Finding the Positive Moments

Child's artwork, "Sorry you had a bad day, Daddy"

Artwork by “Ladybug”, my daughter, Age 11.

It’s a cliché to say that parenting is hard, but clichés are clichés for a reason: they’re often true. Most parents, if they’re being completely honest, will tell you that sometimes life is so stressful directly because of issues that arise with their kids. Not that parents have more stress than parents without kids — we don’t — but we’ve got the challenge of dealing with our stress while parenting, sometimes with added stress caused by the behaviors of our children.

It’s easy, quite easy, to feel overwhelmed and to feel like the negativity is what defines that moment. How are we to be fully present, parenting the way we want to parent — each according to our own beliefs in what that means, exactly — when life at the moment seems miserable on some level? The challenge for us all is to increase the number of moments where we give more attention to the roses blooming, and not the thorns that accompany them.

This doesn’t mean that you’re ignoring the parts of your life that are crappy — an ostrich you are not — but that you don’t define your life by those parts. Well, as much as you can, anyway, because let’s be honest: we’re human and humans are full of pesky feelings.

When elements of your life are not going well, it is important to be mindful, so that you can take action. Your problems won’t (always) disappear through inaction or by ignoring the issues. Yet most of us have a habit — and it’s not a good habit to have — of forgetting to take notice of the good parts of life when we most need to take notice. You’re having a awful day, and all you can think about is your awful day. You’ve defined the day as a miserable one, not paying mind to the scattering of little moments that actually were good, if not great. You’ve become Alexander, having your terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day; you’ve forgotten to smell those roses because you’re annoyed that thorns have gotten in your way.

We can always work on practicing our awareness of the positive moments in life. We can always at least try to look for them, even as we work to resolve whatever it is that is frustrating us or stressing us out.

Here’s the beautiful part, which you know if you’ve thought a lot about the act of practicing anything: you’ll get better at this if you practice it.

We are so skilled at stressing because we practice it. Some of us have turned stress into a defining characteristic of our lives when it doesn’t need to be. I am guilty of this, without doubt, and I am working on changing my habits.

I’ve asked members of the Dad Bloggers Facebook group, of which I’m fortunate to be a member, if they could share a recent moment of something positive that happened in the midst of a stressful time. I think it does our hearts and minds some good to read these moments and then search for own. If we can practice this on a daily basis, perhaps we can be massively talented at finding these moments of positivity.

Here’s what other Dads had to share:

I was stuck at work late on a stressful day and on the phone with all 3 kids to say goodnight (it was bedlam) when I heard my 4 yr old daughter singing “I love you bestest in the whole entire world daddy. I really like you.” — Jack, Dadcapades

After taking the decision to place our 2 year old in the same room as our 3 year old AND move him from cot to bed at the same time, our eldest set the perfect example even telling his little brother to lay down, close his eyes and go to sleep. — Lewis, Dadwhoblogs

My son volunteered to come with me to visit our sick aunt, and he was very attentive and warm towards her. — Larry Bernstein, Me Myself and Kids

The moments when one of the twins stop playing, and come across the room to give me a hug! (Makes me tear up every time!) — Casey Boatman HardWorkinDad

My four year old did not make it to the potty in time at home and wet himself. I looked at him and calmly helped him take off the wet clothes. He hugged me with his little half naked body and said “I love you so much Daddy…thank you for not being upset at me.” — Cory Warren, Real IronDAD

I found a drawing in my son’s kindergarten journal, which featured himself, myself, and under it, read, “He is my dad.” I asked him what the drawing meant, and he replied, “I was asked to draw my favorite superhero.” The picture is now tattooed on my right arm. — Josh Misner, Mindful Dad

This is HARD! Just to clarify, J Parrish Lewis, finding something positive is as easy as looking across the room at a sofaful of reading boys, but. uh… have you seen my sentences? — Bill Peebles, ihopeiwinatoaster

I told my oldest two kids that Mom was pregnant, and even though they’re not thrilled about another baby, they each added the safety and well being of Mommy and the Little Lentil Bean to their bedtime prayers. — Christian Lee, PlaidDadBlog

One morning we were running late, and I asked my 5-year-old to pick up his toys before he left for preschool. I ran around doing other stuff, then came back not expecting it to be clean and prepared to sternly remind him. He was standing in the middle of the room, hands on his hips, and said “Look Daddy, it’s clean as a whistle!” I was so proud I almost cried.  — Brent Almond, Designer Daddy

No matter how bad my day is, when I walk in the door and they react like I’m the greatest person in the world it makes everything else disappear. — John Wahl, Mega Dads

We’ve struggled with our daughter’s behavior at school for quite some time. She came running up to me last night so very excited to tell me that she was the Leader of the Month for her grade. This is a great thing and a wonderful milestone for her. — Tom McMillen-Oakley, Jesus Has 2 Daddies

My family recently relocated and it’s been hard on us. I’m a stay at home dad and after a long day of battling each other, my three year old son walked over to me, put his arm on my shoulder, and said, “It’ll be okay daddy.” That’s instant gratification.” — Dan Buffa, Dose of Buffa

If you’re currently having a hard time, and you struggle to find those moments in your life, you might be feeling it’s not within your ability to do this. It’s my personal belief that this is something worth practicing. Even if we have days where we cannot think of those moments no matter how hard we try, if we work on making it a daily habit to try, it’ll get easier. If we’re lucky, one day it’ll become an automatic habit to take note of these moments as they arise.

We have more moments of happiness to gain with such a habit. Isn’t that worth the attempt?


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