I recently learned about the #GratitudeChallenge and I eagerly signed up when the invitation came to my inbox. What’s not to love about putting some extra energy toward gratitude? I received the daily email prompts and tried to give some thought to each exercise. Unfortunately, the timing just wasn’t great.
I am generally a very sunny, positive person. I am a soldier of God and I am fueled by the Lord. I give thanks daily for the abundance of blessings I have received. I love my life – I have a wonderful family, great friends, and a career I’m passionate about. In recent years, I have found gratitude to be an essential part of my everyday existence. But I’ll be honest, some days are harder than others and during the time of the #GratitudeChallenge it was particularly tough.
Being the parent of a special needs child is no joke. My 9-year old daughter, Emily, has autism and is severely developmentally delayed. Her capabilities are about those of a toddler. Every day is a struggle and things have been difficult lately. The not knowing how she is going to be each day. The constant repeating of the same phrases over and over again. The constant daily care she requires. The waking up in the middle of the night (every night) and coming into our room. It’s exhausting. And it is emotionally draining for me. I am saddened by our situation – she didn’t ask for this and it’s not her fault. I just wish she could be ‘normal’ and have a typical life like every other kid. I wish we could have a normal, typical life.
Day 10 of the #GratitudeChallenge came on a Monday after a particularly challenging weekend. Emily absolutely hates shopping and it’s very difficult to take her to stores; however, school was quickly approaching, and the child needed new shoes. We knew what we were getting ourselves into. Needless to say, those two days were horrible and by Monday, I was struggling to find the desire to focus on gratitude.
I found solace in connecting with my #HRTribe and #HRPals on Twitter. Turns out, some others were also struggling and that made me feel less alone. I also had a wonderful experience that week with my oldest daughter, Avery – we saw REO Speedwagon at the Ohio State Fair (6 years since the first time we went!) and had a great time. It helped to remind me that I have so much to be thankful for. I was able to finish the challenge with gusto.
There are highs and lows in this parenting journey. Sometimes I feel guilty during the lows – others have it so much worse than I do, how dare I feel down about my situation? But I’m human and I know that I need to let myself work through the various emotions. I pray for strength and peace; while I may not understand the ‘why’ behind this situation, I do know there is a reason and I pray for the courage to carry out this duty to the best of my ability.
Gratitude is coming much easier this week – school is back in session!!