On Being Grateful

There’s someone in my house who is really ungrateful. She looks around at what she has and complains it’s not enough. She whines that other people won’t stop whining. She often doesn’t act grateful for a refrigerator full of food and instead complains it’s not already on the table.  She even forgets how good she has it to be surrounded by family who loves her.

Sadly, it’s me. I spend so much of my day trying to teach my children to be grateful, saying things like “You have plenty. Let’s try to think about what you do have rather than what you don’t have.” or “Let’s pray and thank God for our blessings.”

But with all I talk about gratitude with my children, the truth is this: Sometimes, I sound like a whiney toddler myself, stomping my feet impatiently and demanding more, more, more. I overlook the blessings that are coming at me from all sides and instead think about how hard things are.

Motherhood certainly is hard. But, it’s also one of the most beautiful blessings imaginable. I’m so fortunate that I get to raise my children, that I get to stay home with them, to be their primary teacher, and to be there for all the wonderful, little moments that come unexpectedly over the course of each day.

At the end of the day, after my kids are asleep, I often recount our day to Beach Dad. As I share our stories, I delight in the snuggles, the jokes, the fact that I get to be the one to answer their challenging and foundational questions (like this week’s million dollar question – “what happens when we die?”).  When the kids are asleep and the house is quiet, it’s a lot easier to look back on my day and feel grateful. Each night, I resolve: Tomorrow, I will delight in my children again. And this time, I will do it where they can see it.

Then, we all wake up and mouths need to be fed, diapers changed, spills cleaned up, discipline doled out, laundry done, questions answered, errands run, and on and on. It feels like the demands on my time, energy, and attention never end.  And, I get short-tempered. I get frustrated that everyone is crying when I’m trying to do something fun with them. I get frustrated that we can’t even make it out the door to do something fun because I keep stepping on all the toys they pull off the shelves every time I turn around.

I’m afraid that the message I send to my kids sounds something like “We’re in a hurry. I need to get things done. You’re in my way.”

Obviously, that’s not the message I want to be sending. I want my kids to know how grateful I am for them. To know that I delight in them and am proud of them. I want them to hear me say thank you – to God and to them.

As I started to think about how to start talking about Thanksgiving and teaching them about gratefulness, I was struck by the fact that the best way I can teach them is by modeling it. Unfortunately, I haven’t been doing too well at that lately.  So, as we lead up to Thanksgiving, I’m going to spend the next few weeks thinking about what I’m grateful for. And I’m going to do it during the day. Not just at night after they’ve gone to bed, when they miss the chance to see my rejoicing in them. But, right in the middle of the day, when I’m cleaning up another spill or holding another crying child. thanksgiving

Last month at MOPS, we made these jars to fill with memories and funny quotes. I already have a journal where I do that, so the jar and slips of paper have just been sitting on my counter, waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. This month, I’m going to fill it with what I’m grateful for and I’m going to tell my children what I’m writing. Maybe it will help us all to start thinking about what we’re grateful for right now rather than what we want to happen next.

Care to join me?

Linked to Sundae Scoop.

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