Motherhood makes me ungrateful…or at least appear that way sometimes.
Before kids, I lived a very scheduled life. Agendas and task lists were not only followed, but checked off. It was rare to have anything left undone at the end of the day. It was easy to make everyone feel like they were the most important person in my life because for a season, they probably were. Every morning was the start of a new day. And then I had children.
Suddenly every day became an exercise in setting priorities. Mornings are simply a carry-over from the day before, a never-ending list of things still waiting to be done. The ultimate challenge is making sure my husband and children know they are the most important people in my life, while not slighting any of the family and friends that extend beyond these four walls.
There are days I fail miserably. Sometimes I have tunnel vision, things get put in a pile for “later” only “later” never comes. I let volunteering in the classrooms, or getting kids to sports and rehearsals, take precedence over returning an email. Sometimes I wait too long to write a quick note or return a phone call and then find myself too tired from helping with homework, folding laundry, or sitting through a three-hour talent show at the end of the day. There are days I utilize the answering machine way too much.
In those failed moments, I am forever grateful for the friends and family in my life that know my heart the best, and understand that my silence is not a measure of my gratitude or commitment. I appreciate the phone call that says, “Just checking in on you guys”. I will be embarrassed I didn’t call first, but thankful your feelings were not hurt. I am grateful our friendship goes beyond needing recognition or criticism, and can sustain itself on years of building a relationship.
I will be the first one to admit there have been times I have gotten my feelings hurt too because someone didn’t thank me right away for something I did for them. But then I have to take a step back from the situation and ask myself,
“Did I do what I did for them, or for me?”
I also have to look at that person as a whole and decide if it is in character for them to be ungrateful or have a feeling of entitlement. Did they really do this intentionally to hurt me? Most likely the answer is no. It is dangerous of me to make assumptions about another person’s intentions because a negative assumption will affect your relationship. As soon as you label someone “ungrateful”, you become defensive every time you do something for them. Your actions will become bitter and resentful; inner conversations will be harsh.
“I don’t know why I bother because they don’t appreciate it anyway”
“I wonder how long it will take them to acknowledge me this time”
You will not only look for, but find, any reason to strengthen your case against them resulting in a break down of your relationship. I am inconsistent, no doubt, and need to work harder at showing more gratefulness, set a better example to my children of how to make the people in our lives know how much they are appreciated. And in the emotional moments I am disappointed by someone else, I need to remember to treat them how I would like to be treated.
Perhaps the greatest gift we can give each other is grace.