Cultivating Gratitude

Yesterday Maya and I spent the morning on top of Grouse Mountain in the North Shore. It was foggy in the city but when we reached the top of the mountain the sky was a magnificent blue and the sun was beaming. It was glorious. The North Shore spends much of the winter under every possible type of rain imaginable. I have always said that people who live here develop a type of episodic amnesia, similar to what women experience after child birth. The type of amnesia that helps women forget the pain of giving birth so that they will actually contemplate going through it all again. Here, it can rain for months straight. It is truly a miserable existence. But every now and then you will have a brilliant sunny day and it erases the collective memories of all of those rain filled days.

I love going to Grouse with Maya. She loves playing in the snow. The benefit of living in the North Shore is that if you want snow, it is a mere 10 minute drive away. Previous to this trip we had gone to Mountain Equipment Co-op to use some of Grandma Sue’s Christmas money to purchase better winter clothing for Maya. The last few times we had gone to Grouse it had started well, but ended in tears. Her feet were cold. The tears turned to wails. “I want a hot dog!!” “Maya mommy has snacks for us. We’re not having a hot dog.” “But I WANT a hot dog! That girl is having a hot dog and I want a hot dog mommy!!!” She sobbed as if it was the most devastating thing in the world. Then the screaming started. I did NOT want that happening again. So off we went to MEC to get her pink long underwear and a good pair of socks (purple of course). I bundled her up in layers upon layers of clothing, her new snow suit, and packed 3 extra pairs of mitts just in case.  It was so surprisingly warm that she didn’t even need a jacket or mitts.

To get to the top of Grouse in the winter you must take the Gondola. Maya loves it because the Gondola sways back and forth when it goes by two towers. It is just the perfect amount of scary to be fun. I have heard many people complain of how aloof Vancouverites are, but I have had lovely conversations every time I have taken that Gondola. It must be the mountain air. It makes everyone friendlier. On this trip I learned two things that had actually been on my mind: when the best time is to buy next year’s pass (from an Aussie) and whether the International French School is good (from a woman from Lebanon). My abnormally friendly encounters could also be as a result of me turning into my mother, who is possibly the friendliest woman alive. I am in awe of her ability to have a lovely chat with anyone within a three foot radius.

Maya and I made it to the top of the Gondola, had our breakfast of strawberries and hot chocolate, and then went outside to play. We had an amazing time. There were hardly any people there and therefore no line ups to take the sleigh. It was so relaxing I had to remind myself that we were not on vacation. We watched people ski and skate and go snow shoeing. Maya was fascinated by the snowmobiles. After explaining why she couldn’t slide down her bum all the way down a ski run, we took the sleigh back and she spent about an hour climbing up some snow steps to slide down a little hill. I sat on a bench to soak up the sun and watch her enjoy herself. Climb up, slide down, stand up and repeat 30 – 40 times. In the process of all of this sliding she made two new friends. One was a little girl Maya was convinced was a baby, but who was actually two years old. Maya took her hand to lead her up the stairs and show her how to slide down the hill. She cooed, “Here you go little baby. You just walk up the stairs like this. I will show you. Don’t worry.” Then she shouted at me “Mommy what’s this baby’s name?”

I love watching her make friends. The combination of her being an only child  and me working means that I don’t have a lot of opportunities to see her interact with other kids. Last week I had taken her to the Vancouver Aquarium. There was a volunteer reading a story to several children in the kids’ area. A little girl sat next to Maya and asked if she wanted to hold hands. Maya took her hand and looked up at me with a big smile on her face. She said excitedly, “Mommy I have a new friend!” It was so cute it almost broke my heart. You can tell who are the parents of only children. We get very invested in their friendships. When the story was finished, Maya and I went to leave. We passed by a man (the girl’s dad) who said to us “Did you see them hold hands? It was so adorable!” He looked a little teary and I totally understood.

This mornning was Maya’s fourth big girl swimming lesson. The last two didn’t start well. Both times Maya was cold and started to cry right before the lesson. She wouldn’t let go of my hand and wouldn’t go with the teacher. Luckily there was an assistant who took her both times (with the promise of toys). The last lesson, however, Maya’s tears were contagious and resulted in both boys in her class sobbing and refusing to go as well. So today Maya and I had a talk before the class. We talked about how to stay warm if she is cold, and how important it is for her to be brave, because if she cries the other little boys will cry too. But if she is brave the other little boys will be brave as well. When the lesson started she started to cry. She was cold, but this time there was no assistant to help. I could hear the voice in my head say “DON’T PANIC!! DON’T PANIC!!!!”. The voice was accompanied by a woman running around in circles, in complete panic. Not helpful! Her teacher then walked away with the two other boys and I was left with Maya by the side of the pool. I was out of ideas. The lure of wearing life jackets did not work. Luckily, she was intrigued enough by what the three of them were doing to brave the cold and walk towards them, her little shoulders all hunched up, shivering. In a few minutes she was smiling, and I let out a long breath. Who knew swimming lessons could be so tense??

As I write about our weekend, I realize how little time time I have with Maya. Two full days is not enough. I feel this pressure to ensure that every waking moment is amazing. But of course, that is impossible. I remind myself that every moment with her is precious, even the moment today where she was wailing and sobbing for no discernible reason (the real explanation being that Dave and I likely waited about 15 minutes too long to give her lunch and get her ready for a nap). It was in that moment that I was hugely relieved that my plan to wean her had not been fully realized. My super boobs worked, she had her num nums, calmed right down, and had a lovely nap (see Bye Bye Num Nums for the scoop on my attempts to wean).

I know that If I focus too much on the little time I have, it is an open invitation to my neuroses and guilt to wreak havoc in my life. To combat that, I have decided to spend some time cultivating gratitude, which, I have found, is an awesome antidote to many things including grief, anger, resentment and guilt. I’m sure there are others. Here are the things that I am grateful for tonight. I am grateful for this weekend with Maya and Dave. I am grateful for the sun that warmed my face for a few lovely hours. There are likely several million things I am grateful for, but for now, Imagethis is a good start.

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4 thoughts on “Cultivating Gratitude

  1. Hi Darlin, What a beautiful Blog!! I just loved reading it and it would do us all a great service if we would take it to heart and cultivate gratitude. We truly have so many blessings!! Lots of love from your Mumma XXX OOO

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