jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

Ten Minutes of Thankful (and Then Some)

I was talking the other night with an old friend. She was feeling sad, and bad, and blue. The holidays, the dark winter days, family pressures and perceived failures seemed to have piled on. I was with her. Nothing becomes everything in the vacuum that is our collective mind. But as we talked, I got to thinking of recent posts from blo-ends (blog friends) of mine.

Jennifer Balink at Jenny’s Lark and Dawn Landau at Tales from the Motherland had made these ten minute lists of appreciation. Such a beautiful thing, ten minutes of appreciation. Every time I thought of their posts in the weeks that followed, I’d be lifted as I began to make my list in my mind. I suggested to my friend, against my more cynical nature, that an actual list of thankful for all the wonder she is and all the fabulousness she creates could be a true tonic for her soul.

And then today, Jenn Berney at Goodnight Already, wrote a beautiful reflection about joy, or should I say, JOY. Yes, I thought. Today we should be grateful. Today we find the joy.

So in this season of list-making, of sleep-deprivation and over-imbibing, sick kids and perhaps a tad too much family, of thankfully no tragedy, but then again, always the faint shadow of Christmases past and those who have gone before us, I give you my list of thankful.

Now can all my kids please watch a ten minute Veggie Tales video and let Mama write, for the love of Larry the Cucumber and all that is holy?!

1. I am thankful for my daughter’s delicious belly, the skin that feels like real silk velvet, looks iridescent in its pink blue whiteness and smells always like vanilla and earthy melons and heaven.

May 2014

May 2014

2. And for laying in bed at night with my oldest son, wrapped in his baby blankets and surrounded by stuffed owls as we read books, difficult books, like Orwell’s 1984 or the Giver or Out of My Mind, and we talk about big ideas like war and civil rights and humanity. We are ensconced in this womb of thoughts and comfort and love, and for this tender place, I am so thankful.


Reading before bed
November 2014

3. I am so very grateful for the way my middle son adores me, comforts me. In his deeply complicated, stubborn, electric and dreamy mind, he has affixed me as the icon of comfort and goodness, even when I am neither of those things. When he argues and answers back and flies off the handle, minutes later he is making only for me a minion purse out of paper scraps. And oh, how he cuddles, how he holds my hand.

August 2014

August 2014

4. And his twin, who is vastly independent, figuring out the world in these giant strides, devouring books, desperate for her alone time, playing soccer like the confident badass little girls I always wished I could be. I am thankful that at the end of her warrior Joan of Arc/Hannibal days, that all she wants is for me to lay next to her for three minutes and sing her a song, rub her back, hold only her.

Headed to the monkey bars.  October 2014

Headed to the monkey bars.
October 2014

5. I am thankful for my husband who works his own warrior badass days, but then comes home to me every night to share an insight, seek advice, imagine an adventure, a future special moment for the two of us, or all of us, one that involves the arts, culture, the ocean, luscious food, experiences shared. He bought me New Years socks yesterday because they said Solemate and because they were mismatched. Such love.

Solemate  January 2015

January 2015

6. I am thankful for my mother, how she always shows up for me, although awkwardly, and how I hear her voice in my head for days after our last conversation, how she lopes along on autopilot in her survivor way, and then suddenly surprises me with a rare insight that makes me suspicious that perhaps she, too, has been considering these deeper meanings all along.

Mom and I, on a visit home  April 2014

Mom and I, on a visit home
April 2014

7. And the rest of my family, those I have acquired through marriage or godmothering, those who make their way north to love me and my children at Christmas or Thanksgiving or the 4th of July, and of course, those who have left this life before me, but not without planting themselves in my heart first.

People who drove north to see us  December 2014

Family who drove north to see us
December 2014

8. And my friends, oh, how I am thankful. They are like these glowing lights in the distance on a pitch black lonely North Jersey highway, when the tank of your 69 VW Bug has been reading E and you try to coast down hills to save the gas, when you don’t know if you can possibly make it home and then there it is, lights glittering amidst the otherwise barren landscape, some caffeine, a sweet treat, and the gas you needed to get you through, push you forward, make you invincible again. I don’t know what I would do without our stolen walks, our beach days, boot camp in someone’s backyard, comments posted, texts and phone calls from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Wahington D.C. or right down the road.

Glorious beach days with glorious friends  Summer 2014

Glorious beach days with glorious friends
Summer 2014

9. I am thankful for my skin and bones. Even with the osteopenia and the collagen leaving the building, or maybe because. Maybe because I have resented this sack of flesh and blood for 30 years and now I realize, she deserves some praise, some respect, some love. These skinny calves and big feet, unremarkable boobs that maybe sag a bit now, but that once fed a colony of children, these little arms that can move mountains for those I love, even the love lines on my face my son lovingly traces with his cool fingers trying to push them smooth, there is beauty in all that. There is strength.

10. I am grateful for the fact that I have lived a life that still allows me to believe that I can do anything, that anything is possible. That my education, the people in my life, whatever god-force-life-source that connects us all, even my country of birth have allowed me to envision myself as capable of anything. Except maybe basketball and modeling. But everything else? Fair game. In a world where so many, especially so many women, are allowed so little, that I am allowed so much is a gift; I must remember that this is a gift.

So that’s got to be more than ten minutes. But I’m not done.

I’d add NPR, my alma mater, homemade granola, excellent babysitters, prosciutto, my paddle board, new sneakers, good neighbors, my minivan, play dates, walks outside, good health, fine medical care, teachers who love and cherish my children, a roof over my head, the ocean, the ocean, the ocean, and enough. I am beyond grateful that when I stop and think, take a moment to shut the to-do list down, I am thankful for enough. So very, very thankful.

