I meant to post something about gratitude during the week of Thanksgiving, but the days were full of holiday preparations to the point that I had no time to spare on putting such words together. Now that I have a moment, let me express a surprising bit of gratitude: I am thankful for my mornings.
No one in my family is a morning person, least of all me, so any positive feeling at that time of day is outside of my usual. But things have shifted with the beginning of this school year. After years of getting up super early to take the bus to work well before my daughter woke for school, I have traded in my bus pass for a set of car keys.
My mornings are no longer a frenzied rush to make my bus. They are comparatively slower and much happier. They have become my most treasured moments with my daughter. We talk about our dreams and plans over breakfast, and sometimes we even have time to share a story or two. By the time I send her off to school and leave for work, I am smiling. I can’t help it.
One of my favorite morning moments was from a story we read one day before school. The book was The Best Time of Day by Eileen Spinelli, and my daughter shared her own best, which was not far off from my own. She had a dreamy/happy voice when she said how much she loved mornings–at school. Her favorite time of day is that moment when she first gets to school. “There are kids and teachers talking and laughing. The piano is playing, and everyone is saying hi to each other and rushing around. I just love it so much.”
These are the moments I don’t want to miss. It’s the stuff of happiness, right? Watching this little girl experience the world as her own individual while sharing so much of who she is with her father and me makes me happy. I’m grateful for moments like this.
Happiness is complicated though, especially when it comes to our kids. Parenting is not all sunshine and lollipops. You don’t need me to tell you that, I’m sure. I probably didn’t need a whole book telling me that over and over in different ways, but I still read All Joy and No Fun by Jennifer Senior. And somehow, I even loved it. For all the bleak stories and statistics in the book that threatened to be pretty depressing, it was all so fascinating. She chronicles how the word “parent” turned into a verb, how kids went from being “economically worthless to emotionally priceless,” and how happiness plays a role in all of this stuff in a shifting world where there is no script for any of us.
In the absence of a script, it’s just love. It’s just little moments where we read stories and talk about our favorite things. It’s the days when we can’t help but smile.
Read or watch more:
- Jennifer Senior’s TED Talk: For parents, happiness is a high bar
- A short version of the book: All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting
- Dan Gilbert’s TED Talk: The Surprising Science of Happiness