Posted in Children

Change of Plans: Children and Gratitude

I had it all worked out in my mind exactly how things would go…I could just see Katie’s smile.

Once we cleaned up the Thanksgiving dishes, we would move her room around a bit and set up a 3-foot Christmas tree.

We would place the tree skirt around the base and hold the ornaments out to her to choose where to place them.

As I pushed my shopping cart through the aisles of Target, loaded with her new tree, ornaments, and tree skirt, I could imagine her delight at falling asleep looking at the lights and dreaming of all of the magic that Christmas holds.

As I paid the cashier, the only thing that pulled me from my thoughts were these words…

“Mommy, you didn’t buy me anything exciting. I want a new toy.”

And in that moment, I actually considered canceling my transaction and bringing her home empty handed.

But, I was certain that once we got out of the store, she’d be grateful for all that I did buy her.

I was wrong.

Her ingratitude continued the entire way home, as she alternated between pouting and complaining.

Katie has always been the most grateful child and lately, we’ve seen a change in her.

I’ll be the first to admit that Craig and I have a pretty long list of what we expect from her and gratitude is pretty high up on the list.

As much as I was disappointed that we wouldn’t be putting her tree up right away, I know that we have to make her earn it. I know that it’s our responsibility to ensure that she grows into the kind of adult who we would want to know.

So, I gathered her up her ornaments and grabbed a bowl and a jar.

After dumping all of the ornaments into the bowl, I explained to her how things would work…

For each act of kindness or expression of gratitude, she earns an ornament.

Each time she is unkind or ungrateful, we remove one.

Once her jar is full, we will put up her tree.

We’re hoping to have it up by Christmas.

How do you teach gratitude at your house?

Have you ever had to use a similar method?

Who knew parenting would be so difficult? ;)

I’ll Never Ask

I was sick a couple of weekends ago. I spent forty-eight hours in complete misery. I don’t do sick with any grace whatsoever. I cried, felt bad for myself, and moaned, all while quarantined in the guest room.

And my children were fine. Actually, they were more than fine.

They went to the library, to the grocery store, and for a long walk.

They played games, blocks, and babies.

They were bathed, loved, tickled, and read to.

All while I lay in bed on what felt like the verge of death.

I could hear squeals of laughter, the muted, happy tones of back and forth daddy-daughter conversations, and endless Matthew giggles.

My husband.

He brought me water, then broth, then soup, and finally toast. He made certain that my bucket was clean and nearby.

He anticipated my every need and rubbed my back when I cried.

When I finally emerged, weak from my stomach flu-inflicted stupor, the house was completely clean, the dishes done, laundry folded and put away. I can’t remember the last time that my washer and dryer were not only empty, but had no clothes piled on top.

The refrigerator had even been cleaned out.

He stepped in and took my place. He filled the shoes that I so often feel like I can’t even begin to fill.

He accomplished more in forty-eight hours than I do in a week.

And, although I appreciated having the time to focus on my misery, when I emerged, I was filled with conflicting emotions.

My children were smiling and clean.

My house had not fallen down around me.

Meals had been made, eaten without complaint, and cleaned up.

And I had no hand in any of it.

If I’m honest, there was a part of me that was uncomfortable with the realization that the rhythm of my family continued in my absence; I suspect that perhaps things went even more smoothly.

I looked around, hoping for a stray sock, a dirty plate, a misplaced toy.


Craig had not only coped with my absence, but he had excelled where I often feel like I’m just barely hanging on.

I should have been happy with that. Our children were happy, loved, and content. Why wasn’t I?

So much of my self-worth at this point in my life is tied up in my role as a mother. This job of mothering is incredibly difficult in that there are no performance reviews, no raises or promotions. No pats on the back for a job well done. No real way to measure success.

When someone steps in and appears to do your job better than you do, it’s humbling and disconcerting.

