December has not been the easiest of months as far as parenting goes. It has little to do with the fact that Lucy is teething yet again and Penny seems to have officially given up naps, and more to do with the fact that I have had to do so much of it alone. Kevin’s job has once again forced him to spend days at a time jetting off to opposite ends of the country, causing me to have more pity parties than I care to admit.
Parenting by yourself is no joke, and not just because you are forced to handle all of the responsibilities- all of the meal prep and post meal clean up and diapers and middle of the night wake ups (although that is a huge part of it), it’s also hard because it’s just plain lonely. When your 3 year old decides to use a new word like “disgusting” but it’s completely out of context (“Mommy I feel so disgusting” while happily rubbing her belly), or starts calling you “honey” (which feels incredibly condescending and sweet at the same time), you want to be able to look into your partner’s smiling eyes and laugh about it. Or when your almost 2 year old struts around the house saying “Dada, where are youuuu” on repeat, you can’t help but feel a little sad. I know there are people in this situation all the time, or for months at a time while their partners are deployed, and my experience is nothing to cry about by comparison, but I’m just saying. When I am in the middle of yet another week of parenting alone, it does feel like something to cry about.
On one such night, because I was relying on the television to lighten my parenting duties but couldn’t stomach yet another episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, I took Netflix’s suggestion and started playing “White Christmas.” The girls were pretty enthralled by the eye catching costumes and song and dance numbers, but the scene where Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney bump into each other while searching in the kitchen for a midnight snack is what really caught my attention. Do you know the scene? They sing a duet called “Count Your Blessings,” and it goes like this:
When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting small I think of when I had none at all
and I fall asleep counting my blessings.
I think about a nursery,
and I picture curly heads,
and one by one I count them
as they slumber in their beds.
If you’re worried and you cant sleep,
just count your blessings instead of sheep
and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.
This song really resonated with me, and helped me to look outside of my own little problems and gain some perspective. Because it really is all about perspective isn’t it? Yes my husband has to go out of town a lot and yes this stage of parenting two small children is hard and yes I’m exhausted and yes it sucks going to bed alone. But I have a loving husband who works hard for his family and when he is here he is 100 percent here, and we have the privilege of raising these two perfect little creatures who we love more than life, in our beautiful little home in our beautiful little city and my God we are so lucky.
Ever since that night, I have tried this little exercise of counting my blessings as I drift off to sleep, and it truly helps. It helps me to be mindful, and present, and grateful, and just at peace. Most importantly, it helps me to be a happier person, which is what we are all striving to be, right?
The envelopes on our advent calendar are quickly dwindling down as I knew they would, and somehow only five remain to be opened. Five days until Christmas. Five perfect days where we can eat too many cookies and watch too many cheesy holiday movies and spend too many hours of the day in our pajamas, and just be together. With Kevin home for the holidays and it being the most wonderful time of the year and all, it’s really easy to be happy. But even when it gets harder, which it inevitably will, I’m hoping I can remember to count my blessings, because they are plentiful indeed.
Happy Holidays to you all, and may your blessings be too bountiful to count.
Photographs by Amanda Seifert Photography