My dear friend Beth Wallace is one of those moms who I just adore. She's real. She shares with me her struggles, her ups and downs, the moments where she's not sure she is going to last through one more sleepless night. She also is fiercely devoted to her babies, the type of mom who I can picture singing to them every single night before bed despite being exhausted herself and who does those little mom touches that make things better in her kids' world.
She was feeling down last year. Like she couldn't manage the busy-ness that comes with two kids. She needed something to show her just how lucky she was. She found a gratitude project and started taking pictures of things she is thankful for, particularly with her kids and family. It's changed her life.
I personally have tried on my Instagram account @themommystories to feature things I'm grateful for as a mother about once a month. In November I posted one picture a day for 30 days and I have to agree with Beth, it does change things, your mindset, perspective, mood. It makes you happier, seeing things that you didn't notice before to be grateful for.
Try it! I used the hashtag #thankfulmoms on my Instagram account. If you're on there and want to start this project, please join us and tag your photos.
All images from Beth Wallace
I started my gratitude journal in late January 2013. I had a three year old and a six month old. I was feeling sleep-deprived, grumpy and not wanting to miss out on my daughter’s babyhood the way that I felt I did with my son.
What was the first thing you were grateful for? Give us 5 other things over the last year that you have been grateful for.
The first thing I was grateful was this photo. I had just received this sweater in the mail from my mom. I promptly put it on Laurel, and she has worn it almost daily since.
I don’t even know how to pick 5 things…but here they go:
My most common threads are my children. I just started a new job, and I have found it hard to find moments that pull at my heart while I’m at work. I’m happier overall by working, but I’ve noticed the moments that really make me stop are with the kids.
As stated above, my children are almost always my inspiration. I’m so glad for that because that was the whole point of this project. I always could appreciate my partner though. He’s an amazing father and husband.
Do it. I chose photography because it’s easy for me. If you like to write, then write. If you like to draw, then draw. If you like to do yoga, then do yoga and set an intention for the day or blessing for the night. Anything.
I try to do it daily. Sometimes I’ll be without Internet connection, and I’ll post a bunch later (or not at all). I am not perfect with it, but I do like it. It takes me a minute or two.
I think I am innately someone who sees the glass half-empty too much of the time. My husband often sees the glass half-full, and I want to be like that. I am never perfect, but I do feel that in this past year and a half, my attitude has changed. For example, over the last few weeks/month, I started a new job, we had a ton of sickness, traveled on two big trips, and essentially got NO sleep. One morning riding around at 4am to get my daughter to sleep and not wake up the whole house where we were guests, I was even counting my blessings then. Trust me, I was grumpy, sooo tired, and agitated, but after we both caught some snoozes parked in the van, I felt better. I was able to look at our two weeks of crazy travel as AWESOME days but hard nights. I felt good recognizing those hard nights, but I was much more present and happy around my nieces and nephews.
What have you learned about life in this process of being grateful daily?
Well, I haven’t had any major hardships this year, such as tragic loss. I have seen friends suffer earth-shattering losses in the past few years, and it makes me want to stop more appreciate all of those around me.
I can be happy by my OWN accord. No one else is responsible for my happiness. There are many things I need to nurture my spirit, such as sleep, good food and exercise. By doing this project, I felt I had the energy to tackle some other goals to better myself. A few of them last year were less Target shopping, less soda, healthier eating, less Facebook. I feel more empowered.
Mothering is so taxing. It’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s so rewarding too. I would look at other moms and wonder, “What is wrong with me? I have always LOVED babies and little kids. Why am I not enjoying them like these friends are?” Taking stock of what I love about them and our life has given me a much better perspective and less comparing.
I am inspired by the Abundant Mama project I did this year. One of the prompts was to pick a different person in your life to journal about in a gratefulness manner each day. I’m excited to do this. I mainly journaled about Holden, Laurel, Josh and my MIL who often babysits. I need and want to include more people in my daily gratitude.
Thank you for highlighting me Angela.
I hope other mommies who are a little bit exhausted, a little bit blah, or heck…just experiencing the world of mommy hood, find a way that helps them see a bit of a regular gratitude without it being a ton of work. Don’t set the bar high, and if it doesn’t work for you, find something that does.