But, there’s a huge part of me that finds comfort in knowing that Craig handles it all with such ease. I know that if something should ever happen to me, he could handle things. He would remember which outfits match Katie’s brown shoes and how to do her hair. I know that he would make Matthew smile and help him grow into an amazing man.

Then, two days after my return to the land of the living, Matthew was sitting in his highchair and his sippy cup completely leaked. It had been incorrectly put back together. Craig had somehow missed one of the eighteen puzzle-like pieces necessary for a leak-free cup.

And I stood in the kitchen, looked at the massive puddle and Matthew’s soaked shirt, and I smiled.

I’m fairly certain that Craig threw me a bone.

But, I’ll never ask.

Before my feet hit the ground…

This week, I’m honored to have Pop, from Go, Pop, Go! here on Small Moments Mondays. I’ve been looking forward to featuring him here and couldn’t wait to share him with you all.

There isn’t much that I adore more than a man who is truly involved with his children. Pop isn’t just dedicated to his baby girls, but he adores his wife as well and he so beautifully balances his humor with his softer, more reflective side.

When I invited him to come share a small moment with me here on Small Moments Mondays, he read through all of the previous posts and emailed me that he had “sawdust in his eyes.” He felt the same way that I do about this series … that the love and appreciation that we each feel for those we hold dear is paramount.

Thank you, Pop, for contributing to the sawdust factor here. I think the world of you and Small Moments Mondays is better for having you as a part of it.

Before my feet hit the ground… – by Pop

Last week, we were getting ready for a long Sunday. We were going to be gone for most of the day because we had church and then a baby shower to attend. To complicate matters, I bought a few items for church that I needed to bring that day along with some budget requests. My wife and I were so proud of ourselves as we packed the car with snacks for the kids, a Moby Wrap in case D2 (my second daughter, 7 months old, 19lb9oz) got too heavy to hold during the shower, the church equipment and budget requests, the gifts for the baby shower, and a few bottles of water and snacks for ourselves. When we were almost at church, my wife and I both smelled it: the smell of rotted sourdough bread mixed with spoiled milk that all parents of infants are familiar with.

When we arrived at church, we found that D2 dropped a BOMB and there was poop all over her and the carseat. As semi-veteran parents, scenes like this are less shocking and more commonplace, so I calmly took D2 out of the carseat, handed her to my wife and reached for the diaper bag.

Wait. Uhhhhhhhhh…..

“Honey, did you pack the diaper bag?” “No,” my wife replies, “I thought you packed it.” “No….I thought you left it in the car from our last trip.” We had a car full of stuff: gifts, snacks, etc…but we forgot the most important thing.


Just like my wife and I overlooked the most important bag without realizing it, my favorite small moment is one that is really important, and yet is easily and often overlooked, especially by us parents: beholding my sleeping spouse the moment I wake up. Ok, that sounds more than a tad creepy, so let me quickly explain.

As I get older, I find things gradually increasing. My waistline, the number of chins I have, the bags under my eyes, my responsibilities, the bills I have to pay, and most especially, my to-do list. And all these things battle for my attention first thing in the morning. “What reports are due today?” “Where do I have to take the kids?” “Do we have a meeting/dinner with anyone tonight?” These are just some of the questions that race through my head from the first waking moment as I begin my routine of getting myself & my kids ready for the day. Consequently, the first half hour in my household is a flurry of activity.

After nearly 3 years of parenting, I wish I could say our mornings are a well-choreographed symphony of awesomeness. But I can’t. Our less than smooth mornings usually include yelling (think Fred Flintstone shouting, “Wilmaaaaaaa!”), the words, “I have to pee” shortly after getting in the car, and turning back once we realize we forgot the diaper bag. Yup. Coffee isn’t the only thing brewing in our home in the morning; we brew stress fresh every day.

And that’s where my favorite small moment comes in. Will it prevent the inevitable chaos that is the morning routine? No. But like a day where someone gives you a compliment or your kid tells you, “I love you” without prompting or bribing, it’s a great start.

