Wednesday, November 7, 2012

thankful tree

I had a bad day the other day. 

Sometimes I worry so much about Lucy it makes me sick.  She’s getting into some bad habits we can’t seem to help her kick no matter what new whiz-bang tactics we try.  Sometimes it gets me so sad because she’s been doing so well for so long.  And you know when you start on feeling sad about something like that, things snowball.  I started getting so frustrated with myself about being late for carpools. Continually.  Why can’t I pull myself together?  And I’m so far behind in my scripture reading…and book club reading.  How are my kids going to turn into book worms if I’m not reading in front of them…and not even reading at all?  And I can’t find a new piano teacher for my kids since ours retired last year (I’m the new “teacher” and it’s working better for some kids than others.)  I can’t keep up with emails from teachers and I can’t find a system that works to help the kids be as conscientious with homework as I want them to be nor can I help them all at the same time.  Have I trained them to use their time wisely?  How can I do that if I can’t do it myself?

And then I get comments on this blog like I am some sort of superwoman and it stresses me out because they don’t know the real me: the one who is frazzled and gets ignored by her children on a regular basis.  Things don’t always come together like they seem to on blogs.  We do have some great systems but they don’t work seamlessly all the time.  We do not go skipping around in sunsets (most of the time:) or live in perfect peace and harmony all the time.  One daughter hit another in church on Sunday.  Right in the middle of sacrament meeting.  Lucy is getting shunned by friends at school because they are realizing she is different.  I get mad at kids for not doing their jobs (because they don’t…often).  The kids get huffy and slam doors when they’re  mad (they take after their mother).  I sometimes get huffy at Dave even when he’s trying to help.

But luckily that bad day happened to be “Thankful Tree” day.  Our traditional beginning-of-November-Family-Home-Evening night when we put together our Thanksgiving tree to help us remember our blessings.

There’s nothing like that to help whip you back to your senses.

As we cut out branches and leaves and filled them with things we loved and were so very thankful for, the thick air of gratitude started swallowing up my sorrow.2012-11-05 fall 64406

I didn’t even care that my kids were on the counter with dirty feet.2012-11-05 fall 64410

…we added “Clorox disinfecting wipes” to our leaves of gratitude :)

Lucy’s careful writing mingled amidst the other leaves made my heart swell.  She can write.  She is learning so much.

Usually we just do a few leaves the first night and add a few more at breakfast each morning but this year we just couldn’t seem to stop.2012-11-05 fall 64411

Dave and Max looked ever so helpful over writing up a storm on their own thankful leaves…2012-11-05 fall 64412

…but this is what they were really doing:2012-11-05 fall 64413(along with their leaf-writing)

…which meant a good time was had by all :)2012-11-05 fall 64417

How grateful I am for this month of gratitude and Thanksgiving.

Life is far from complete harmony and continual rainbows and butterflies.  But how grateful I am for this good, imperfect family of mine and for all the valleys of hardships and deep worries among the gorgeous mountaintop vistas of goodness that come our way.

I adore them despite all the craziness and they forgive me and adore me right back despite all my indecisiveness and commotion-causing-hustling. 

I feel like the luckiest girl ever that they’re mine and I’m theirs.

42 comments:

Amy said...

It looks like you need a bigger tree! I'm thankful for this post and your blog. I've been feeling the same way about the kids bad habits and me so unorganized and not able to eep up with what seems like everyone else. After the election last night,I've been depressed for our country and our childrens future so I am definately going to do the thankful tree. I'm so sorry Lucy is having to go through that at school, I know as a mother it breaks your heart.

dresselfamily.blogspot.com said...

Thank you for posting this! I have had one of those weeks too, kids fighting, raised voices ( mine above all trying to drown out everyone else's)!!
So thank you for once again keeping it real!

Q: Do you ever have full blown PMS days? LOL, I mean you can't have the ' i feel fat, ugly' days, because.. well you just are not allowed ;) but do u have those days where you want to hide in the closet?

P Mac said...

Thanks so much for all you share on your blog! You have a beautiful family and it's obvious how much you love your kids. I am a mom of 3 wonderful and thriving kids - my oldest is getting ready to serve a mission in Mexico for 2 years. I am so blessed and have so much to be thankful for but I definitely have discouraging days too. I know you don't need my advice - you are obviously a great lady - but keep the faith. The Lord will never leave you or your family. :) Thanks for all you do to uplift others.

