Search
Follow Kveller

You are browsing the archive for gratitude.

Nov 26 2014

How 16 Weeks of Bed Rest Taught Me to Ask for Help–And Be Grateful When it Comes

By at 1:45 pm

How 16 Weeks of Bed Rest Taught Me to Ask for Help

My son turns 8 years old this Thanksgiving Day. The last time his birthday fell on Thanksgiving was when he turned 2. I wasn’t with him that day. I didn’t get to see him blow out the candles on his slice of pumpkin pie. I didn’t get to sing “Happy Birthday” to him and I wasn’t there for his birthday party.*

Instead, on that day, I was in the hospital, taking care of my daughter. The funny thing is that I hadn’t even met her yet. Nobody had. I didn’t even know she was a she. I was about 22 weeks pregnant and we were already fighting with one another. I was fighting to keep her in and she was fighting to get out. Little did I know that I was about to spend the next 16 weeks flat on my back in a high risk pregnancy unit.

About two weeks earlier, I was going about my business taking care of a toddler and teaching my students how to read, when I was diagnosed with incompetent cervix. The situation was so dire that I was immediately sent to the hospital and the doctors didn’t know what the outcome would be. Ultimately, I had to undergo an emergency cerclage procedure. It was a scary and uncertain time, but now, six years later, I continue to be thankful for what I have and for what I didn’t know I had at the time. Read the rest of this entry →

The New Tradition I’m Extra Thankful for This Year

By at 11:17 am

gratitude jar

Sukkot may be the holiday when I de-clutter and get things out of my life, but on Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, I make sure to pay attention to my stuff.

We are at the start of the season when every store, television commercial, and radio jingle reminds us that we are supposed to let other people know how much we appreciate them… by buying them things. I’m not against the occasional Hanukkah present for my kids or tipping some of the hardworking and often underappreciated people in my life during the holiday season, but this year I am trying to focus on what I have and appreciating how lucky I am before I add to my collection of “things.” And I’m making my family join me.

I read recently that writing down what you’re grateful for every day can be transformative. In addition to cultivating an ongoing sense of gratitude and respect for our belongings and privileges, apparently the practice of putting pen to paper while thinking of how grateful we are can also lead to higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism, and energy throughout the day. That sounds pretty good to me. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 9 2014

Thanks to the Random Stranger Who Was Kind to My Kid

By at 11:17 am

Toddler boy eating french fries

I live in New Jersey and work in New York, where–let’s face it–people aren’t always friendly and nice. Sure, there are exceptions, but at this point I’ve grown rather cynical when it comes to relying on the decency of strangers. It especially irks me when people are jerks to my kid.

Case in point: I recently had to stop at the supermarket with my toddler on a very rainy day. Though the 90-second walk through the parking lot normally isn’t a big deal, it happened to start pouring rain the second we got there, and I was eager to keep my son as dry as possible, knowing that the arctic blast of the store’s AC system is often unbearable even when you’re not entering soaked. So there I was, walking briskly from my car to the store holding my (not-at-all lightweight) toddler when not one, not two, but three separate drivers decided to cut me off, forcing me to stand in the rain even longer. In dry weather, that sort of behavior is simply discourteous. In pouring rain, it’s downright mean, and more so to my toddler than to me.

Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing I’ve grown accustomed to over the years. But last weekend I had an experience that restored my faith in humanity, just a little bit. My husband, toddler, and I had gone out hiking, and though we almost always eat dinner at home, we decided we were tired and would rather stop at a local restaurant instead. We walked in around 5:30 p.m., expecting to be seated right away, and were surprised when we were told that the wait would be 20-30 minutes. We knew our son was hungry, but at that point it would’ve taken us longer to drive home and get dinner going, so we decided to bide our time in the cramped waiting area. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 8 2014

Tell Your Friends #WhatILikeAboutYou

By at 10:03 am

tell a friend #whatilikeaboutyou

“Let’s start 2014 with happiness. If you ‘like’ this, I’ll write something that I find beautiful about you!”

