Originally published in the November 2017 Glover Park Gazette.

Gratefulness as a parenting tool is often, often overlooked. We minimize gratefulness and its quiet power. We NEED it when the days get short and the holidays are pressing upon this. Gratitude gives us comfort and courage.

Let’s take the time to be grateful for the teeny, tiny itty bitty miracles that children bring us. When they go to sleep. When they master reading. When they learn how to walk. When you buy the last bag of diapers. When the double stroller breaks and kids need to get out and walk (I will NEVER forget that day, 16 years ago, joy, joy and more JOY!). When someone miraculously hangs up a towel. When you hear them thank your friend for the chicken nuggets at the potluck.

We can be grateful for the contrast. Who knew that going out with ADULTS ONLY was so incredibly amazing? Who thought that sleeping until 8am could be a luxury? Anyone else feel like they lost 17 lbs JUST by traveling on an airplane with NO children? I never knew how beautiful and restorative simply being alone could be.

Honestly, I think one very overlooked gift children bring us is living directly in THIS moment. Kids give us no choice but to be in the here and now. Their mercurial moods keep us wide awake and responding to life as it is. When we are responsible for another human our self-obsession tends to diminish, what a relief!

Our kids give us the gift of learning, re-learning, and learning one more time that we are not in control of the universe. All our worrying, our obsessive planning our crazy Googling, none of that can control completely how our lives, or their lives, unfold.

Finally, our kids give us the gift of so much love. Love we didn’t even know was in our hearts. Anne Lamott sums it up well, “I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”