Thoughts on Gratitude
by Jasmine Wood
(Originally published in October, 2013)
This fall I am entering my third year as a stay-at-home-mom, a term which I use for lack of a better word.
How many mothers over the years have felt that the term stay-at-home-mom was not an accurate description for their current career path or lack thereof?
Let's get creative together.
What are some better titles for what we do? I prefer "professional multi-tasker specializing in damage control" or "personal chef to a person with peculiar eating habits" even "24 hour fresh & local milk provider" Let us know some titles you feel adequately describe what it means to be a stay-at-home-mom.
Back to today's topic.
As I enter my third year as a stay-at-home-mom, I find that there is one aspect of this career path that can leave me feeling a bit needy: positive reinforcement!
In most positions in life, from student to professional we are rewarded daily, weekly or monthly with an evaluation of our performance.
Be it a report card, credit from a supervisor at a weekly meeting, or a bonus at the end of the year, our adult lives are filled with positive reinforcement. We may have negative reinforcement too but there are standards we can aim for and be rewarded for achieving them.
I find that many days when dealing with young children, life from day to day can seem like you have history's toughest, most irrational boss.
I will replay a scenario from one of these days.
Your "boss" tosses lunch on the floor that you spent the last twenty minutes preparing simply because they feel like throwing these tiny balls we call "peas".
The day's next challenge? Figure out what your boss is trying to tell you to do for the next hour. They are speaking a language you don't yet quite understand, and in fact, are mostly acting it out with exaggerated gestures. You are engaged in the ultimate game of charades.
For me, this unruly boss is my two-year old daughter. For anyone who has lived with these comical, at times tyrannical, tiny persons called toddlers, it seems one rule is constant. Dad and mom may plan the day, but ultimately the schedule of events is decided by junior.
After a particularly rough couple weeks, I was in need of positive reinforcement.
It had been difficult work to get little Rita down for her afternoon nap for weeks. It would have been nice to hear, "Great job, mom!" "Excellent effort in that particularly grueling round of nap time duties."
Then, after watching me wrestle with her learning tower to change the setting so she could wash dishes next to me, my daughter looked at me with her big blue eyes and said "Thank you, Mama!" My heart was full.
On the subject of gratitude
Ultimately, for every difficult moment we have with toddlers, there are bountiful moments of shining innocence, unadulterated beauty and heart-centered wisdom.
After hearing the "thank you of a lifetime," as I will always remember it, I took some time to reflect on the subject of gratitude. When we get caught up in the difficulties and daily stresses of life's journey we often forget the little blessings that each day will bring. Taking a step back and feeling gratitude allows us to gain clarity and perspective.
Let's make it a point to practice gratitude in our homes, not only for one another, but for all of earth's blessings. I have decided to include a simple song of gratitude, that I often sing to myself when I feel like I need some grounding. I think it is time I introduce it to my daughter as a means for us to celebrate together all that we are grateful for.
A Simple Song of Gratitude
I thank the earth for feeding my body,
& I thank the sun for warming my bones.
I thank the trees for the air that I breathe,
I thank the waters for nourishing my soul,
& I thank my family for sharing their love.
At the end of the day, in quiet reflection, I remind myself that the best positive reinforcement a mother and father can receive is to watch their little one grow up as a loving, compassionate individual. It is in these moments, I can laugh with myself, in the knowledge that I have the most fulfilling job there is.
My child, "my boss", is so much more than that, she is also an excellent teacher. Let us all take time to listen to the lessons our little ones have to share with us.