Sidekick said...
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ellen said...

It sounds like you're normal. :)

Neener said...

Great post! Great idea from a great mom. Thanks for sharing a part of the real you. Don't you hate it when one of your kids hits the other in sacrament meeting? mind did that while their father (the bishop) watched on the stand. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Have a wonderful day. We are implementing the "Money system" you do into our family on Sunday. Thanks for your great ideas.

Terese said...

Thanks Shawni! I needed this post today.

Jill Friary said...

We all have bad days. Even though you're not "super woman" you are still a huge inspiration to all of your readers. You have taught me to slow down and appreciate these crazy kids of mine even more. Because of you I have my camera in my hand all the time capturing all the simple moments. I even started my own blog!
We even started a thankful tree this year for the first time and I am so pleased at how many things my kids are thankful for!!
Praying for Lucy and the rest of your family. Thanks for sharing your life with all of us!!

Jill Friary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Camile said...

I hear ya'!

When I get down about things I say to myself, "Congratulations Camile, you're alive!" (because if I wasn't alive I wouldn't be having those down days.) :)

I want to have it all together too. I want to be the best mom and have the most wonderful kids. But sometimes I'm not the best and sometimes my kids aren't that wonderful!

I love how you can turn it around and recognize how blessed you are! Thanks for sharing!

Holly said...

You've blown your cover! Now we know you are human and not superwoman after all!!! Jokes aside, I still think you do an amazing job as a mother, wife and friend!

Reality is we're all different, all humans with faults and unique personalities.

It makes my heart sing when I read your blog, because it is real and not just "merry sunshine". You share your heart...joys and troubles, and that's what connects you so well to others.

Praying for you!

P.S. I always love your thankful tree! Someday, all of your kids will be doing the same thing with their families...a lovely legacy!

Jaymerz said...

Thanks for this post today!! Our little thankful tree sits empty because we just haven't had time to sit and cut out leaves and fill it. Life is busy and I know I have those days when I wonder why I just can't get it together. I am struggling with my son right now, I don't know how to help him and it is frustrating, hang in there!!

Christine said...

I am VERY thankful for this post today! I stress myself out about the way things really are in my own home...the kids fight, I get huffy (love that word), and things just don't go right a lot of the time. And now after last night's election....

I am going to have us do our own Thankful Tree this coming Monday night. Thanks for the inspiration!

[Stacia] said...

Thank you, thank you! I cried. :) We've had a lot of changes in our family recently (read: across country move to a strange place with no time to prepare our kids) that have most definitely had an effect on my emotions and mental well being. I try so hard to not compare myself to blogs because it's so true, life doesn't quite come together like it seems to on a blog, but I realized as I was reading this beautiful post that I have been comparing myself to blogs, especially yours, and it isn't helping me be the best that I can. So thank you for sharing so many positive things but thanks even more for sometimes throwing in reality. :)

andee said...

What a wonderful and very timely post. Thank you for sharing the ups and down of life with all of us.

Mindy said...

Thanks Shawni, I so needed this hear this today. There are a lot of super moms but no "supermoms" :) You can do hard things and you can do amazing things too.

that's what she said...

I feel like you wrote this post for me today-thank you!!!

I stay up late every night it seems, laying in bed trying to figure out my 3 year old who just needs lots of extra attention. He goes to early intervention, another preschool that is half an hour away just because i heard it was a good one and want to offer him all the help i can. Every day is a battle with him on everything and every day i feel stretched to the limits with 3 little babies that need me all in different unique ways.

reading back on your old blogs about lucy....that is my son. what i mean is, the behavior is him to a t. but i have to have faith that things are as they should be. they'll get better. i'm not going to be stuck in this low for forever-look how much improvement lucy has made and what a wonderful sweet girl she has become!

You plugging along....that's inspiring to me. Real life and everything.

Unknown said...

just because you god forbid slam a door or run late doesn't make you a bad mother or a bad person. it just makes you human. children fight. parents fight. conflict is good. it teaches. we all fail. all fall short of the glory of god. hence, we need a savior. be thankful for your imperfection (which is present in all human beings) because it is a reminder of your need for christ.

