An Attitude of Gratitude

The last time I wrote, I reflected that a bad day doesn’t have to turn into a bad week.

But sometimes it does.

And sometimes one bad week turns into another.

I’ve been having a tough time lately, and I wish I had a more insightful or eloquent way of saying that. But one of the things I’m striving for in my writing is honesty, and if I’m being honest, the last few weeks have been almost as hard as last summer was.

The medication changes I referenced in my last post turned out to be more substantial than I thought. The withdrawal symptoms from going off the medication were delayed, and brought some severe depression with them.

I’ve been avoiding writing: partially because my brain has been so fuzzy that I couldn’t really conceive of writing a coherent post. Partially because my self concept has been so low that I couldn’t imagine writing anything that anyone else would want to read.

And partially because depression is self-sabotaging. I knew that writing, like exercise and healthy eating, would make me feel better, and my brain preferred to stay soaked in its own despair.

Last year, I was able to use writing as a strategy for coming out of my depression. I kept a gratitude journal– a recommendation from my IOP. I wrote out the things I was grateful for each day to train my brain to recognize those things instead of focusing on the bad ones.

The act of identifying things to be grateful for was helpful, and if you’d asked me at the time I would have said that I was managing to stay positive in my writing. But when I went back and looked at my gratitude journal tonight to see if it would lift my spirits or give me fond memories, it was very obvious that I was a depressed person trying to write about positive things.

I wished I’d written more detail about the things that were positive: in particular about Bailey, and all of the wonderful ways she was growing.

But instead of critiquing my past self for not being grateful enough, I’m here to write a gratitude post. In the hopes that it will lift my spirits. In the hopes that the next time I need to feel better, I can look back at it and remember the vividness of the positives, even when I was struggling.

I am so grateful for Bailey. Every day I can see the ways that she recognizes the world around her a little bit more.

“More” is actually the first recognizable word she’s used (besides Da Da, which only half counts because she uses it to refer to both Matt and the dog).

It started as the “more” sign, except that she kept one palm open while she did it. As my dad pointed out, it looked like she was calling for a time out. Just in the past week, she’s started painstakingly pursing her lips together while she makes the sign, with an exaggerated “mmmmmmore?”

It took me by surprise how, even though she babbles constantly, hearing her say a real word made me see her differently. I didn’t know before what her speaking voice would sound like, and now that I do I can picture her having a real conversation with me some day. With one little word it’s like a little person emerged where a baby used to be.

Her most defining personality trait, as confirmed by everyone she’s ever met, is how she never stops smiling.

Her second most defining personality trait is how she never stops eating blueberries. The girl has legitimately blue poop.

If you say, “Oh my goodness,” she will put both hands on top of her head, regardless of whether or not she’s holding a grilled cheese. When you laugh at her greasy, crumb-filled scalp she’ll do it over and over again, until she looks like a baby John Travolta.

She loves to be outside, and doesn’t understand why you won’t respond to her gestures at the sliding glass door when it’s raining.

She is generous and will try to feed all her dinner to the dog.

She is sneaky and will find her way around any barrier you try to put between her and danger.

But she’s also careful. I tried for so long to keep her away from the little half step at the entrance to our family room, constructing barriers out of rocking chairs and baby gates and toy boxes. But when I gave up and trusted her, she practiced methodically stepping off the ledge with one hand on the wall until she was comfortable enough to let go and step down on her own. I still clap for her every time she does it, and she still looks at me proudly and expectantly every time.

She is a people pleaser. She hates being told, “No,” and will burst into tears with an intensity reserved for that specific situation when you correct her. Of course, she loves telling other people no, shaking her head emphatically and waving her hands in front of her face for dramatic effect when she doesn’t want something.

She loves having her teeth brushed, though I need to rush to get the toothbrush in her mouth before she grabs the gob of toothpaste off the toothbrush.

She has no time for reading books (or cuddling). For our bedtime story, I have to try frantically to read random words off the pages before she turns them.

She loves to play with any form of paper, and tried to add a used envelope to the wall where we hang her paintings from daycare.

She will, without fail, take her shoes off every time she’s in the car seat.

She has a coy little smile she’ll give you when she’s just woken up, as though you caught her doing something she wasn’t supposed to do.

She likes to collect leaves off the bush next to our deck and put them in a pile in Matt’s hand.

She loves her toy accordion.

She twerks when you change her diaper.

She stomps her feet when she’s excited.

She leads with her belly when she runs.

She is my daughter.

I’m grateful for every time I get to say those words.

Thanks for reading,


33 miles