When I started this post, I thought for sure I could come up with 100 things to be grateful for, but, when sitting down to type them out, I could only get 12. They were the basics: family, friends, health, etc. The more I thought about this task, the more I thought it's completely bullshit. The thing is, I CAN think of 100 things I'm grateful for. In fact, I'm pretty sure I can come with a minimum of 20 a day. It's the little stuff, but that's not the stuff people want to hear about. People want to hear about how fantastic life is and how grateful you are for each moment. Well, let me tell you, some moments suck. Monday, I was grateful that the kid who is a jerk to my son is not in his class, even though he's in his grade and in Robotics and Chess Clubs with him. Know what made me grateful for that? The little jerk ripped the hood off my son's coat and threw it down the hallway. Monday, I was also grateful that my daughter has a WAY better first grade teacher than my son did because she's actually being taught on her level. What made me grateful for that was her being on the same DRA level that her brother was in first grade, yet no one stopped and taught him how to write a good retell to advance any higher. In fact, my son, who is gifted in reading, was reading on a 10th grade instructional level in second grade, has only advanced 4 levels on the DRA since first grade due to the writing portion of it. There's just something wrong with that. Sunshine's teacher took me aside and actually told me that she is going to work with Sunshine on how to write a retell to help her continue progressing through the DRA levels. So, for that, the fact that she has a teacher who cares to actually teach, I am thankful. Monday I was also thankful for about 100 other things, even though my car died, I was late getting home which made it so I couldn't make the dinner I had planned and I had to run to Subway and feed the kids junk for dinner and everyone went to bed later than I wanted. Yesterday, well, I was thankful for coffee. I'm not saying that was it, but that was pretty much the highlight. Not that yesterday was a bad day, it was just hard. When trying to think of 100 things that I'm grateful for, I would be able to do it, but it would take me remembering to write things down each moment they happen, which is not feasible. Today, for example, I'm grateful I live so close to the school because Monster forgot something. As I was walking home, I even quickly said to myself how grateful I am for this. Yet, had I not been in the middle of writing this, I may not have remembered.
Being grateful for what you have is not about lists. It's not about remembering all the things you're grateful for every second of every day. It's about remembering to actually BE grateful, not just say you are. I could write so many things on a gratitude list, but it would mean nothing if I forgot to be grateful in the moment. I can say I am grateful for my family, which, I am, but there are times I don't feel grateful for them. Know what? That doesn't make me any less grateful and it doesn't make me a bad person. It just means I'm human. As humans we can not be grateful for everything we have every second of the day, and if someone says they are, they are lying. There are moments I'm not grateful for one single thing. There are moments when everything is all bad. But that's what they are...moments. Why? Because in my heart, I know how blessed I am and I have nothing to prove to anyone else. I'm allowed to complain about things. It drives me nuts when you complain about something and people tell you that you should just suck it up and be grateful. When my kids are acting up and I discipline them, it doesn't mean I'm not grateful for them. It means they are acting up and I'm disciplining them because I am not thankful for their bad behavior. Yes, it is that simple.
With all the talk about gratitude, people forget to talk about grace. You must give others and yourself grace. There is a difference between being negative and ungrateful all the time and not feeling grateful some of the time. The thing is, so many people do not give others grace for those moments of feeling bad. I admit, sometimes, I don't give myself grace for moments I'm feeling ungrateful. When I'm in pain, I think, I shouldn't be complaining because so many people have it worse. The fact of the matter is that I'm still in pain, even when thinking that. It does me no good. It doesn't even make it a little better. When I give myself grace for feeling bad, I do feel better. I know that I appreciate the times I'm not in pain, so I'm OK with feeling sorry for myself about my pain every once in a while. Bad days happen. Feeling frustrated and run down is normal. People need to stop putting others down because of it. Maybe the focus for next year should be a shift from gratitude to grace. I'm not saying not to be grateful. I'm saying give yourself and others grace when they are not.