There will be no images today, no witty short-attention-span-videos from Vine to share, and no memes extolling the virtues of parenting.
Today’s task was in the heartfelt expression of appreciation for my children.
I’m a big believer and proponent of gratitude lists. By starting each and every day with listing things that I am grateful for at that moment, it changes my perspective and forces me to think critically about what is right with my life, rather than what may be lacking.
Today, however, that was turned around. I wasn’t just writing about what I am grateful for, but what I am grateful to experience as a result of being my children’s father. It took me a whopping 10 minutes to hand write three different lists of 10 things I appreciate about each of my children who are still living at home.
10 minutes. In that amount of time, I could have gotten a refill on my coffee. In that amount of time, I could have popped a bag of popcorn for lunch. In that amount of time, I could have done at least a hundred other menial tasks that have no bearing on the meaning I ascribe to my existence, but today, I chose to do otherwise.
Shortly after my kids came home from school, I pulled them aside individually and read them the lists, one-by-one. For my youngest daughter, one item included her dimples, at which point, she smiled, letting them shine. Another item included her hugs at the perfect moment, at which point, she proved me right, squeezing me tightly. As I read my youngest son’s list to him, I started noticing a trend…
For each item I expressed gratitude, my children enacted that very item. My son even asked if I would read his to him again, at which point, he re-enacted them all again.
The best part? My youngest daughter, later this evening, created her own list of 10 things to share with her mother, who was having a particularly rough day and needed to hear just how much she is loved and appreciated. Then, my wife turned and created her own lists in return for each of them.
Mother Teresa once said, “I have found the paradox; that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” I think she was onto something with this. As we express our appreciation, it invites others into relationship with us, encouraging further behavior for which the original gratitude was expressed.
The only drawback to this exercise? It took 10 minutes away from my normal daily routine.
Not much of a drawback, is it?