By JENNIFER STEUER
So many feel that being grateful is something to be vocal about this month, just check Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Being grateful seems to be the thing in November. The mindset of Thanksgiving seems to unite communities across so many lines. Teaching kids to be grateful is one of those skills that sounds like it should be easy. It sounds like something that goes right along with teaching kids to say please and thank you. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. Finding something to be grateful about can be tough when you look at what is going in the world and locally, but there are reasons to be grateful. There are ways that we can even spin things a little or look deeper for the good.
I believe that even in the hardest of days there is something that can be positive. When my brother died six years ago this November I was devastated, but I had to find a reason to be grateful. I was lucky to have Jared in my life for as long as I did. Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca got to know Jared and began understanding that a wheelchair is nothing to be afraid of. Part of being a mom is to teach my kids that our love for and from Jared is what we can be grateful for when we get sad about him not being here. The goal of being grateful isn’t to forget the challenging parts of life; it’s to help get through the difficulties we all face.
My relationship with each of my kids is different. Sometimes it feels like each child has the best of their dad and the worst of me. Harlan tends to argue that they got the best of me and the worst of him. I am grateful for the different relationships I have.
Benjamin and I have a relationship that makes me think of him like a cat. When he wants to be left alone, he’s fine. When he wants to be fed, he tells me. My attempts at giving him affection are met with a rebuff. When Ben wants a physical interaction, he will come up to me very closely and bump me. Or just stand so close I can feel him breathe. His boundaries are respected. I am grateful that he feels like he can come to me on his terms for affection. I’m grateful to have this amazing young man who is kind, empathetic, gentle and has a sense of humor that just doesn’t quit.
My relationship with Rebecca revolves around reading, watching PBS shows (I solemnly swear she is the one to record the episodes of NOVA to watch together) and our sarcastic natures. We are two peas in a pod. Rebecca is quick with hugs and smiles for the family, but can be shy around other folks. I am a very lucky mom to have a daughter who loves academics. She will research topics based off the trivia facts on the lids of Snapple bottles and will still hold my hand when we are out. I’m grateful for my daughter who is a mini-me and who is willing to listen to my jokes before she tells me how bad they are.
Olivia. She keeps me grounded and forces me to see things from a perspective that I never could have before. This girl is a warrior. Olivia is a loyal and true friend. She is also my mini-me. I don’t know if there really is an answer as to how both of my daughters are so different but so much like me. I love to sing and be silly with her. She is a fantastic teacher and cook. She loves to learn new things. Olivia has bested a ropes course, tried to get out of an escape room, climbed a few rock walls, been scuba diving and learned how to walk on stilts! I am grateful for her “can do” attitude and desire to do things out of her comfort zone. I am grateful that Olivia sees beauty wherever she goes and shares her excitement with me.
Personally, I have so much to be grateful for and so many people in my life who lift me up and help me through the tough times. Being grateful for my friends and family is easy, but I sometimes forget to tell them. When the calendar passes Thanksgiving and continues to roll through the New Year I will keep letting my family and my friends how much they mean to me and how grateful I am to have them in my life.