I should add here that although I rarely make a written list of gratitude, I do try to reflect at least once a day on what I'm grateful for. My cousin writes a daily list and e-mails it to several of her friends, and I generally am obsessive about checking my e-mail until she sends it. Partially because it is a way for me to stay connected to her even when both of our lives are very busy, but also because it is a good reminder of the small things in life that help people get past bad days, tragic life happenings, and grumpy moods. As soon as I read it, I think about what I am grateful for, and because she sends it early in the morning, I can start my day feeling grateful and remember to be this way during the day.
For instance, when Little Miss Grumpy Pants will not sleep through her whole nap and I am stuck holding her while I'm trying to work one handed? I take a deep breath and look at her soft features, her slow and peaceful breathing, her pudgy little arms, and realize that I will miss this cuddling some day. What else am I grateful for?
- My daughter is healthy and happy. I really take this for granted until she catches a cold or flu, or until I think of the many people I know that struggle with infertility or have had children that have passed away. She drives me a little nuts some days, but she is a blessing and we are so, so fortunate that she is well.
- I have awesome parents. They do an immense amount for us, from providing Amelia with clothes, diapers, and toys, to babysitting and listening to me gripe when I feel like I being pushed over the edge by motherhood. They are terrific, loving grandparents and let me know often that they are here for me anytime.
- I have a wonderful marriage. It is not always easy, and we go through our up's and down's like any other couple. I have really been reflecting lately how good of a husband and father my spouse is. He is kind and makes me feel like the most beautiful woman alive. He appreciates my cooking and ability to do 50 things at once to keep our home up and raise our child. He apologizes when he's wrong, and he tells me I'm a good mom frequently. Watching him cuddle or tickle Amelia melts my heart and I'm so grateful that we are raising our daughter together.
- The rest of my family is awesome too! It would take me all day to go through each and every one, but trust me, I'm blessed with a great family. When people complain that they have to deal with family gatherings during the holidays, I have no idea what they are talking about. I look forward to stuffing myself and then laughing around the table after a good meal.
- Employment. I think this is a huge thing that I took for granted a year ago, and I really try to be thankful for it every day. Luckily, so far my job is making this easy. I had a few qualms about working for an online school, but it's only taken me a couple months to be amazed at the teamwork and positive attitudes that I witness every day.
- Wonderful pets. I know, some people are not into animals, that's fine. But we are, and we pretty much have the best ever. As our daughter has been edging on abusive towards Mikey (our 8 year old 13 pound cat) and Molly (our sweet, obedient 3 year old golden retriever), I'm reminded every day that we are lucky to have them. I don't have to worry about Amelia being hurt by one of them, and she is growing up knowing how to be kind to animals.
- All the other standards to be thankful for: a warm house, food on the table, clean water, a safe area to live, transportation. I list it off like it's nothing, but all it takes is turning on the news to be extremely grateful for any of these things.