some alone time? Just because I’m a stay-at-home mom, does that mean that I should have the kids by my side every waking moment of the day? Me thinks not.
There has to be balance between what is going to keep mommy sane, and what is best for the child. Isn’t a sane mommy best for the child? iPad time it is.)
I’ve also felt overwhelmed with the pressure to keep my 5-year-old entertained during summer break since he is now accustomed to the daily stimulation of school.
He already asks me every time I pick him up from school, “Are we doing anything fun today?” I have visions of this question coming up a lot this summer.
I realized that this angst I’m feeling over the upcoming summer is the wrong way to look at things when I came across this article: Dear child: Let’s make this the summer of ‘yes’ – not ‘maybe later’ by Rachel Macy Stafford (she writes an incredible blog at Hands Free Mama).
Here I am complaining to myself about the burden of additional work over the summer, and I’m missing the point that I have this precious quality time to spend with both of my kids.
The article lists the top ten things kids want parents to do with them, taken from a teacher that polled her students for 16 years. They are all small, simple things, like playing outside and cuddling under a blanket while watching television.
What our kids really want is us, fully present in the moment with them. It’s the little things that matter.
This article relieved the pressure I was putting on myself to fill up our summer calendar.
It’s equally important that we have more games of hide-and-seek along with our trips to the zoo. It’s equally important that we have bug expeditions along with the swim lessons. It’s equally important to have some lazy days at home baking in our pajamas along with scheduled playdates with friends.
I’m still a realist, though. There will surely be days this summer when boredom sets in, when the inevitable whining starts, and when the meltdowns melt me down.
I know myself, and I need a plan to hold myself accountable and keep me focused on the things that really matter.
I believe the answer is gratitude.
Here is what I know about gratitude:
It can turn ordinary moments into extraordinary moments.
It makes you notice that sometimes the little things are actually big things.
It brings you to the present moment.
It grows. The more you practice gratitude, the more you have it.
I’m going to challenge myself to notice one new thing that I am grateful for each day this summer, and I’m going to share my #summerofgratitude on Instagram (here) and on Twitter (here). I’d love for you to join me and share your moments of gratitude this summer.
I’m also going to share my moments of gratitude with my son, because it’s not too early to teach him to be thankful for the #littlebigthings in life.
This challenge is nothing new. It’s a never-ending challenge in life to love fully and remain fully present in the moment. Have you ever noticed that you can’t have one without the other?
It’s impossible to fully experience love without feeling wrapped up in the present moment, and it’s impossible to remain fully present in the moment without love and gratitude coming to the surface.
My son’s last day of school is this Wednesday. Deep breath. Bring it on summer!