I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~Abraham Lincoln~
For you fellow mothers out there, tomorrow is the day designed just for you by….who?
It’s interesting, as I have often believed that this is yet another holiday designed by the retail gods to get us to swarm like bees around their establishments, grabbing chocolates and bears and “I love you Mom” temporary tattoos. But I was wrong. The history of celebrating Mothers actually goes back to ancient Greece. In more modern times in the United States, Anna Jarvis held her first celebration in 1908, as a memorial to her mother.
Worldwide, the day for celebrating dear old Mom varies, so even though I am writing about it in May, people on other parts of the world have already showered their Mom with love, presents and accolades, or will do so in the coming months.
Regardless of your timing for this celebration, I wanted to take a moment and talk about the grateful mother. See, I know this day is all about you. But the reality is, kids learn to be grateful from you by the example you set for them each day. Soap and water can wash off the dirt from your afternoon in the park, but it cannot erase the belief system you instill in their growing minds with your words, your actions and your beliefs. Each day, you plant seeds of gratitude and compassion within the hearts of your children.
That said, I wanted to put down what I see as some of the wonderful things that make up a grateful mother. I take these from my own mother, my sisters, my friends, and some amazing women I have met along this zig-zaggilicious road of life.
The Grateful Mom…
- Designs Daily Touch Points for Gratitude: Maybe it is at breakfast. Maybe it’s a note in with the lunch for school. Maybe it is a conversation about the best part of the day at dinner. Maybe it is the reverent thank you’s shared at bedtime. A grateful Mom knows that a thankful life can only materialize by practicing gratitude daily. Just like perfecting a sport or musical instrument, gratitude takes practice. You have to make it a habit. You have to make it part of your routine. Living a life that illuminates the blessings in life comes by….looking for the blessings. We often confuse happiness with being showered with the things or life we want. And then we get what we want, and look around, and wonder why we are still not satisfied. The truth is happiness and gratitude comes from being satisfied with the here and now, just as it is, stained with grape juice or sticky with gum.
- Doesn’t Take Herself Too Seriously: We’re all guilty of it. We have so much on the list, so many tasks to complete that we need everyone to just fall into line and listen to instructions. And truly, how would anything ever get done if we didn’t have a little of the drill sergeant tendencies in us? But, a grateful mother realizes, that even if she can’t be this way seven days a week, she must show her children glimpses of her inner seven-year old. And yes, you have it. We all have it. The inner little girl screaming to get out. For some of us, we’ve maybe denied her existence for a while, thinking we need to be grown up and mature. But she’s there. She grinning from ear to ear, she’s got a splotch of chocolate sauce on the front of her dress, an imagination that can take you anywhere you want to go, and she speaks the truth about what is important. NOW. Yes, that inner seven-year old you knows that to-do list will not make you happy in the only moment you really have, right now. So, even if you haven’t unleashed her in a while, let her out to play. The grateful Mom lives out loud, and knows that when your child reflects back one day, those inner seven-year old kind of days are going to stand out.
- Understands She is the Keeper of the Dream: When I reflect back on the life of my mother, one of the things she was so good at was making memories. She had this ability to turn a day into an occasion, and could put special touches on things that just made them into magical times you would carry with you. I bet you know what I mean. She just went the extra mile to give me a happy childhood. But more than making memories, a grateful mother is also the keeper of the dream. She has the ability to make those special moments, but to also let those special moments fit into their child’s hope and dreams and not their own. As mothers, we all have a personal vision of our child, and it usually involves them being healthy, happy, and accepting a Nobel Prize for curing cancer. But a grateful Mom understands that it is not our dream to keep….we can nurture, and tend the garden of our children, but our job is to let them find their own passions and dreams. Our job is to tell our children that anything is in fact possible, and we believe in them and all their hopes for the future.
- Teaches Her Kids to Focus on the Light, Even When it’s Dark: Sometimes, life just plain ole sucks. Bullies, skinned knees, ants at the picnic, loss at the championship game. Sometimes, it’s more serious. Death, divorce, job loss. Life is not easy. The Grateful Mom shows her child the honesty of life, that it is far from perfect and sometimes it hurts. But, there is always goodness around you, no matter how dark the day. The mother who lives a grateful life knows that thankfulness is not just for the banner days when everything sails along swimmingly. This Mom teaches her child to look for the little blessings that sit within the worst of days, and helps her child build resilience and the vision to see that no matter what, they are still loved and blessed and will see better tomorrows.
- Realizes That Life is Short, Even When it Feels Like it’s Not. I read once, “The Days are long, but the years are short.” Not sure where, but boy, it sums up parenting quite nicely. It’s not easy to raise tiny human beings. They have their very own brains, they don’t always listen, they oftentimes don’t agree, they are sticky, they smell, the list goes on. The grateful mother realizes that even on the days that it seems like the 24 hour clock has been extended and bedtime will never arrive….that life goes by with the blink of an eye. Ask any mother who has just sent her child off to college. It seems like just yesterday they were changing diapers. The grateful mother embraces and celebrates every less than picture perfect moment, knowing they only go this way once. And the effort is worth it, every single bit of it.
Your gratitude is like a seed planted in the heart of your child, and will grow as they do into something more beautiful than you can possibly imagine.
Happy Mother’s Day,