Before becoming a mom, it felt important to express gratitude for the big things in my life. A comfortable home. Family and friends. Unexpected opportunities. Now that my days are a mostly frenzied mix of conference calls and diaper changes, I no longer take for granted the routine activities of the past. When my partner is with our son on the weekends, slipping in to a long, hot shower feels as luxurious as a day at the spa. I look forward to it, and feel real excitement about the idea of washing my hair without sticking my head out every two minutes to reassure the baby that I didn’t actually leave. Even drinking a cup of my favorite tea out of my favorite mug while the baby naps feels like the ultimate act of self-care.
There have been times when I’m trying to work, but my son only wants to be held. I let out an exasperated sigh as I pick him up, but once he’s in my arms, the frustration melts away and I feel grateful that I’m the one he’s reaching for. At night when he’s fussy before bed, I silently beg him to fall asleep so I can have a break. Yet once he’s been asleep for an hour or so, I find myself sneaking back in to watch him sleep, whispering how much I love him and can’t imagine my life without him.
The hot shower, the cup of tea, the extra hour of sleep. The gentle squeeze of my son’s arms, his soft curls, the sound of his newly-formed, “mama.” A home, a job, family and friends. These are the moments, the in-between times, and the big things for which I’ve become thankful. Altogether, they remind me that the seemingly mundane daily details are just as important as the big things in life, and that gratitude is all about perspective.
At some point within the last several years, I became very conscious of expressing my gratitude. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is say “thank you.” Sometimes I say it out loud, and other times I just barely whisper it, but this mini-ritual has become important for me to set the tone of my entire day. It’s my way of acknowledging how thankful I am to have opened my eyes to be given another chance to try to be a better human for myself and everyone I love. I say “thank you” for the previous day and as a way to welcome the joys, lessons, and inevitable challenges of the day ahead. Saying “thank you” when I wake up is a preemptive, two-second meditation that helps to keep my sanity intact on the days I feel I could fall apart.
I plan to expand my gratitude practice and attempt to cultivate a spirit of gratitude in my son as he grows, if that’s possible. I want him to find joy in life’s small moments and recognize that we can always find something for which to be thankful, even if it’s just a hot shower.