Margot said...

Thank you Shawni. So much. I have tears in my eyes. I hate that you had a bad day and have worries. I am grateful for your honesty though. It makes my bad days and worries feel not so lonely. Wishing you better days <3

belle and whistle said...

Boy oh boy, the amount of love you have in your heart for those six people is so huge and so so precious

Karen said...

I love reading your blog and I'm not sure I've ever left a comment. This is such a beautiful, heartfelt post. I admire so many of the things that you do with your family, and even though my kids are older than yours, you give me a lot to think about and new ideas. What I SO admire about you is that even though your life isn't perfect (and you've been so kind to share even your most frustrating moments), you are so optimistic and never give up. You have such a beautiful spirit -- THAT is what shines through for me -- and that is what your kids will learn from you. Thanks so much for sharing your heart today. Special prayers for Lucy. I have a child who is struggling right now, and it is so painful to this mother's heart.

Susan said...

"The best you can do is all you can do and the best you can do is always enough."

From Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

The Mrs. said...

I thank you for reminding me that things don't have to be "perfect" to be good.

Love you!

xoxo

Anne Peay said...

Thanks for keeping it real.

Anne Peay said...

thanks for keeping it real.

i wish i was rich so you could come speak to my local mom's club and ward here in Lancaster, PA.

just a wish of mine. you and nienie get me through the day sometimes.

thanks for that!

Elizabeth said...

I'm sure it's so, so painful to see your child go through the social isolation that Lucy is going through now. My heart breaks for both of you. But truly, she has the most loving family anyone could have, and that matters more than anything else.

Be kind to yourself too. I think you have to do the best you can and then give yourself permission to let the rest go. No one expects you to do it all with five kids. Hope tomorrow is a better day:)

sosilly said...

Keep it real without comparing.
We are neither above nor below the person next to us. We are just who we are, doing the best that we can, under the circumstances we have. Guilt is usually from comparisions.

Amy Louise said...

I always appreciate and enjoy your honesty. Today was one of those "not-so-great-kinda-crappy-days-as-a-mom-days" for me too. It is so hard to manage it all with 6 kids and really I would just love to clone myself just once! But alas, the day has ended well; somehow the homework gets done, even if late. The dinner gets made and scarfed, even if late. And usually MANY things still remain UNDONE, but there is a new day that awaits. Slowly, everyone congregates back together for a bit before they retreat to their individual space in the house. If we can leave our children with a kind, loving impression as the day ends, then that has to count for something!

On a funnier note, your mention of one of your girls hitting another sibling in church reminded me of a funny thing that happened once in sacrament meeting with one of my kids. (Hitting has happened a few times for us too--I pronounce you and your family NORMAL:). Anyway, one of my little boys would not give up his sacrament cup, and in the struggle to take it from him, he decided to launch it as if it were a baseball! Imagine the surprise on the face of the woman's lap it landed in SIX ROWS IN FRONT OF US! I was mortified, but man, it sure gets our family chuckling and smiling when we talk about it now!

Take care Shawni! Give yourself a break now and then. I hope once in a great while you just lay down for 20 minutes and take a power nap!

dawn said...

Sorry you had a bad day, it happens to all of us. You are still an amazing mom, so keep your spirits up. I'm so sorry about Lucy and her friends, sad how kids can be like that. Good thing she's got lots of attention and love at home.Thanks for keeping it real for us.
We started our thankful leaves too, it's my favorite month and activity to do with the kids.
Sending you a warm hug and smile today!!

Cheryl said...

http://m.espn.go.com/wireless/story?storyId=8579599
This is one of the sweetest things I've ever seen and restores my faith in the youth of today.

Jon and Lisa said...

The Thanksgiving tree is such a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing. I understand about the bad days--we all definitely have them. But I have found through many bad days over many years that centering on gratitude does make a difference. Doesn't necessarily change the bad days--they still happen. But makes them more bearable. And hey we're all awesome. We are trying. And that's all we're really asked to do isn't it. God is good and His presence carries us along. And I'm grateful . . .

Heather (Paralyzed with JOY!) said...