Thinking back to our honeymoon, I remember our first morning together so vividly. The sun was peaking through the curtains, and I woke up and looked over at my wife. She was absolutely stunning on our wedding day, but somehow, she was even more beautiful that morning. I smiled thinking that, God willing, I get to spend the rest of my days with this woman.

Some guys may disagree, but for me, the first moment in the morning is when my wife is most beautiful. No makeup, no worries or concerns on her face – just her: the woman I vowed to spend the rest of my life with.

Looking at her in that peaceful state, I feel renewed. No matter what the days before have been like or what the days ahead may hold, I know we’ll make it through together, and there’s just no better way to start my day.

And yet, it’s something I can so easily overlook as I manically attack my to-do list.

Before my feet hit the ground and I go about my day, I want to stare lovingly at the woman who makes life worth it.

So tomorrow morning, look over at your spouse and enjoy it. But not for too long – you have a lot to do today.

Now, please go over and visit Pop. Be sure to read A Letter to My Daughters: U Cant Haz Internetz, I love You, Dad, and Instantly Social? Dislike! I promise, time spent with Pop is time well spent!  Also, he’s a great friend to have on Twitter and you can follow him here.

Never Far From the Door

I’ve struggled with anxiety for my entire life.

Over the years, I’ve learned various methods for dealing with everything from basic unease to full-blown panic attacks.

In my experience, the latter have been far easier to cope with.  They come and they are frightening and truly terrible, but then they pass and they eventually release their grip on me.

The anxiety that latches on and slowly, but surely, nearly pulls me under, is the most difficult for me to overcome.

When that anxiety creeps up on me, it tugs at me when I should be happy. It pokes at me when my mind is still for even a second. It nudges at me while I’m sleeping.

Over the past few weeks, the tugs, the pokes, and the nudges have been increasing. Each day, they are just a little bit worse.

I’ve struggled to put my finger on exactly what has been bothering me.  I have been on the edge of tears, afraid to let them fall, becomes sometimes, when they start to fall, they are nearly impossible to stop.  Once I have lost that tiny bit of control, it can be so incredibly difficult to regain it.

In my attempts to figure out what has been bothering me most, I have felt as though I have been trying to hold onto water.  Every time I have tried to grab a handful of thought, it has leaked through my fingers, leaving me with empty, useless hands.

Then, the other night, I finally realized that the thing that’s bothering me most is the fact that my children are growing and I just long to stop time.

I’ve joked about it before.

But it isn’t a joke and I’m not really laughing.

Sometimes this feeling borders on desperation.

What am I afraid of exactly?  So many things.  And when I entertain those fears and try to make sense of them, I often uncover new, frightening possibilities to add to my list of worries.

It is truly a slippery slope.

I just have this feeling of doom…like the best part of my life, my beautiful life that hasn’t come easily, is slipping away.

I have written about this before, about my fear of growing old and losing these precious memories.

Although I know that there will be beautiful and breathtaking moments as my children grow and change — proms, graduations, weddings, grandchildren — just thinking of those beautiful and significant life events somehow makes this feeling worse.

Because for those things to happen, my babies will no longer be small.

They won’t be right here, by my side, to hug and to hold.

They won’t give me sloppy kisses and ask me a million questions.

Their idea of a perfect afternoon won’t be sitting and reading books with me.

They won’t be within my reach so that I can protect them.

I worry that the closeness that we’ve built will slowly slip away.

And the weight of their childhood is always there…the realization that they get but one childhood and I get only one chance to make it everything that it should and could be for them.

What if I fail to give them all that they need before they grow into young adults? The list of things that I have yet to teach them is so long and it is ever growing.

What if I run out of time?

What if something unthinkable happens to them?

What if the hole that they leave behind when they grow up and move on is just too gaping?

What if I smother them too much in my attempt to hold them close and savor the tiniest of moments?

What if…

What if…

What if…

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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