Last night in the car one of the kids was talking about an idea they heard in their student group for the new year. Make a jar that you can place in a prominent-enough location that you won't forget about it. Write down the good things that happen to you. Take a moment in the evenings to do it. On your bad days, you can randomly read about and be reminded of the good in your life.
I love that idea. It is similar to daily gratitudes, but with a twist. My brain immediately went to parents who are working with struggling kids. I coach caregivers to journal in some way, any way, the positive moments they have with their children. This is extremely helpful, particularly in the early days of an adoption or when behaviors have escalated. The constant flow of negative and frustration feels like there is no good.
There is. There is good every day. And some days you even have moments of "Oh wow! Something happened right there. Something ... amazing!" But two days later, you are back in the thick of things and you forget. It all feels undone. If you have documented the good somewhere, you will have a picture. One that includes some sun and maybe an occasional rainbow.
No, really. Maybe. An actual rainbow.
Because the bad does not undo the good. I know from personal experience that the clouds tend to shift my feelings faster and it can last much longer than the good. So, I suggest that you journal if you're into that sort of thing. Or blog. Or if you are a Pinterest-y kind of person, you create a Jar-o-Good. If you're not so much with the Pinterest, just cut a hole in the top of a Folger's can lid.
Every night write a "good" on a slip of paper. It might be, "My kid got dressed without a battle." Yes. I know. The rest of the day was a constant fight, but even our children are sitting there thinking, "I did that one thing. No one has any idea how hard that was for me!" Well, you noticed. And you wrote it down.
Other days it might be one of the rainbow days: "My kid showed genuine empathy for a friend," or "I got a spontaneous hug in an appropriate moment and it felt really good to receive it," or "He felt himself escalating and he did some breathing with me to help calm him," or "My child said, 'I'm sorry I said those mean things, Mama. What can I do to put love back into you?'" Those are rainbow days. Seeing the development of empathy, cause-and-effect thinking or an improvement in impulse control. Rainbows and sunshine.
And because healing is slow and not a straight line, other days you might write: "My child came to tell me goodnight after they brushed their teeth and I could actually smell yummy breath!" Yes. A moment of self-care. Maybe the rest of the day felt like HELL, but your child did have a moment they took care of their own body and showed themselves some love. They could've used brushing teeth to try to get you to engage. They've done that before. But that day ... their teeth received some love. Write that sucker down.
Healing and miracles are in the little things we constantly forget or overlook.
On the dark, gloomy, thick days open up that jar. Read a few goods. Remember the goods. They happened. They have not been erased. Yes, it feels awful. It feels pointless. But the little bits of good are real and they are healing, and they happen every single day.
Let that jar (or your journal/blog/whatever) remind you. As often as you need it. We're doing very hard things.
"The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It's our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows." - Brené Brown