Monday, June 11, 2007

Trenches / Chapter 1 / Happily Ever After

Who says you need a wicked step-mother and ugly step-sisters to make you feel like Cinderella? Two young kids are enough for me. From when they wake up in the morning until they fall asleep at night, Jared and Amanda keep me hopping.

The first words out of Amanda's mouth most mornings are "high chair." She wants breakfast, and she wants it now. Jared, four and very opinionated, informs me he'll have a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of juice. Well, they're just going to have to wait until I get a batch of laundry started--Jared’s nose bled in bed again.

Halfway through breakfast I'm on my hands and knees mopping up Amanda's cereal. Moments later Jared spills his juice down the shelves of the refrigerator door. After I finish cleaning up the fridge and breakfast dishes, I discover why it's been so quiet the past few minutes. Both kids are in the bathroom having a "water experience."

Where is a fairy godmother when you need her? I'm in need of some major bibbity-bobbity-boo!

The reality is that no wand-wielding fairy is going to help me live happily ever after. Much as I'd like it to, fairy tale quackery won't alleviate any symptoms of Cinderella Syndrome. There is hope, however. In my search for a cure, I've come across some real-life remedies -- small breakthroughs that help me survive rough days of parenting.

One way to focus on the positives of parenting involves capturing the wonders of childhood -- the cute, funny, and often embarrassing things kids say and do. This doesn't require anything fancy. A notebook and pen are my favorite recording devices. Reading the following entry from Jared's notebook works like magic, transforming me back to my usual self:
July 28, 1996 -- Grandma asked Jared, "What do you eat that makes you grow big and strong?" Without hesitation he responded, "Red popsicles!"

Another attitude aid I use is a gratitude journal. Each night before going to bed, I review the day's events and find five things that I'm grateful for. Big or small, I write them down. One night I wrote, "I'm grateful Jared didn't throw-up more than once today." More recently I noted, "Happiness is a spur-of-the-moment trip to the park, pushing the kids on the swings, feeding the geese and ducks, and kicking the leaves along the sidewalk."

Keeping a gratitude journal not only helps end the day on a positive note but also provides a needed dose of perspective when Cinderella symptoms flare up.

I still cook, clean, and do laundry, and Jared and Amanda continue to create challenges. But by making an effort to capture the magical moments of childhood and cataloging my blessings in a gratitude journal, I'm happier. In fact, I'm discovering that when I stop and notice, every day contains pieces of happily ever after.

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