Let me count the ways of love

By Mir
August 19, 2010

There are times when I think that if the phrase “attitude of gratitude” was a person, I would be tempted to punch it square in the nose of its smug, righteous little face. It just sounds… smarmy. Holier-than-thou-ungrateful-and-possibly-unwashed-self. Fake and pious. That aspect of it I can do without.

On the other hand, there’s something about that phrase that I love. It’s short and simple and to the point. It’s a great reminder to myself even as I’m grappling with raising complicated no-longer-so-small people who can sometimes bear a striking resemblance to Veruca Salt. So, yes, it can sound a little trite, but the idea behind it rings true to me.

It’s about acknowledging the good and being appreciative as a default position. I can’t find anything wrong with that, rhyming words aside. I liked doing a quick inventory so much, the last time I did it, I’m going to do it again today.

1) I found myself aggravated about something, earlier, and the dog came out from under the futon and—after a giant stretch—came and flopped down on my feet. I was calmer almost instantly. (Know those annoying “Head On, apply directly to the forehead!” commercials? I’m totally investing in “Dog On, apply directly to the feet!” instead.)

2) Monkey’s new teacher gave him a special notebook to keep his Computomon (think Bakugan/Pokemon hybrid of his own creation) stuff organized, and his parapro made him an “angry notebook” to use when he’s feeling frustrated. These women are learning Monkey’s language more quickly than I’d dared to hope, and I see many homemade cookies in their future.

3) I owed my father some money, and he told me not to worry about it, just consider us even for my birthday. I refused and sent him a check for the amount I owed him. He sent me a check for an identical amount for my birthday. Now we are in a standoff until he cashes his. Heh.

4) Chickadee asked me if she could list Otto’s experience with something as part of her “qualifications” on a club application. I said she could not, but she could ask Otto to teach her. Their ensuing exchange was very sweet, and a nice respite from the “don’t talk to your mother that way”/”I wasn’t!” two-step they’ve been doing lately.

5) The other night Otto and I sat on the porch while I was in A Mood and I found that a brief trip around the pool to rescue wayward frogs helped considerably.

6) Generally the state of my children’s beds after they’ve “made” them makes me want to film an instructional video called How To Actually Make Your Bed If You Are Neither Drunk Nor Blind. But for some reason this morning I found the lopsided blankets and akimbo pillows somewhat endearing, and reminded myself that at least they did it. Sort of.

7) “Did you get any cool books in the mail today?” is one of my favorite after-school greetings. Both because I love my job and because I love my nerdlings.

8) Currently my bulletin board sports (among other things) a note painstakingly penned to me from the 12-year-old son of one of my dearest friends. It makes me smile.

9) The kids gave Licorice a stuffed chipmunk for her birthday. By the time they got up this morning, said chipmunk was a shell of its former self—literally. The squeaker and all the stuffing were removed, and the tail and one leg ripped off. Whenever we get to witness this sort of Toy Carnage, Otto and I nudge each other knowingly and intone, “This dog may never play with toys, you know.” (I’m glad we took her even though we were told that. And I’m glad it turned out to be wrong.)

10) An hour ago the sky clouded over and it rained really hard for about two minutes. I realized I’d sent the kids to school without rain jackets and hoped it would clear up before the end of the day. Now it’s completely sunny with no evidence that there was a storm. Something about the fickleness of the weather is deeply reassuring to me.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Whatever you prefer to call it, this attitude of gratitude thing is pretty neat.


  1. 12tequilas

    I was taking medicine with a very yucky side effect that made me miserable. I chose to go off the meds, and every day I wake up grateful for not having that side effect anymore. Not sure how long that will last, but it is making life grand at the moment.

  2. Beth R

    My theory on bed making (my own since I don’t have kids) has always been “it’s fine if you can see more blanket than bottom sheet.” Plonk a teddy bear in the middle of it and it’s made to me :)

    That sounds like a pretty good inventory of how good things actually are, m’dear! I know it’s belated, but I wanted to wish you a happy birthday and to let you know that 40 was a pretty cool birthday, so you’ve got lots to look forward to.

  3. Kate

    Finally, an excellent reinterpretation of those befuddling, somehow horrifying Head On commercials. So thanks, and happy Thursday to you.

