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I had a wonderfully productive weekend checking many things off my list. I always love going to bed on Sunday night, feeling like everything is in order. This was a particularly exciting Sunday night because Monday was a day off, which meant no 5 AM alarm. I went to bed in my newly laundered sheets and blankets. I smelled the fresh scent of the soap and sank into the coziness of my comforter. It was a delightful way to go to bed on a Sunday night, and I slept so well until 1 AM when my youngest woke me up by getting sick in my bed.

Particular sounds make me bolt out of bed like our dog barking in the middle of the night, thunder and lightning storms directly over our house, and a retching sound coming from one of my children. Within a matter of seconds, I need to wake out of a deep sleep, orient myself and assess the situation. I can generally swoop my children up and run them to the bathroom before any damage occurs, but this was not the case on Sunday. I turned to my youngest to see her move her hand away from her mouth, and the inevitable occurs all over my newly laundered sheets, comforter, and blankets. She was smack dab in the center of my bed, so I angled myself as best as I could to pick her up and get her to the bathroom. The second round came quickly and furiously as I rubbed her back and held her hair. I reassured her that she was doing great, and I was here right with her.

Once she finished throwing up, she disrobed and got in a hot shower. I was hoping this would help her body calm and relax. Exhausted and trying desperately not to breathe too deeply for fear that the smell would make me sick, I rinsed our clothes, sheets, blankets, and my comforter. I loaded things into the washer and put new sheets on the bed. Shortly after that, both wearing new pajamas, we climbed back into my bed and settled in. These sheets and blankets didn’t smell or feel the way the earlier set had. I tossed and turned, worrying about more vomit and checking the clock. My inner dialogue was angry, irritated, and bitter. All I needed was a good night of sleep, and I couldn’t believe that this was happening. “This is always the way things go, sick kids just when I get a day off. Why do the kids always throw up at my house and never at their dad’s?” I was on my way down a deep, dark hole as I was having a pity party for myself when perspective reared its head with an epiphany “there are people in this world who don’t have washers and dryers in their dwellings.” This realization in the middle of my negative rant changed everything for me.

As I laid in bed, I thought about how grateful I was to have a washer and dryer, a second set of sheets, another comforter, and a blanket to wrap up in to go back to sleep. I thought about how fortunate I was that my child got sick at my house because it gave me a chance to care for her and show her my love. We as humans are so vulnerable when we are sick, and I was so grateful that I could care for my youngest during this moment. I got to surround her with my love and rub her back with gentle reassurance. This gratitude wrapped warmly around me, and my newfound appreciation allowed me to settle into my bed and sleep soundly.

Message to my daughters: Life doesn’t always work out the way you plan. You have a choice with how you view your situation. You can choose to focus on the negative and embrace a “poor me” attitude, or you can look at the silver lining and see a different perspective. Practicing gratitude during your highs and lows is a great way to continue to appreciate all that life has to offer you.

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