In general, gratitude gets seriously undervalued. True, it sees extra attention around November (or October depending on your country) which often continues into December. But when the new year comes and the thankful trees and Christmas trees get packed away, how well do we apply all that gratitude the rest of the year? Gratitude is so much more than a statement of “I am thankful for….” That’s a good place to start, but we need to let that seed germinate in our hearts to truly experience the fruit– and it’s bounty.
This morning, I woke early to the sound of a baby calling out to be fed. A few moments later, there was a call from my toddler who was having yet another coughing fit and was hoping for some comforting. Not too long following that, we were all met with a scream coming from the bathroom. My five-year-old had managed to get his foot caught between the toilet seat and the lid while he was using the toilet. (I still have no idea how the logistics worked on that one.) And with all that, there was no way we were going to get that additional hour of sleep I was hoping for. So the kids bundled up in their blankets on my bed while I started some hot bowls of oatmeal for everyone. With all three kids sick, it was going to be a ‘take it easy’ sort-of-day.
Looking back, the morning doesn’t sound as bad as it was in the moment. In my sleep deprived state (having spent most of the night helping three sick kids), I really just wanted everyone to get one more hour of sleep–especially me! Yet, in the absence of that sleep I still needed to try my best to pour out love and comfort on my congested kids. And I knew the easiest road to love is by way of gratitude.
This morning, gratitude gave me perspective and patience. I was grateful for the wisdom shared from more experienced mothers who have advised me to cherish every stage because kids grow quickly. I was grateful for the cuddles that I was able to give to my children and grateful for the opportunity to stay home with them. I was grateful for a kitchen filled with nourishing food. And grateful for a warm home and comfortable beds to wake up in every morning.
Of course, all that gratitude did not make the craziness disappear, but it did help me see through the craziness right to the beautiful core of the moment. And when I see what is really at the center of all these crazy moments, there can only be love. As cheesy as this sounds, at the core of every moment are people who just need to be loved and belong. The application of daily gratitude helps me to keep that perspective all year round so I can more readily give and receive love. Seeing to the core of every moment also helps me stay grounded instead of getting caught up in the crazy. Gratitude is the gift that opens our hearts and lengthens our perspectives, even in the midst of a crazy day or morning.
So while not all mornings may be like this morning was, there are bound to be crazy, frustrating, sleep deprived moments in life–especially as a mother (and even more so in cold and flu season!). And while focusing on gratitude in certain moments may take some practice, it is a habit worth working on. So even outside of the festive holiday season, let’s exercise our gratitude and resolve to keep it fit year-round.
QUESTION: What is one way that you try to keep the gift of gratitude in your life all year long?
CHALLENGE: For one week think of something you are grateful for everyday. Say it out loud to your kids and encourage them to think of one thing they are grateful for too.
Edited by Elsje Denison and Sarah Monson.
Image from Shutterstock with graphics by Julie Finlayson.