I saw a status message in this vein on a friend’s Facebook page. I clicked “like”–more to convey that I “liked” that she was doing such a nice thing, rather than “like” as in, “Send me a compliment ASAP.”

Perhaps fortunately, Facebook’s “likes” are not so nuanced. So I got a compliment from her. It made me feel warm, fuzzy, and appreciated. And so I decided, you know what? I’ll do this too.

I posted this as my status message. The “likes” started pouring in. And whether they “liked” it because of my intention or because they wanted to see what I’d say about them, I decided I was going to write something for each one of them.

I won’t lie–it was time-consuming. I wrote on my phone with one finger as I put my 14-month-old down for her nap. I wrote between dot painting projects with my 2-year-old. I wrote in the glider, the baby asleep on my lap. I wrote in the carpool pickup line (car in park, don’t worry). Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 9 2013

Getting Over My “Not Enough” Syndrome

By at 2:03 pm

shutterstock_99633347

“Please God, help me sleep!” That was my prayer, my urgent plea, while lying in bed wide awake three days after the birth of my son. I was beyond exhausted and I knew I only had a short window before I’d have to wake up again to feed him. My baby boy had just fallen asleep after his middle of the night feeding, and I desperately wanted to fall back asleep before he woke up again. My body ached with exhaustion and the pains of a still-healing episiotomy.

The problem was, I was wide awake. And in this state of being wide awake, I found myself contemplating the worthiness of bothering God with my desperate plea to sleep. I’ve asked for, and received, a lot of things over the years, big and small: a good job; a husband; a short line at the airport so I don’t miss my connecting flight; warm weather for my week of holidays. I had prayed like crazy for a child. At the age of 38, there was no way I took for granted a healthy pregnancy and now, the arrival of a healthy, eight pound baby boy.

I admit that over the years I have suffered from what I like to call the “not enough” syndrome. I’m not pretty enough; I’m not talented enough; I’m not ambitious enough; I’m not spontaneous enough; I don’t earn enough. There are even competing “not enough’s” such as: I don’t work hard enough and I don’t spend enough time with my family. I relate to this as a syndrome that disproportionately affects Jews, kind of like lactose intolerance (yes, I am lactose intolerant) although I’m sure we Jews haven’t cornered the market on feelings of inadequacy (or on lactose intolerance, for that matter). Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 19 2013

Forget Thanksgivukkah–I’m Dealing with Birthdaykah

By at 11:49 am

birthday

Over the past several weeks, my inbox and newsfeed have been filled with various reminders that we are approaching a once-in-70,000-years event: the overlap of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, endearingly named Thanksgivukkah. While I am very much looking forward to cranberry-sauce-stuffed latkes and turkey menorahs, I am having misgivings about another far less public overlap that will be happening in my home this year; that of Hanukkah and my son’s birthday.

I am excited to celebrate both of these happy occasions, but am a little nervous about what will happen with gift-giving squared. Don’t get me wrong; I relish seeing the happiness in my children’s faces when they rip open wrapping paper to find the items that have been topping their wish-list. Yet, I also find that there is an inverse relationship (and I thought I would never again use high-school math) between the number of gifts they receive and their level of appreciation.

I am sure that I cannot be the only mother (at least I hope I am not the only one) who has had a child open a gift in front of the giver and blurt out a particularly inappropriate remark. Something along the lines of, “Is that all?” or, “That’s not the one I wanted,” or, “But my brother’s present is better,” or a similar comment that makes you want to invent a machine that would filter your children’s thoughts somewhere between their brains and their mouths. Read the rest of this entry →

May 30 2013

Maybe Thank You Cards Aren’t So Bad After All

By at 2:10 pm

cara paiuk twinsAlmost two years ago, I wrote about my disdain for writing thank you cards, and I still have an issue with the premise that thank you cards should be required or expected. Are we not supposed to give a gift, do a favor, or extend a kindness without an expectation of receiving something in return? Do we need the thank you card construct to make us feel good? Rewarded? Acknowledged?

