Do you know the song “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” from the movie White Christmas? The lyrics popped into my head last week as I lay on the floor of my daughter’s room next to her crib holding her hand. The poor girl had a nasty case of hand-foot-and-mouth disease and the accompanying fever kept her up in a crying rage all night.
The song came to me when I needed it the most. The week had already been bad. The family photo shoot we had scheduled a long time ago was a complete bust as our girl didn’t smile once the entire session (we didn’t know she was sick at the time). One of our cars was having issues and the dog managed to puke all over the carpet when the tiled bathroom floor was inches away – why do they always do that? I was in a “woe is me” mood and needed a reminder that although this night/day/week had been rough these problems are so minuut in the grand scheme of things.
I have been called a pessimist in the past (by my mother) but I don’t agree with this label. I feel I am a realist, preferring to plan for the worst and hope for the best. For me, it is so much worse if I believe something good is going to occur and then it doesn’t. I would much rather be happily surprised when a situation does work out for the best but at least I was prepared if it didn’t. But no one likes a Debbie Downer so I try to find a balance.
Here is the formula I use to help me count my blessings;
1. Accept that some things are out of my control.
In no way was the car being on the fritz my fault. Cars break down and need regular maintenance, these things happen.
2. Acknowledge that others are also not to blame.
My daughter is still a baby. She doesn’t understand why she feels horrible and thus can’t control how she expresses her distress. It is not as if she was keeping me up all night on purpose.
3. Consciously list my blessings starting with something very small (or even silly) and working up incrementally to more worldly concepts. This list can be as long as you need it to be.
– I am grateful for air conditioning.
– I am thankful to have the option to stay home and take care of our sick child.
– I am relieved the pediatrician was able to see us so quickly.
– I have food, shelter, and medical insurance.
– I am blessed with a daughter – enough said!
4. Keep in mind – this too shall pass.
Everything will get better with time and these sleepless nights will be a thing of the past (at least until the new baby arrives in a couple months).
I am blessed with so much. But the next time our dog vomits on the carpet I may need to sing the song “Count Your Blessings” to remind myself that in the end – dog puke just doesn’t matter.