In the last post, many of you resonated with the struggle of insecurity. Especially the idea of fighting your inner Mean Girl’s voice. Today’s guest post, written by a dear friend and fellow mom of special needs kids, gives us the first tool in our arsenal to do just that. Enjoy this story – and great take-away – from my friend Jennifer Janes!
This is NOT a Potty Party!
by Jennifer A. Janes
It’s hard to believe that my little girl – equally obsessed with the color pink and all things princess – is as fascinated with potty talk as she is. Inevitably, she wants to discuss this preoccupation at the dinner table—or during some other equally inappropriate family activity. If we let it go on for too long, she’s really hard to stop.
My husband often tells her: “This is not a potty party.” Sometimes that statement works. More often it doesn’t. The thing is, though, that my thoughts are the same way.
Most of the time I do okay with my life and trying to balance everything— homeschooling, the struggles that come with my daughter’s disabilities, and managing her older sister’s emotional needs when life is full of specialist appointments, therapy sessions, and doctor visits which she often must attend too.
Then there’s the added challenge of trying to keep myself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally healthy, and maintain a great relationship with my husband. It’s not easy, and sometimes I struggle.
I think things like “My life is so hard. No one knows how hard it really is.” Or “I’m so lonely. Does anyone care about me?”
Those thoughts are potty talk, plain and simple. They’re unproductive. And they don’t lead to great family nights or friendships either!
It has taken a while, but I’m doing better at avoiding “potty parties” in my thought life now. The transformation began with a gratitude journal I started in the summer of 2010. I began by listing five things a day.
Then I started reading Ann Voskamp’s blog and decided to start counting my Gifts in weekly blog posts. I reached 1,000 and kept going. It has changed my life.
But I didn’t realize how much until Christmas Day 2010. Right after we opened gifts, my daughter came down with a stomach bug. Because of her GI issues, that is bad news. She was sick all day, and we ended up in the ER that evening. In the past, I would have considered our Christmas ruined. Because of my focus on gratitude, however, I found myself sitting in the ER that night with a child who was so sick she couldn’t remember what gifts she’d received that morning, thinking of all the good things about the situation.
Things like . . . the chance to open gifts together before she got sick, being together as a family most of the day before heading to the ER, friends who welcomed our older daughter into the midst of their family activities so my husband could go to the hospital with us, a gift that allowed us to head to the hospital without money worries, and the assurance that with fluids and gut rest, our daughter would recover.
Was that the best Christmas Day we’ve ever had? No, but it certainly could have been much worse. Learning to see the smallest blessings in every situation made all the difference. I have as much or more to be thankful for today as I did then. Turning my “potty parties” into “positive parties” has changed my life and my relationships.
For you to ponder: How do you turn your negative thinking around so that you—and your relationships—can stay healthy?
Jennifer lives in Arkansas with her husband of ten years, two beautiful daughters, two cats, and two pet mice. Her younger daughter’s special needs have made her life more of an adventure than she ever anticipated, but she’s finally learning to relax and “embrace the crazy.” Jennifer blogs at her own site and is a regular contributor at The Homeschool Village and the Home Educating Family blog. She’s speaking alongside Heather Laurie about special needs homeschooling at The 2:1 Conference in April 2012.
Thanks so much Jennifer! It’s amazing how our own self-talk can make life, relationships, and how we feel about ourselves so much better… or so much worse. Here’s to hitting our inner Mean Girls right between the eyes as we live in gratitude!