Dear Mountain Mama,
During this season where the buzz is all about the attitude of gratitude, I am struggling. My kids have been cooped up in the house by the early arrival of darkness and the frigid temperatures. I am surrounded by whining voices demanding new toys, computer games, and ski trips.
Any tips for an appreciation make-over for my kids?
Can’t Handle the Whining
Dear Can’t Handle the Whining,
Gratitude can be difficult to come by in the never-enough culture in which we reside. This time of year we’re bombarded with gift-lists and new products, cleverly advertised to make us think we “need” them.
As a parent, I can relate to feeling overwhelmed. But that doesn’t mean I let myself off the hook for cultivating an example of gratitude for my son.
Most mornings I woke to his cries way before the sun has graced the day. As I rubbed my eyes, I’d think, “I didn’t get enough sleep.” All morning long I glanced at the clock and thought, “We don’t have enough time.” As I packed our lunches, there was always something I forgot to pick up at the store and I thought, “We don’t have enough food.” A never-ending to-do list would loop through my head as I thought, “I didn’t get enough accomplished.”
My two-year old son started constantly asking for more of everything. He said, “Mama, more, more, please” (which actually sounds like, “mama, moo, moo peas”). His constantly asking for more almost sent me over the edge, until I realized he was only reflecting my own attitudes about deprivation and never having enough.
The realty is even as a single working mama, we have enough of all the important stuff – we have enough love, enough wonderful people, enough time outdoors, and enough food. We are blessed with a warm house with enough toys and art supplies and instruments to keep ourselves amused all winter long. We are fortunate to live in a wonderful, supportive community.
I made a commitment to change my viewpoint from scarcity to abundance, a promise I have to renew several times a day. Now when I wake up, I hold my son in my arms and we look out the window. We look for the sunrise and talk about the clouds. He claps his hands as he shouts, “Sun!” as it appears over the horizon.
Starting the day like that sets the tone for appreciation. When we are stuck in traffic, we talk about the golden leaves swirling in the breeze. When we walk at night, we look for the moon and when we find her, we greet her as if she was a long lost friend.
I still get stressed out and thoughts of not having or being enough return. The other day the car wouldn’t start. A bag of groceries fell, and I watched as my big splurge, a pint of blueberries, rolled across the parking lot. I cursed as I thought about not being able to run the other errands on my to-do list. My son tugged at my leg and pointed up toward the sky, “Mama, cloud.”
I looked up at the Carolina blue sky at white, fluffy clouds. Simply taking a couple minutes to marvel at the world with my son transformed the moment and averted a mama meltdown.
Instead of stressed to the max, I felt lucky to have a son who connects with the natural world. We set about the task of gathering the groceries. A nice guy jump started my car. It’s amazing how exuding an attitude of gratitude sends out a message to the universe that we are willing to receive her gifts.
Can’t Handle the Whining, next time your kids are driving you crazy, distract them with nature. Show them the sky. Give them a rock. Dance in the rain. Over time, your kids will return the favor and remind you to appreciate just how luck we are to live in this amazing world.
This November, remember to marvel!
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