To this day I resent my family for forcing me to write engagement, wedding, and baby shower thank you cards. I especially resent the pressure to churn out thank you cards 24 hours after receiving gifts from people I hardly knew when I was a new mother who couldn’t find time to shower or eat. It just made me regret receiving the gifts in the first place! Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 21 2012

How Do You Teach Thanksgiving to Kids?

By at 3:12 pm

I can remember as a teenager sitting around the Thanksgiving table and being asked to say what I was grateful for.

I rolled my eyes in protest of such a trivial exercise and rattled off a list of things I thought I was supposed to be grateful for: my family, my health, food, and shelter. And then I waited for my brothers to spout off things like farting and Nintendo before we could eat. At that time in my life I was selfish and entitled. Nothing was ever enough, teenage angst prevailed, and happiness always felt just out of reach.

Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 5 2012

My Jewish Guilt from Hurricane Sandy

By at 9:33 am

running showerLast Thursday, I took a shower that easily ranks among the top five best showers of my entire life. Maybe even the top three. The water was hot. And there was plenty of it.

Contrary to my habit of short showers, instilled at Jewish summer camp during the California water crisis of my youth, I reposed in the steamy Nirvana for something just shy of an eternity. And at its conclusion, I had an urge to put it up as my Facebook status; an urge that I quelled, choosing instead to remain silent about my newly-restored electricity.

Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 28 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Gratitude

By at 3:27 pm

"Are you Irish?"

I’ve been spending a lot of time feeling grateful lately, and not just because I’m still enjoying the leftovers from Thanksgiving. My baby girl got croupy (again) on Thursday night, and we ended up back in the emergency room. Sure, I was thankful for the excellent medical care we got, but one interaction I had in the hospital reminded me of just how lucky my family and I are in other ways as well.

The respiratory therapist who came to give my daughter a nebulizer treatment saw her name (Rose) and asked if we were Irish. In a rare moment of self-restraint, I didn’t point out that our last name is Naumburg (not O’Naumburg or McNaumburg), but I did mention that we’re Jewish.

“Ohhh! That’s so cool! I totally have a Jewish friend!” And with that announcement, that nice young respiratory therapist proceeded to goo and gaa at Rosie, all the while talking to her about Hannukah and latkes and apple sauce. I managed to ignore the Jewish friend comment until she finished my daughter’s treatment and wished us “Salaam Aleikum”—a traditional Muslim greeting meaning “peace be with you”.

She was serious. She didn’t know the difference.

All of a sudden I flashed back to my childhood in New Mexico, when I was given ashes on my forehead for Ash Wednesday by my public school teacher. (The possibility that we weren’t Christian was never considered; neither was the separation of church and state, apparently.) I was reminded of the time in college when our dining hall was decorated for Passover with glorious pyramids of freshly baked challah. And I remembered a conversation just last week with a new babysitter. Although we had specifically looked for one who wasn’t Jewish (our previous babysitter was a Rabbi’s daughter, and thus unavailable for Kol Nidrei or Erev Shabbat services), I wasn’t prepared for her complete lack of knowledge of anything Jewish. (Although she was quite eager to learn about “our Sabbath”, as she was interested in some nice young Jewish boy.)

As I sat in that hospital bed, holding my daughter, I couldn’t help but think that I am actually part of the 1%; Jews make up approximately 1.7% of the population of the United States, and just 0.2% of the population of the world. I have lived in a suburb of Boston for over a decade, and as such, I’ve been sheltered, and incredibly lucky. We live within a 30-minute drive of several synagogues, Jewish day schools and preschools, and Judaica shops. The public schools in our town are closed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We can buy Shabbat candles at our local grocery store, and which bakery makes the best challah is a matter of hot debate in our community. I write for an amazing online magazine where I can make reference to Yom Kippur, and none of my readers accuse me of making up a holiday just to get out of an exam (and yes, that’s a true story).

I live in a happy little Jewish bubble, and when it gets burst, I notice it, and it reminds me of just how fortunate my family and I are to have such an amazing Jewish community—both in real life, and online.

Tags

Recently on Mayim

Blogroll