Dear Kids: I’m Thankful for the Tough Stuff


~ Guest Post by Karen Gavreau ~

Thanksgiving is a reflective time filled with gratitude for blessings.

We bullet point the many good things we are grateful for.

Thankful for health. Thankful for children. Thankful for shelter. And on and on. That’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

But in the middle of the night, when my insomnia and inspiration collide, I start thinking about the tough things I am also thankful for as a Mom – the less obvious ones. The things they would never put in a Hallmark card.

Midnight quiet can bring clarity.

I recall this quote from Gary Thomas’ book, Devotions for Sacred Parenting:

“By God’s marvelous design, few life experiences humble us quite as effectively as parenting. …This tiny tyrant is providentially placed in our house with one grand program: to mold his or her parents into the image of our Lord. The way up spiritually, is by looking down physically.”

My four boys have gifted me with this molding, making me knocked-down, dusty, raw and blessed. Mostly blessed.

When we pause long enough to be thankful for the messy parts of our children.

This is for my man cubs on Thanksgiving and every day.

Dear Boys,

I am thankful for you. All of you. And for all of each of you, even your complicated bumpy parts.

I am thankful for your tantrums. They remind me to breathe deeply and calm my voice. They remind me I can handle them from a place of strength now, unlike years ago when my flame would ignite too quickly. They remind me I can change.

I am thankful for your teen words that keep me running to Google to stay current. And when I say an expression wrong or dare to move in a slight dancey motion, I’m thankful you eventually stop laughing at me.

I am thankful for your moodiness – it reminds me I can not control your happiness, nor should I try {sidenote: I still do}. I am thankful for this reminder of our separateness and the privilege of watching you push through disappointment and mess.

I am thankful for your questions, even the ones that come rapid-fire during the busy times.  It means you are thinking critically. It means you won’t settle for answers that don’t make sense. It also means I am nearby to hear you asking.

I am thankful for our opposite-ness. Life with you is a steady reminder of the many shades of personality. I am grateful your vibrancy adds life to my beige.

I am thankful for your get-up-and-go. I am reminded that the introverted way is not the only way. That many adventures, past and undiscovered, come from your restlessness when some of us want to sit still.

I am thankful for your slothful moments. They have taught me to enjoy the sound of my own naggy voice.  Just kidding – I’m not really thankful for this one. Pick up your socks already!

I am thankful for your sibling squabbles. They remind me of our humanity, our deep imperfection. And I am grateful you push through tension loudly instead of settling for empty quiet as brothers.

I am thankful for your selfishness as it reminds me of my own. It reflects our need to mature in perspective and to think not only of ourselves. And it challenges me to find ways to help us do both (like this idea).

I am thankful for your pushback. It makes me evaluate <why> from a new angle. Why can’t you charge your phone in your room at night? Why do we go to church every week? Why can’t you pee off our roof? I simply wouldn’t ponder these without you needing to debate and understand.

You are all so different which is obvious and profound. This tapestry is rich and ravelled.

I know I simply don’t say it enough but boys, but I am so, so thankful. Not only for your pleasing, tidy bits but for the messy bits that keep me on my knees and remind me that I can not do this in my own strength and wisdom.

And I’m thankful you tolerate my messy bits too.

With gratitude,


Karen would gladly squeeze her four-baby-body into a cheerleading suit if it meant you knew someone was rooting for you as a Mom. If she could, she would cartwheel for your victories and offer a pep talk when you are getting pummeled. She wants every mom to feel valued and understood, and if she makes you laugh in the process, even better. You can find her over at and on Facebook.

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