Small Success: Gratitude is a choice

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This past weekend, I saw my 8th grader in a play. My son ran and finished 5th in finals for track in the 2-mile. It wasn’t his PR, but it was close! We had a date night; we went to Mass. It was my daughter’s 20th birthday; it was Mother’s day! We had cake. We had presents. We went out to lunch.

Those milestones don’t tell the whole story. They don’t tell that the whole schedule for everything got blown to pieces by one teen needing to do volunteer hours, and then opting for a friend’s party, where she then fell asleep, so that we were sick with worry wondering when she would be home. They don’t tell the story of the track meet event being scheduled at 2 and not happening until 6, or of the baseball tickets that got scuppered because the father who was supposed to go to it was at the track meet for the other son, or the reality that the 20-year-old’s birthday was largely spent trying to calm the 10-year-old who had jellypops over her sister’s birthday.

Come Sunday, we still had groceries and clean up and more service hours, such that by the end of the day, I felt drained. I realized there was a silent nag, robbing all the good moments of joy, like a pin bursting every bubble. I’d let myself not be grateful, and thus not present.

If there is a poison to motherhood and parenting, and to life, it is ingratitude. It robs everything of the emotional pleasure that should have been there, and robbing everyone else if they know, of the joy they’d had in giving.

However, I still wondered how I let that prickle of poison into my mood. Why would I allow myself to be robbed of joy? I didn’t know. Fortunately, God writes straight with crooked lines. My son asked after communion at Mass, “Why do we stay to the end?” and I answered, “Do you leave a baseball game in the 7th inning?” “No.” “Do you leave the superhero movie before the end credits?” “No!” “Do you leave Sunday dinner without dessert?” “NO!”

“Mass is participating in Heaven. There is only one Mass, only one priest; when you’re here, you are in the audience with the King of the Universe in a unique way. Do you want to leave Heaven early?”

“NO!” he said.

So I apologized to my children, to my family, for being frustrated. I don’t know if it’s a sign of their forbearance or how ineffective my bad moods are, that one son said he didn’t notice. We finished the weekend strong, with singing, with cake, with a movie and going to bed early.

Gratitude is a choice, just like love. It isn’t based on feelings. It’s based on knowing the reality of things, that all of this living, all of this running around, is a gift. How we respond to it reveals not whether or not we are successful but whether we love, whether we are faithful.

I sat looking at the calendar for the next two months and that old poison threatened once again, so I told myself, here’s an opportunity to begin again to be faithful, to be loving, to be present.

It is all a gift. There is always more that could be done, should be done, could have been done. However, what is asked of us, is moreness of love, not moreness of anything else.

Happy Small Success Thursday. Hope your week was full of the right sort of moreness. If not, there is always today…to begin again.

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Copyright 2016 Sherry Antonetti

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About Author

Sherry Antonetti is a mother of ten children, published author of The Book of Helen and a freelance writer of humor and family life columns. You can read additional pieces from her blog, http://sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com.

3 Comments

  1. Amen Sherry – once again you have a great way of cutting right to the core of the situation. Your insights never fail to encourage me #parentingishard but more importantly #parentingisagift

  2. it is so easy to fall back to the mode of negativity when things don;t go as planned. You have such a talent of putting your finger right on the issue.

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