It was one of those days. The kind where the boys started fighting the moment they woke up. The kind of day where my mouth was open and moving but apparently without sound. How many times does a woman have to tell her children to put on their shoes so that they can go to school? It was the kind of day where the poking and pinching continued during the short drive to school, and my kindergartner refused to exit the van, muttering: “I’m not going to school today. I’m not going to school. I hate school. I hate it.” I had to pull out of the drop-off line, find a parking spot, and carry my still muttering boy inside.
The temperature was 48 degrees, and it was pouring rain. I checked my email relentlessly, hoping that the preschool apple-orchard field trip would be canceled. “Do you really want to go to the apple orchard today?” I asked.
My daughter replied with an enthusiastic: “Yes!”
I was grumpy about being cold.
As we drove away from home on our way to preschool, I found myself thinking about my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and thinking that maybe I should move to Australia.[i]
But then I remembered that it was the mom in the story who reminded Alexander that some days are just like that. Even in Australia.
And I remembered all of the times that I’ve told my eight-year-old son: “You choose how you respond to your circumstances. You choose whether you let them ruin your day or whether you will have a good day in spite of the disappointing stuff that happens.”
I realized that I needed to listen to Alexander’s mom. I also needed to listen to my son’s mom.
I decided to let go of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad. I decided to choose gratitude.
I decided to be thankful for the before-school Uno game with my kindergartner. For the nearness of my daughter on our bus ride to the apple orchard and for the sweet kisses she kept planting on my face. I gave thanks for the beauty of the grey sheets of rain softening the oranges, greens, and yellows of the autumn trees and nourishing those trees and next year’s apples. I gave thanks for the taste of fresh-pressed apple cider and thanks for the memories that sweet, clear taste evoked: memories of drinking freshly juiced apples picked from my oma and opa’s apple tree.
I am thankful for eyes opened to see beauty.
I am thankful for a peaceful heart, even on a tired, cold, rough and bumpy morning.
I am thankful for the words from my children’s book that gave me the kick in the pants that I needed that morning.
I am thankful for experiencing grace.
Sometimes we fall into grace, like it chooses us. But sometimes we have to open our eyes and choose to see the grace offered to us.
[i] Thank you to Judith Viorst for giving us Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and words that continue to resonate, even after all of these years.