where wildly different is perfectly normal
Teach me to be grateful
Teach me to be grateful

Teach me to be grateful

When I chose grateful for my 2012 word of the year, I did so with great intention. I’ve come to believe in the last year or so that I’m destined to repeat life lessons until I finally get them. I struggle with stress management; life gives me lots of opportunities to work on that. Practice makes better, you know. So I chose grateful as a reminder, hoping to stay ahead of that life lesson. Riiiight…

I practiced being grateful for the opportunity to shovel snow on Friday. It was a stretch, to say the least, but I’m hopeful my effort keeps another snowdump away until next year. We did get a homeschool math lesson out of it, though. How much snow did mom shovel? 2080 sq ft asphalt driveway (larger than the house…sigh…) X 6 inches deep X three hours X how much snow weighs + husband out of town = no wonder mom had coffee in her Bailey’s when she came back in.

Just how grateful do I have to be? I know how that sounds, trust me. Can I curl on the ground for a full day and pray and meditate and keen and wail and the universe know how grateful I am for all I have in my life? Will that keep the crazy away?

I’d like bad things to quit happening to us, my friends, and my family. I’d like the economy to quit peeing in our Cheerios for the first time in four years; I can’t afford to lose more sleep over that. I’d like my house to quit flashing us new concerns every single week. I’d like to be able to relax, truly relax, and know that things are ok. You know, for a change.

There are bad things in this world, I get it. Today there was yet another school shooting, and I am grateful past the ability to speak that it was not J’s school, that it was not as bad as it could have been, that it was (selfishly) not my family. But life has been so relentless here in the House of Chaos for so long that we need a break. In the grand scheme of the world we have so much; in the day to day we’re struggling. And I’m wearing down.

Please. Teach me to be grateful.


  1. Hang in there. We have had very rough patches as a family. Stress, money, recession, people getting sick, loved ones dying, on and on.

    I just tell myself that it has to get better when it seems really bad because how much worse can it get?

    I look so hard for things to be grateful for to try to negate the negative things, to try to see the good outweighs the bad.

    And I pray, call friends, and talk to people.

    No other advice to give…

  2. Some parts of your life suck, but feeling guilty for the good things, or for whining about the bad ones, is NOT the same thing as being grateful that things are either as good as they are, or just not worse. Strip the guilt out of the whole darned thing, and celebrate the good things when they come along, like that Meetup the other day.

    You aren’t a martyr; feeling grateful is a mood, like any other. Sure, you can cultivate it when you find yourself in it, but really hon, don’t get down on yourself for not being happy. Kind of counterproductive.

  3. trish

    I think gratefulness comes in small packages and accumulates. I couldn’t possibly feel nothing but grateful for an entire day/week/year, but I can find at least a tiny thing to be grateful about each day. During a really rough patch in my life, it was cinnamon toast and cute squirrels that got me through — those were the only little bright spots I could find, and that seemed super pathetic, but I just enjoyed the hell out of the toast and smiled at the squirrels and hoped I could build something better with such meager materials. And slowly I noticed and found more to be grateful for.

  4. “I practiced being grateful for the opportunity to shovel snow on Friday.” – LMAO!

    From the sounds of it, my guess is that you don’t need to work on being grateful; you just need a break. Life in chaos can just keep coming from all directions. I’m hoping for a reprieve for you.

  5. Sherri

    You sound very grateful for the baileys and coffee, Jen. That’s enough grateful for one day. I hate to say this, but I don’t being super grateful means bad things stop happening. But it can help your perspective as you swim through them.

    1. Jen

      The Bailey’s and coffee was a godsend. 😉
      I guess I just want to believe that if I’m grateful for all the good in my life and keep my head down, then the crappy stuff will just.stop.happening. Doesn’t seem to be working. :/

  6. Deborah

    Something I needed to hear today for sure!! My 10 year old (almost 11 year old) daughter is struggling so much with her emotions. Just when I thought we were turning a corner puberty kicked in and now her meltdowns have increased ten-fold. This afternoon she told me that she thinks she is depressed, and I feel completely overwhelmed and guilty. Guilty that one of the first thoughts that crossed my mind was, ‘Why is everything so hard with this child?’ But after reading your blog I realize that sometimes you have to search deep to find something to be grateful about, and if you look hard enough you’ll find it. Today I am grateful that she was able to share her feelings with me and I am grateful that my husband has a good job with great insurance (after being unemployed for 8 months) so that I can get her the help she needs. Somedays I feel like my husband and I share our home with a 10 year old going on 40 and then on days like today I realize just how fragile she really is. One day at a time!

    1. Jen

      I am so not looking to puberty, things are insane enough thankyouverymuch. And there is no need feel guilty for that thought; those exact words have gone through my mind more times than I can count.

  7. cocobean

    Just take the list of everything that is piling on top of your shoulders now and add “while dealing with the school and the IEP” and I imagine you’ll find some grateful 😉

Whaddya think?

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