Here’s to your ten minutes of thankful in the new year. May we all keep adding to the list.


Footy pajamas
January 2015


Sushi, footy pajamas, Bruce Springsteen, flannel sheets, people who read the whole post and comment, Legos, Children’s Tylenol, crockpots and root vegetables, Cabernet Sauvignon, and singing Auld Lang Syne to my children in the dark last night with the starlight night light shining on the ceiling and the sound of their collective breathing my accompaniment… And on… And on….

27 comments on “Ten Minutes of Thankful (and Then Some)

  1. drawandshoot
    January 1, 2015

    This is just beautiful, Jen. (I read the whole post! 🙂
    Best wishes to you and your family in this new year, I hope it gives you lots of time for arting and writing.

    • jgroeber
      January 2, 2015

      Ah, so sweet of you to drop by. And thanks for reading the whole post. 😉
      Happy new year and best wishes for arting and writing right back atcha!

  2. Burns the Fire
    January 1, 2015

    Oh, Jen, thank you. I’m so grateful for this post and your voice. Happiest of new years, my bloggy friend!

    • jgroeber
      January 2, 2015

      I am grateful for blog friends like you, dear Brenda. And also for your beautifully inspiring writing. Cheers to you and a happy new year!

  3. adrianaburgos2014
    January 1, 2015

    Great post very inspiring!!!

    • jgroeber
      January 6, 2015

      Thanks so much for the kind words and for stopping by. Happy 2015!

  4. jesskawrites
    January 2, 2015

    Root veggoes – especially parsnips 🙂

    • jgroeber
      January 6, 2015

      I actually read “veggies”, so there you go. 😉 And yes, i am so thankful for them, too. They go perfectly with that crockpot.

  5. jesskawrites
    January 2, 2015

    * veggies

  6. Roslyn Epstein
    January 2, 2015

    So beautiful Jen! Everyday…grateful! Smiles, giggles, stars, sunrise, being called “Mom”!

    • jgroeber
      January 6, 2015

      Love seeing you here! And yes, being called Mom is a magical one for sure. Also giggles. I’m right there with you.

  7. Amy Reese
    January 2, 2015

    Aww, and this was pure JOY to read, Jen. Thank you for your ten minutes. I, too, love those soft bellies, and mismatched socks. I’m wearing some now. And, the ocean. It always takes my breath away. Let’s keep adding to the list. Good idea.

    • jgroeber
      January 6, 2015

      Adding to the list for the whole year should be my New Year’s resolution. You in? Forget the cleanse diet my friends are doing. I’d have to give up my thankful things! (Like wine and dark chocolate…) I’m sticking with the thankful list instead. Happy 2015!

      • Amy Reese
        January 6, 2015

        I’ve tried that cleanse diet! Oh, it works and then everything is back to normal once you’re off of it. I’m sticking to wine and dark chocolate. Much more my style!

  8. Heidi
    January 3, 2015

    Thank you for you.

  9. Jenn Berney
    January 3, 2015

    Oh, all of this, but especially number three. “In his deeply complicated, stubborn, electric and dreamy mind, he has affixed me as the icon of comfort and goodness, even when I am neither of those things.” And also the socks, how they’re mismatched but matched, just like soul mate really are, and how that photo affords me a view of your beautiful wood floor and the light that day. Glad to know you, blo-end. Feeling thankful for the internet, and WordPress.

    • jgroeber
      January 6, 2015

      Me, too! (Thankful that is.)
      If our boys had a playdate it would be the most dreamy electric playdate ever. They’d walk around pahking cahs or wahking on a sculptcha.
      Feeling thankful for how inspired your posts leave me. Thank you for that.

  10. KMD
    January 5, 2015

    Jen, thank you for your grace, wisdom, kindness, knowing-ness, expressiveness and willingness to share with others the little, small, particular joys and challenges of daily life, in the center and on the edge, and in the most special of particular places and feelings…. You bring New Year joy to all your readers… Really!

    • jgroeber
      January 6, 2015

      Now that is one of the loveliest comments ever. I’m going to carry that one around in my pocket this week like a worry stone to make me smile when I need it. Thank you so much for that.

  11. talesfromthemotherland
    January 7, 2015

    I am so grateful for you, and your beautiful writing, your beautiful heart, your big, wonderful mind. I’m hoping that in 2015, we can do this cara a cara. THAT would be something to top my end of year list, next December!

    • talesfromthemotherland
      January 7, 2015

      PS) I love the idea of adding to the list later in the year, but before New Years again. We could try and get it off the ground– my other effort didn’t get very far, only a few links added. I’d love to read more gratitude. xo

  12. talesfromthemotherland
    January 7, 2015

    I am so grateful for you, and your beautiful writing, your beautiful heart, your big, wonderful mind. I’m hoping that in 2015, we can do this cara a cara. THAT would be something to top my end of year list, next December! I’m hoping that might happen. Happy New year, Jen. xox

    • jgroeber
      January 13, 2015

      Yes, yes to cara a cara. That would be amazing. And yes, yes to more grateful in 2015!

  13. mithriluna
    January 13, 2015

    What a beautiful post Jen. So much to be grateful for. I’m glad you commented on Meredith’s blog so it would lead me to yours.
    I post a Thankful Thursday post every week. If you are interested in participating, you can find my posts here.

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