Yesterday was one of those days. The transition back from vacation has been hard on all of us. The girls went from having two full-time entertainers to being stuck with me. And having to run errands. That's tough. And I went from having two full-time child entertainers to being responsible for two quarrelsome preschoolers. That was tough. It was all around a tough day. There was a 51 minute tantrum. And I lost count of the timeouts. If you want more evidence for the existence of a loving and merciful God, look at my girls. They're still here. And I'm still here. That's an act of God. I was ready to run screaming from the house by 2pm yesterday.
I actually found myself using the words, "You need an attitude adjustment, young lady." Yes, to my 3 year old. Yeah, classy. And productive.
In reality, those words should have been directed at myself.
As I walked to the train station this morning, I thought about attitude and perspective. I treasure those 20 minutes on either end of my commute. I have the privilege of enjoying some of the most beautiful urban wilderness in the country. Maybe even the world. I see wildlife. I hear birds instead of cars. I get exercise. In the middle of the city. What a gift! I am so lucky!
I could complain about the cold. Or the gravel that gets in my shoes. Or the fact that Boston is such an expensive place to live that my family only has one car, so I have to take the T to work. But instead, I choose to see it as a gift.
Why can't I do the same with my girls?
Other people describe them as adorable, funny, precocious, spirited, curious, and observant. My descriptions for them yesterday were cranky, whiney, quarrelsome, and punky. Perhaps my descriptions were technically correct. The did have a rough day. Including a 51 minute tantrum. And one of them is occasionally known to poop on the rug. But if I only see the bad, how can I foster the good?
I've come to the realization that lately, I see them as responsibilities more than I see them as gifts. True, they are both. But if I only see the responsibility, I miss out on the gift.
I've been given some questionable gifts in the past. Like the ugly turquoise suede skirt that I was given for Christmas when I was 11 or 13. Today, I'd rock that turquoise suede skirt happily. But back then, I cursed my Grandma's addiction to the Home Shopping Network. Girls my age did not want turquoise suede skirts.
These girls are not that suede skirt. They are beautiful and delightful. They are everything I've ever wanted. (well, along with their father...) They are the dream of every childless couple in the world. And I've been considering them "responsibilities."
Shame on me. I need an attitude adjustment.
Now, I have no delusions that this will make them better behaved. They will still exhibit typical toddler/preschooler behavior. And that consists of a lot of limit-testing. And sass. And that will still require a lot of patience on my part.
But if I can focus on the trees of the Arboretum and minimize the gravel in my Danskos and finger-whitening cold, I can certainly focus on the gracious gift that my children are to me and minimize the ego-withering defiance and eardrum-rupturing squabbles. I suspect we'll all be happier.
Wish me luck. I think this will be more difficult than cutting back on my internet use.