Yesterday, I had a plan. I had a to-do list and my Trello board held what was to come for the day. I woke up energized (the coffee a few minutes later helped..) and ready for what I needed to get done. It all started out so well. I showered without interruption, I got dressed in grown-up clothes, which is a real coup for me seeing as though I work in my home office. I had a mastermind call with some of my favorite business ladies and friends. I was on a roll. I am productive business mom, hear me roar.
Then, the proverbial ish hit the fan.
Just like that, a minor incident with my bank and debit card turned into an all day fiasco that needed my full attention. I spent hours on the phone throughout the day, listening to classical hold music with bad audio quality, waiting for someone to give me an answer and begging this person wouldn’t pass me off to the next.
The whole ordeal raised my anxiety levels to new heights and made me consider more than once taking all of my money out of banks and hoarding it inside my mattress. I ended up having to cancel a call I had with a business associate and a live video I had planned on my Facebook page. I waved goodbye to my pretty to-do list as I watched it get flushed down the drain while I dealt with (in comparison) low level minutia.
I was angry. I was furious, actually. I felt cheated out of a perfectly good work day. As a mama, my work moments are precious. I try to fit in everything I can before my kids come home. Not because they won’t let me work, but because I value my moments with them. It didn’t seem fair that I had to deal with my bank and an error on their end at the expense of my own fabulously planned out day.
At some point in the afternoon, all while trying not to cry, I felt a smack upside my head. Figuratively, of course. It was a smack coming from deep inside of me in the place where I keep my joy and happiness, and it told me loudly and without any hesitation, “You should be grateful you even have money in the bank to have to deal with this.”
Ouch. The smack hurt, because it was hard and real. I spent hours dealing with something I wasn’t planning on, but even more of those hours angry and upset and feeling cheated, all the while sitting at a nice desk, on a comfty chair, in front of a three month old Mac, on a cell phone, talking about my money. I then got into my functioning car, backed out of my garage attached to my safe and warm home, drove to my mother’s house to pick up my son who got to spend the entire day with his grandmother and cousin all while the sun was shining down on me. And the only thing I could think about it how much more work I would have to do the next day because I spent my day dealing with the card company.
I’ve never wanted to tell myself to shut up more.
Because, you see, I preach gratitude. A lot. I discuss it with my kids, my husband, my family and my students. I talk about it on social media and with anyone who will listen. Gratitude runs my life and I practice it as often as possible, yet here I was, once again, getting myself worked up about nonsense that I wouldn’t even remember in 3 weeks.
Gratitude is a hot topic these days. A quick Google search of the term will bring up all sorts of blog posts and Ted talks and memes and quote cards. It’s amazing, but how many of us are actually taking this to heart and showing gratitude? How many of us are doing more than re-sharing a "Have an attitude of gratitude" quote card every few months?
It is easy to be grateful for the good stuff in our lives. It’s easy to be grateful when our kids sleep through the night, or are husband puts away all the laundry before you can even get to it. It’s easy to show gratitude when the sun is shining on the day you planned a picnic, or when you find a $5 bill in your old coat pocket. There is nothing simpler than showing gratitude for the outwardly great things in our life.
But what about the crap?
What about the three hour long phone calls to the bank on a day you had other things to do? Or the gallon of spilled milk on the kitchen floor after your 4 year old tried to get her own cereal? Or the flat tire on the side of the road, in the pouring rain, with screaming kids in the car and a trunk full of groceries? Where’s the love then? Nowhere to be found.
When everything goes to hell in a handbasket, our first inclination is to pick up our hand and point the finger. Then we wag that finger angrily at the things and people we blame, because it’s their fault for our crappy feelings. We never take the time to think about how we can find something to be grateful for in that moment. The kind customer service woman on the other end who desperately tries to help you. The sweet daughter who spilled the milk helping you with all she has to clean it up. The AAA membership you forgot your father gave you for Christmas. There is something to be found in every situation if we are looking hard enough, but most of us don’t.
Blame is easier. Blame means we don’t have to do much to fix the problem. It’s someone else’s fault, therefore it is someone else’s job. We’ve become a society full of blame and it has bled into who we are as women and mothers. Worst of all, we now put blame on ourselves for things that need no blame, only responsibility. We hate ourselves, feel guilt or feel undeserving. Blame is the opposite of gratitude. Gratitude heals, blame wounds.
Our language doesn’t help matters. Everywhere you look, it’s “FML!!” or “Only me, of course!” or “Ugh. Why me?!” And what’s worse is that people are saying these things to the most trivial, obnoxious things. What started as a joke has now become the norm. Have to work an extra shift this week? “FML! WHY ME?” Are you serious? You have the luxury of a job and extra pay and you’re basically telling your life to go screw itself? We complain and judge and blame, all the while ignoring the beauty surrounding us that we could be grateful for in every moment.
This isn’t about being a Pollyanna. It isn’t about shutting our eyes to the negative or pretending that crappy days don’t exist, but it is about shifting your mindset from an attitude of thanklessness to an attitude of appreciativeness. It’s about looking around everyday at your home, your life, your children and yourself and finding the things that you’ve overlooked in your moments of unhappiness. There are infinite things for each of us to be grateful for if we look hard enough and nothing will spark more joy in your motherhood than carrying around an attitude of gratitude. Don’t let it be another quote on a bumper sticker.
I try to practice gratitude in every area of my life, even for the mundane and sometimes annoying things that need to be done. My job as a mother and a homemaker is ripe with mundane and annoying tasks, but I'm grateful just the same, because my mundane is someone else's goal or dream. I designed The Reluctant Homemaker Starter Guide for the mom that looks around at the home management tasks in front of her and isn't even sure where to start. It's difficult to show gratitude when you're drowning in day-to-day tasks and stuck in the "I just need to survive today." cycle. This starter guide is the jumpstart to organizing and simplifying homemaking for the modern mom. No more guessing. Download your free copy, mama.
And I am grateful for you.