Monday, November 14, 2011

Finding Gratitude in Unlikely Places

I am grateful for hair-pulling, biting, pushing, shoving, screaming and crying.  Ok, not so much those behaviors, per se, but what they represent.

I was talking with a mother of two young children this morning who says she struggles with helping her children play together successfully.  Her 6 year-old likes to make elaborate lego projects that her 2 year-old brother likes to take down Godzilla-style.  She has tried convincing her daughter to build these projects in her room.  She has tried redirecting her son toward different toys.  Neither of these strategies has worked.

They want to be together, which is nice, I told her.  It's what I tell myself when my own daughters have the same fight...over and over again.  They could play in separate rooms or with separate toys,  goodness knows we have more than enough to go around.  But the separation wouldn't meet their needs for togetherness, which is a strong need, indeed.  And sometimes they play together successfully.  I just tend not to notice, since no one is screaming, "Mom, help!" at those moments. So I try to remind myself of the lovely part of their siblinghood when I extract one from the other, teeth bared and tears flowing.

I've learned a lot from clients who've consulted with me over the years about finding gratitude in unlikely places.  They've found it in seeing they have choices, even when those choices aren't the  greatest.  In finding calm in an otherwise anxiety-provoking time while washing dishes or pulling weeds.  In having a major life crisis hold a mirror up to their life and finding they don't like what they see and using their resources to change it.

There is much to be grateful for, even in trying times.  Sometimes we have to look beyond the initial ugliness to find the beauty at its core.