Thankful for the Thankful Thing

Last night my beautiful girls reminded me that we haven’t done The Thankful Thing of late. They’re right, we haven’t. I know it is a tremendously positive thing and a great idea, but I was hot, tired and grumpy, and I really wasn’t in the mood. Nonetheless they badgered me into it, and we filled a page with the things we are thankful for. “The Smokehouse.” “Surf beaches.” “Riding.” “Neil Finn & Paul Kelly,” and a list of names that just kept growing and growing – old friends and new, supportive, loving and encouraging. The page was overflowing, and still we were talking about all the things that have been making us happy recently.

By the end of it I was still hot and tired, but I was smiling and thinking of hugs and support when I needed them, walks by the beach with old friends, and an unexpected and delightful meeting of minds. Oh, and Smokehouse chocolate mousse.

Usually it’s me badgering my kids to be positive, and to remind themselves of the brighter side of life. I have been beating my head against the wall of my oldest child’s anxiety of late, feeling as though I was constantly trying and failing to teach her how to calm herself. In truth my anxiety over her anxiety has probably been more of an issue than her actual stress. Sometimes it’s impossible to get her to see the upside. Yet tonight she and her sister took me by the hand and dragged me out of my funk.

People like Miss 9 and I are easily overwhelmed by the things we can’t fix.  We see rubbish washed into the bay and making the seals and dolphins sick and injured, and we want to fix it. We see people pumping carbon out into the atmosphere and it makes us frantic with the need to stop it. We believe with all our hearts in justice, and naively think that everyone would do the right thing if only they understood. Sometimes it’s hard to restrain ourselves from grabbing others by the throat and making them understand what is so obvious to us, and what we are so passionate about.

There’s a fraction too much friction
There’s a fraction too much friction
Don’t believe in opposing factions,
What we need is some positive action
There’s a fraction too much friction

This does not make us easy company. We tend to take things too seriously and get despondent easily. We flare up over small things because the big things are eating us alive. Fortunately I am passionate about my children, and because I know what it’s like to be this way, more than anything I want to give them strategies to help them cope.

I didn’t think I was succeeding at that – the house has been a mess of meltdowns and overheated tempers, and Melbourne’s recent heatwave has not helped there. And yet last night my girls showed me the upside. Of their own accord they turned to The Thankful Thing and counted their blessings – and mine, when I was in no state to count them myself. Perhaps the best thing they taught me is that sometimes you need someone to count your blessings for you, to help you find that silver lining. And that sometimes lessons sink in when we least expect it. That’s a lot to be thankful for.

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