I really appreciated your honesty in this post. That being said, I want you to know how good you are! Of course I don't know you personally (only through your blog) but I can tell just how dedicated you are to your family and your children. We're our own worst critics and tend to think the worst of ourselves. I know I often think, "why can't I see myself that way others see me?!" It's hard to do! I think it's a tactic Satan uses to make us feel discouraged and like we can't measure up. Anyway, just know that I'm a major fan of yours, Shawni, and that I think you're awesome! :)

Your paralyzed friend,
Heather

Manda said...

The last picture with everyone, Lucy looks like she has really slimmed down. Looks like all of your hard work keeping her healthy is paying off.

I hope your family has a stress free and relaxing Thanksgiving this year.

Jen T said...

We do a thankful tree also every year, and it is a great thing. So important to stop and count your blessing!

CathyMA said...

Oh Shawni, don't feel bad about having bad days. They are unavoidable. I also received a comment from a friend stating that my life is perfect because she follows my blog (for family/friends). HA! I told her the truth: my life is not perfect but who wants to see photos of my family members annoyed with each other? Do you really want to see a photo of my daughter's eyeroll? I choose to put the fun stuff, the happy stuff on my blog. Those are the moments I need to never forget. No one forgets the bad stuff. Ever. It's the good stuff that somehow sometimes gets hazy.
Also, on the comments about car-pooling & piano playing. Sarah over at Clover Lane has a good post about that. Basically, if this is not the season in your life where you can car-pool or find an appropriate piano teacher for your children, then LET IT GO. Trust me, your children will be fine. Your neighbors children will be fine too. For example: my sister in law lives in my neighborhood and can't get over the fact we did not purchase a mini-van (she even insisted upon it). I have 2 children and have never in the 8 years suffered even one day for not being able to car-pool her children. I can comfortably fit my 2 children with their booster seats in my car and no more. When they are teenagers I will rethink it. Right now, it is not the right time for me to car-pool.
Oh, and the hitting at church. You should visit the 930am children's mass at my Catholic Church. HA!

Molly said...

Hi Shawni!

Thank you for this post. I struggle with being a perfectionist and a control freak, and have recently been caught up with the notion that I am good at the "doing" part of motherhood (organizing, being on time, remembering important things...), but I'm really not so great at the "being" side of motherhood. I so often have a difficult time truly *being* there for my daughters because I'm so caught up in the doing. I don't how to be better balanced, but I so appreciate your honestly about the tough times that you face as a mother. I completely respect and admire you and love following your blog. Thank you.

xoxo

Katie said...

we do the same thing on thanksgiving! we love the tradition.

Stephanie said...

I must admIt that I'm one of those people who thinks you have it completely together- even though I know that we all fight our own battles. Thanks for this post.

Jane Newman said...

Thanks for keeping it real - these posts mean a lot to me as I am doing it tough with baby # 4 immeninent and 2 kids under 3 and a 7 year old. I love your posts - thank you. I also love the thankful tree - we don't have thanksgiving but I love this kind of family tradition.

Brigette Little said...

I have days like that, too!!! Thanks for the reminder to be thankful! :)

tahnie said...

first of all, chin up! you are alive and so are your kids and that in and of itself is a HUGE blessing!

second, i am SO happy i found your blog. sweet lucy's story is incredibly inspiring and motivating in my own health battles.

thank you for sharing your heart so openly. i can't wait to read more of your story!

xoxo.

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

I loved this post. So often I think we only put our best face out in public whether it be online or off and it's so easy to be intimidated by the accomplishments of others and focused on our own failures rather than our successes.

I have a son with Asperger's and he's just started middle school. To say that I worry is an understatement. I have almost daily email discussions with his awesome resource teacher who I am very grateful for and who is an answer to prayer. But, this week we've had a couple of those not so good parent/child days (and it's only Wednesday!) and we've both been huffy. He's showing signs of pre-teen attitude and stubbornness over homework and I wonder where my sweet, compliant boy went and I'm showing signs of impatience and frustration with his apparent inability to stay organized and on task, even thought I know that is one of his struggles in life. Then, I find myself grateful for Anne's promise that tomorrow is a new day, with no mistakes in it and I can start over. What would we do without the promise of a fresh start?

I love your Thanksgiving tree. What an awesome idea. I think we may do something similar on Monday before Thanksgiving. I always do much better when I focus on what I do have rather than what I don't do.

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