I awkwardly crawl into the small bit of open space in her tiny twin bed that’s not overrun by stuffed animals, as I do every night. But tonight, with little wiggle room left I let out a animalistic grunt before plopping down beside her.
Her big blue eyes twinkle as she looks my way and lets out a belly laugh so large it doesn’t stop for at least 30 seconds.
She stops and I grunt again.
I know in my reasonable parenting mind that I should be winding her down for our bedtime routine. We are both exhausted after a full day of toddler living. I start thinking about the tubs of playdoh strew across kitchen table that need to be put away, the used stickers that look like a cookie crumb trail running in circles on our main floor, and the midday tantrum that turned my sweet little girl into a raging psychotic straight out of a horror film.
But right now there’s that laugh. Oh her laugh. Toddler giggles are hard resist.
So we laugh together for the next 5 minutes.
The days are long, but the years are short is what the parenting experts (aka my older and wiser mommy friends) tell me.
And in this moment, I embrace the sentiment.
I am grateful.
Which is a hard emotion to stand by on these days of playdoh messes, sticker trails, and psychotic tantrums.
But I try. As we’re laughing I realize how grateful I am for her belly laughs, the 6 cups of coffee that kept me awake all day, the mommy friends I call when adult conversation is a post tantrum necessity, and the joy I receive from simply being her mom.
After we’ve laughed so hard our bellies hurt, I wonder if she’s feeling grateful in this moment too.
So I ask, “What made you happy today, my love?”
And without skipping a beat she shares, “Playing with playdoh and stickers and mommy.”
My heart melts.
As I tuck her into bed, blow her kisses and say a final, “Goodnight” I run downstairs to photograph the parts of our day I see as messy, but make her feel loved.
This memory is at the forefront of my thoughts as we round the corner from October into the mad dash of the ‘holiday season’. Where it becomes too hectic to stop and embrace small moments of gratitude as we race between shopping excursions, parties, family gatherings, and all the day to day stuff in-between.
But isn’t this also the time of year where being present, mindful, and grateful becomes the most important?
This week at CWK Alissa and I want issue a challenge. A gratitude photo challenge. We want you to invite in the opportunity to embrace gratitude in your parenting.
This challenge does not require a fancy camera, or a lot of time and effort. It simply requires a conversation between you and your child. A chance for you to find a break in your day to connect and capture a moment in the process.
Here’s what we’d like you to do:
1) Find a moment of calm and quiet in your day.
2) Grab a piece of paper, talk with your kids about the idea of gratitude, and make a list of 3-5 things you each are grateful for. With younger ones, gratitude might be a BIG word, so simply asking them what makes them happy will work too.
3) Take photos of those things together. Your gratitude list and theirs.
4) Post one of your photos in the photo gallery by unploading it in the comments.
As an extra layer of encouragement, for those who share their results, we’re hosting a contest where one CWK gratitude photo participant will receive:
- The Ebook: Conversation Starters: Listening Now So Kids Will Keep Talking Later
Written by Alissa Marquess and CWK contributor Lorien Van NessIf building trust and openness into your relationship is a high priority in your parenting, then you’ll really want to practice the skills presented in Conversation Starters. This little book packs a lot of information about overcoming difficulties in conversations with your children, and will be one you may want to return many times as you try out the conversation starters we include.
- A 30 minute photo coaching consult with Beryl. No matter what camera you own, Beryl has tips and tricks up her sleeve that will have you enthusiastic and excited to take better photos. During this one on one call Beryl will offer suggestions for your top photo frustrations and give you some new techniques for taking beautiful photos of your family and life.
The ‘Gratitude Photo Challenge’ will be open until November 12th and a winner will be announced and contacted by email on November 13th.
Now go get to connecting, get to photographing, get to sharing in the comments here, and good luck!
About the Author
Alissa is a resilience coach, cartoonist, and advocate for ‘connection, not perfection’. She’s dedicated to helping others find a sense of safety and belonging inside themselves so they can heal, connect, and build authentic, joyful lives.