yesterday's gratitude

We've been keeping our family gratitude journal for over two years now. Our routine has stayed pretty much the same since I wrote about it a month after we started, with the only difference being that I'm back to writing down the daily thankfulness myself.

Remy gets (very) sick of it sometimes, this daily coming up with something to be grateful for. Last year, after Thanksgiving, he tried to convince me that since there was an entire holiday centered on being thankful, that we didn't need to do a daily gratitude journal. Nuh uh. That does not fly. I am deeply committed to gratitude as a life practice, and so we are all gonna practice finding something, even on the worst days, to be thankful for.

We can always find one thing. Always.


And here's why Remy's getting sick of one of my favorite practices doesn't bother me: if he never got sick of having to come up with a daily gratitude, I wouldn't get the chance to tell him about why we are actively practicing gratitude every day, instead of just once a year. This occasional reluctance is a teaching moment.

If he hated it so much it was causing actual distress that would be a different thing altogether. I mention that because even though I think having a gratitude practice is awesome, not all practices work for everyone. If he's having a night where coming up with a gratitude is making him feel worse than he already feels, it doesn't work to make it a fight. I'm human, so sometimes it does get more fraught than my goal, but overall, we're not making it into a fight, it's just part of the routine of what our family does.

We're still using the same notebook Remy picked out, two and a half years ago. We're in the last section now. Writing three (or more, depending on who's staying with us) abbreviated sentences a day adds up.

Funny things happen when you ask a kid what they're grateful for. Most of the time, it's fairly predictable: he's grateful for the toys or games he's the most obsessed with. Sometimes, he surprises us with a memory from school. Other times, it's a thankfulness for something we did together. Those are often shared gratitudes.

Last night, we were all grateful for Remy's half day of school. Remy and I had a chillax afternoon together, snuggling on the couch and reading (and walking back up to school to vote later in the afternoon, which made us both happy).

I pointed out to Remy that M was happy for Remy having a half day even though he himself had not had a half day of work. Altruism, for the win! Remy agreed that that was nice and then somehow segued into saying something about how nice it must have been for me not to have to work. (He meant that he didn't think I'd worked in my office that day, writing.)

M and I looked at each other and chuckled.

A half day of school is work for moms, we explained. Work that's fun, yes, but still definitely work.

(It's also work for teachers, who had a professional development day after the kids left.)

And then I further clarified that I had, in fact written a little that day, after he had gotten home. Not a lot, but enough. Editing the photos - cropping them and adding my watermark - took longer than writing, and I did a lot of that while he was in class. I left my computer on and finished while Remy was reading.

And he hadn't really noticed that I was writing because he was reading. And then when I was done, which wasn't long at all, I turned off the computer and joined him in reading on the couch (with a big bowl of popcorn to share), and it was the rest of the day that stayed with him.

Just because it's work doesn't mean it isn't fun.

Just because it's chillax doesn't mean it isn't work.

Just because it isn't always intense doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile.

And all of those things in the converse/reverse/however-verse, too. Life is gloriously diverse! If your kid goes to aftercare on half days that's awesome, too. If you're homeschooling and spend all your afternoons this way, that's awesome, too. If none of this is your thing, because you'd rather be out doing stuff, then that's awesome, too. DO YOUR THING, LIVE YOUR LIFE.

Yesterday may not seem like much - a mundane afternoon spent snuggling, reading, walking and playing wii, with lots of Lego and drawing thrown in, and some homework issues for good measure - but that doesn't mean it isn't worth being grateful for: it's our life, as it is.