How to Find Gratitude Even When You Constantly Give
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A few weeks ago my family and I took a trip to South Florida to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. We traveled through the Keys, then up to the Sanibel/Ft. Myers area, which is a special place for us as we spent a weekend there shortly before getting engaged. I used to live in Ft. Myers, and have always been in love with Sanibel Island.
While we were on vacation, I messaged my brother-in-law because his Mom is a super-serious sheller. (I’m not sure what the proper term is for this, but it’s been described to me as the people that get up at un-Godly hours to scour the beaches before anyone else gets there to find the best and most rare shells.) Sanibel Island is famous for its shells, but I knew there were spots that the ‘serious shellers’ count as gold-mines.
So we went to Bowman’s Beach (one of the recommendations), and were immediately enamored with the sheer volume of shells just lying in beautiful sun-bleached piles all over the sand. It sort of felt like when Aladdin entered the Cave of Wonders and was breathless from the stacks of treasures everywhere. As we walked and collected, I commented to my Mom that surely we wouldn’t find anything of value, but still even the ‘non-valuable’ shells were pretty. She said that the best time to search for the good stuff was after a big storm because that’s when the good shells were churned up and pushed to shore.
As I walked and contemplated this, I felt like the ocean must get exhausted from the pressures to constantly perform, not unlike us Mamas. The sea operates on cycles, and is sometimes exposed to turbulent storms that generate peak products. And then it rests while others reap the rewards, sometimes without so much as a ‘thank you’.
Since the ocean has always been a dear part of my core and memories, the counterpoint to that thought that brought a contented balance is that the sea is a very healing and soothing place for me. Almost like we’re kindred spirits that co-exist and instinctively understand each other. And even though we may get little to no appreciation at times, we still give, because our very nature is to nurture, and to nurture, and to nurture some more. Cycle after cycle. But the result is something beautiful that we can all be so crazy proud of, that it makes it all worth it in the end.
And maybe the answer is to have gratitude for all the little monkeys you’re doing this for in the first place… When I get really overwhelmed, I sit back and think of how miserable I felt dealing with infertility issues for four years. All I wanted was to be a Mama, and now I’ve given birth to three healthy, beautiful daughters. Yes, they can act like hooligans and stretch my patience to my end-point, and yes, I feel totally unappreciated a lot of the time. But when just one tells me, “Thank you, Mommy!” and squeezes my waist with a smile, all that annoyance just dissipates.
When I’m feeling the un-gratitude monster rearing it’s ugly head, I like to journal to get some things off my chest. I have a great gratitude journal that includes 12 months that are un-dated over on the Journals page.
Do you feel like you’re a little unappreciated? How are you feeling under the pressures of work and being a Mama? Share in the comments below!
And if you know someone that could benefit from reading this post, please share!