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A reminder to be thankful for the little things

By Staff | Nov 20, 2009

What mother doesn’t look around the Thanksgiving table and count her blessings?

If nothing else, she marvels at the clean faces and actual use of utensils.

I know that even as my oldest turns three years old this month, I still consider myself a rookie at this motherhood thing. And as I get stressed out by lack of sleep, a disastrously messy house and mountains of laundry, I tend to forget to remind myself how thankful I am for every minute of it.

I’m so busy just trying to survive that I fail to remember that I reap as much from these amazing little people as I hope they do from me.

So here’s why this Thanksgiving, this mom is giving…

Thanks for the never-ending mess. Kids are said to be the quickest cure for perfection. With a toddler nothing stays in it’s place for very long. Our one-year-old moves from place to place in the house making messes. He goes to the cupboard with the pots and pans and takes those out, from there he’s off to the sock drawer to clean that out, then he makes his way to his sister’s bookshelf to rearrange things. I’ve learned to live with a floor perpetually encrusted with crumbs, and have surrendered my living room to the Toys-R-Us invasion.

Thanks for taking 10 minutes to put on shoes. Watching a child who insists on doing it herself can be truly maddening when you’re late for work and you can count the hundred and one things you have waiting for you when you eventually get there. If you’ve ever watched a child methodically eat her Froot Loops one at a time, you’ve been there. I’m so permanently set on rush mode, that it can seem like an eternity, when in fact those extra 10 minutes really don’t mean much in the long run. It’s good to be reminded to stop and smell the Froot Loops.

Thanks for the 4 a.m. wake up calls. It’s exhausting and downright frustrating to lose precious sleep. But then again, it’s awfully nice to be needed. The comfort and warmth resulting from snuggling a sick or hungry baby goes both ways.

Thanks for the meandering strolls. With my daughter there is no such thing as a direct route. Whether it’s wandering up and down the aisles at the grocery store or a slow lazy walk to the neighborhood park, she’s eager to soak it all in. She’s easily distracted by the littlest thing. But then again, it’s those moments when you’re not looking that you truly see the best things.

Thanks for the questions – even the hard ones. Children have a way of keeping your mind sharp. I’ve become pretty quick at coming up with stall-for-time excuses and clever cover-ups. What mother hasn’t had to call upon her high school science class to explain why the grass is green or the sky is blue? Who hasn’t resorted to lying about how many cupcakes are left or where the last of the Halloween candy has disappeared to?

Thanks for the cluttered refrigerator door. Before we had kids all our refrigerator had on it was a few magnets and the occasional grocery list. Now it’s covered with photos and drawings and even a few stray crayon marks. Now I proudly display our budding artists’ creations. If I knew where to reach Mr. Clean, I’d send him a thank you note for the Magic Eraser, because it takes care of those crayon marks in no time.

Thanks for requesting cake for breakfast. Who decided that you can’t have cake for breakfast? What difference does it make if you have a cupcake now or after lunch? It reminds me that life is too short to follow all the rules. My kids see me over-thinking, over-analyzing, and over-stressing about so many things. Allowing my daughter to have a cupcake for breakfast every once in a while helps me realize that sometimes I take life way too seriously now that I’m an adult.

Most of all thanks for forgiveness. When I get to the end of my rope and I yell at the kids for no good reason, they might be upset, but they always give me another chance.

After all, one of the greatest gifts that children give is unconditional love. That includes forgiving their parents when they mess up. Being a mom is hard, but what’s the point if you don’t let your little ones teach you a few lessons along the way and stop and enjoy life a little?

So now when I’m stressed to the max and think I can’t take one more whining child’s request, I need to consult this list of the things that I am thankful for. I’d better stick it to the refrigerator door, right next to Abby’s latest masterpiece, just as a reminder.

Mullally is a Tribune writer.

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