Ungratefulness creeps in pretty silently. It masks itself as a helpful critic, one who sees quickly how things might be changed or improved, rather than finding joy and thankfulness for the way things are.
I needed a new discipline. I needed to change my thinking.
I bought a new journal, and I began to write down something each day. Something to be thankful for. I chose one particular genre: Robb.
For two years, I wrote something each day. I claimed something to be thankful for, a reason to smile over him. This discipline proved especially effective and particularly challenging during our rough days of disconnectedness, our harder seasons of living parallel instead of unified.
I began writing, one page at a time, until it was complete. I'll share a few excerpts with you...
- July 15, 2008: I am thankful for Robb's playfulness, for the joy he brings to our home.
- August 19, 2008: I taught the preschool class at church this morning. Robb helped get Tuck and Ty settled in their nurseries, and then he came to my classroom when a little boy needed to use the restroom and I couldn't leave. So thoughful.
- August 26, 2008: We are trying to potty train Tucker. To help Tuck feel confident in the process, Daddy declared a No Pants Night. All the boys: pants off. He makes me laugh.
- September 16, 2008: Tuck is in the hospital. Robb came home early from his business trip to take care of us.
- November 12, 2008: Robb is out of town. I am thankful for his encouraging phone calls and texts. He helps me to remember that he remembers.
- November 24, 2008: I am thankful for Robb's delight in Christmas. He starts decorating shortly after Halloween.
- January 8, 2009: Robb brought flowers to me this week. And before that bouquet died, he brought me another one. Twice. In one week.
- March 16, 2009: I am sick in bed. Robb brought me a drink and told me he 'misses his favorite friend.'
- July 12, 2009: Surprise! Robb planned a huge party for my 30th birthday. Total surprise. I feel loved and celebrated. Abundantly.
- August 8, 2009: Robb is helping Tuck learn to swim.
- September 12, 2009: I am thankful Robb does Bath Night.
- October 1, 2009: We have each had a horrendous day. Robb is buying ice cream at DQ. Quiet date for us: TV and ice cream. No little boys allowed.
- October 31, 2009: We have a Superman and a Dragon for Halloween. I am thankful for Robb's fun spirit for great traditions.
- November 15, 2009: I am driving to Arkansas today. Robb shoveled the driveway before he left for his business trip. All before 6 AM.
- December 16, 2009: Robb folded all the laundry tonight. Loads and loads.
- February 13, 2010: On our flight to Chicago, Robb let me sit across the aisle. By myself. I read, while he managed the flight with two little boys. What a husband.
- February 23, 2010: Tonight as we climbed in to bed, Robb teased, "I do everything around here. You never notice." I can't wait to give him this proof: I notice.
- March 6, 2010: I am thankful that Robb is supportive of my writing. In every way.
- March 12, 2010: He is laughing with our sons as they throw a stuffed chicken around the living room. I am thankful for a partner in raising these two precious little guys.
- April 6, 2010: I love when Robb lets me read to him. Even though he hates books.
- May 3, 2010: I love that I married a leader.
- May 10, 2010: Mother's Day was a pure gift. I am thankful to be appreciated, to be married to a man who celebrates me.
- May 29, 2010: My brother is in town. I am thankful for the friendship between these two cherished men in my life. Together, they love me well.
- June 22, 2010: He is sitting on the deck, teaching the boys to each push-up popsicles. I love this man.
- June 24, 2010: Tonight after dinner, Tyler wanted a red popsicle, then a blue one, then a green one, then, no, a red one finally. Tucker wanted a cookie. No, a popsicle. Robb complied with all of their indecisiveness. Quietly returning to the garage freezer, again and again.
- July 3, 2010: He makes me feel beautiful. Even on a camping trip.
- July 9, 2010: We leave for Mexico in the morning. I am thankful to run away with this man. Happy Ten Years To Us.
I wrapped the journal with glittery paper and wire-edged ribbon. I gave it to him in Mexico, on our second honeymoon. He sat down in a cushy chair in our hotel suite and read it all in one sitting. (Even though he hates books.)
If I had waited six months longer, he never would have known. He never would have seen my words, known that I noticed. I gave it to him just in time.
This weekend, as I sorted through his many things, I found it.
And now it's mine again, to keep forever.