  4. s

    one of my boys just started making his bed this summer (most days I have to strip it bc he’s one of those late bedwetting kiddos unfortunately) and altho it makes me nuts when I see the job he’s done, I try to chuckle – how he can think that half-donkeyed job is actually satisfactory baffles me…but I leave it because, hey, he’s made an effort and its amazing how much effort he really does put in and it still looks that way! hopefully in the winter when its cold and he doens’t throw his sheets and blankets across the room to stay cool it won’t be this bad?

    I like your list…but if your dog decimates toys in a matter of hours, is that really playing?? we have one of those – her idea of play is to completely attack and remove all stuffing and squeakers. She had ONE toy she never destroyed – she slept with it, carried it everywhere but another dog snagged it and ruined it. sad day for her. I can’t find that same toy to replace it with…

    And I want your job if I get books in the mail – I think the librarians are scared when the UPS guy comes in and I say geez, I’d work here for free if I could open all those packages up every single day and see NEW BOOKS!

    tell your dad he can send me some $ if he doesn’t want to play your games…haha

  5. Pamela

    I was writing this comment about how my husband can’t/won’t make the bed, when I realized that’s pretty much exactly the opposite attitude from this post. I like your version better.

  6. elz

    Sweet. You know your dad is never cashing his check, right? The other day my older daughter Em said “You know, we don’t do enough for you and daddy.” So, she taught her sister how to make her bed. It only lasted for a day or two, but it was sweet anyway.

  7. ramblin red

    I missed the first ‘quick inventory’ post since it is summer and my internet usage has been sparing, but I LOVE this. I, too, tend towards dysthymia and boy it sure helps to think of all the good up front and center. So happy to hear about #2 (my son was assigned the same 504-oblivious teacher that my daughter had for 2nd grade, and he is also on a 504, for completely different reasons, and I think I might just be bald by the end of the the year).

  8. Rachel

    I loved this, it’s inspiring me to take count of the things I’m thankful for!

    Side note, I’ve never understood the importance of a made bed. It was never a vital chore I had to do during my childhood. As an adult, I rarely make the bed… I don’t see the point. I’m just going to sleep in the bed and mess it up again tonight, right? Dishes, Laundry… those things, you’ll get dirty again, and you have to clean them regularly. I totally get that. But sheets, you just change periodically. Why bother, right? Different strokes for different folks, I guess!

  9. Melody

    I’m not the only one who doesn’t make her bed? YES! It drives my mom crazy, and she doesn’t even live here. But if she is here babysitting, she will go upstairs and make my bed. Makes me smile. I am 42, happily married with twin 5 year olds.

  10. Cele

    You love Thursday post always make me smile. thank you and happy Friday.

  11. Mia

    here is fuel for your “gratitude” attitude: I haven’t had the pleasure of nagging my kids about their beds in over a year now. Haven’t tucked them in with secret whispers, tickle fights, soft songs, prayers or even ignored dirty feet and unbrushed teeth: haven’t woken them by gentle back rubs, morning snuggles, or insistent pleas, and haven’t re-made a bed, re-fluffed a pillow, stripped off sheets with a martyrd sigh, or bundled the mess in an angry pile for later: none of it; and I would give you my very own hands so you could have an extra pair if I could just have the joy of facing an unmade/messily made bed of theirs every day… I’d even come and make YOUR kids’ beds if I could have the honor of making MY kids beds. Oh Mir… how I envy your irritations and prickly moments – the same ones I used to have “BEFORE”. Love Thursday indeed.

  12. Ginger

    My son is now 15 and our family motto is “Less Attitude & More Gratitude”. Really helps the both of us on any given day! The dog and the cat help alot too!

  13. joaaanna

    Re: 9) – Our dog has always done the same things with stuffed toys. We’ve found if we can somehow puncture the squeaker inside so it doesn’t squeak anymore, it lasts MUCH longer. And of course it shouldn’t have any sticky-outty-thingy’s either. So basically he gets some sort of stuffed blob that has the face of a chicken or a cow and doesn’t squeak. But lemme tell ya, Moo Cow has lasted for several months now and gets lots of playtime!

  14. Heather

    I am spoiled – my husband makes not only our bed but our three year olds. He has been out of town since Wednesday and I know that he will make the beds this evening before we go to bed. It makes me laugh since I am definitely the slob in that and many other departments.

  15. Katie in MA

    LOVE #1! I can just hear it now: “Having a doggone day? Are you just doggone tired of dealing with too much stress? Try Dog On! Apply directly to the feet!…” Strangely, it seems absolutely not annoying at all. Even with the creepy announcer dude factored in. (Think Licorice gets the credit.) :-)

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