Callum has been on antibiotics these past few days for an infected sty and has to take them four times a day on an empty stomach. I started the week thinking this was a nuisance because he grazes all the time; I'm ending it feeling really thankful that my children never have empty stomachs. I enjoy these gentle reminders of how lucky we are; learning at home is about so much more than academics.
I make a conscious effort to be thankful as often as I can because I hope the boys will follow this example and feel good about the life they lead. When we're on the beach I tell them how lucky I feel to live by the sea, and when we've had a lovely day with friends I say how thankful I am to have such great people around us. I only say it about things I'm genuinely thankful for, but once I consciously began I saw things to be thankful for everywhere! Choice is almost always involved in my 'luck' it seems to me, but being thankful makes it easier to see that! It's wonderful to have goals and ambitions, but its equally wonderful to look around at my life and appreciate everything as it is. I believe Its important to appreciate my children as they are right now too, without focussing on a fantasy ideal of how they will 'turn out'!
I sometimes find myself too easily taking things for granted. We were going away camping recently I had become annoyed with Ollie for his disorganisation in packing the equipment up and getting us to our destination! During our time away we were at a park watching the boys play and could overhear a dad talking to his daughter. They were chatting about how she would soon be going to 'big school' and he was asking her how she felt about it. I turned to Ollie and said "I can't believe we have a child old enough for school". He replied "We don't! That's why we're not sending him!" I felt so thankful for him in that moment and remembered how lucky I am to have a husband who is so totally supportive, and as dedicated to learning at home as I am. When I'm feeling thankful I'm able to let the little things go!
The world is so busy telling us we don't have enough and that we aren't enough as we are, and that's not what I want my children to internalise. I can't wrap them up in cotton wool and I wouldn't want to, but I hope that by setting an example of feeling positive about all that we have and all that we are, they will regard the world in a positive light and step out more confidently into it. I find that because I focus on what we have, anything we don't becomes largely irrelevant. I know that the sense of wellbeing I feel from the choice to be thankful will ripple across to my boys, and I hope this will be maintained by learning at home without a focus on how they are 'measuring up' against their peers, or government criteria that is irrelevant to their individual development. To be measured in this way feels like the start of a lifetime of feeling as though they are not 'up to scratch' or 'performing' well enough on the one hand, or having a fragile sense of self based on someone else's positive assessment of them on the other. I don't want them to think that's how they should 'assess' other people either. They are worth more than that and they are fine as they are; that's how I hope they will view themselves and the people around them...at least as a starting point :)
I'm not thankful in a ceremonial or religious way and there are moments when I feel pretty rubbish, but they are just moments, and I'm genuinely grateful for the life I lead. I tell the boys at least once every day how grateful I am to have them. I always know this inside, but it feels wonderful to say it out loud!
Its amazing what a bottle of antibiotics can make you think about if you are always open to learning!