The Blessing of Appreciation
Being taken for granted stinks, doesn’t it? In the workplace, in the home, in our relationships- any time we put time, thought, and effort into something and other people seem to just breeze right by it and not even notice that anything was done, it makes you feel pretty lousy.
I’m not saying that moms have cornered the ENTIRE market on being taken for granted, but I’d argue that we have amassed a pretty large share of it. I’m pretty sure that 90% of the stuff I do in my day is COMPLETELY invisible to everybody but me and Jesus. My little ones don’t even think about where the clean laundry comes from (although my son is learning to put it away himself), everyone thinks the toilets magically clean themselves, and as for dinner, half the time the kids complain that it’s so terribly horrible that they couldn’t possibly eat it- even though I SPECIALLY chose it because it was all stuff they liked YESTERDAY! GAAAAAAAAH!!!!!!
As moms, our inclination is to just let the lack of appreciation roll off our backs, remind ourselves that we aren’t in it for the recognition, that what we do really DOES matter even if our family doesn’t realize it, and get back to business as usual. After all, seeking approval and appreciation is unbecoming, right? Nobody likes an attention-seeker.
But here’s the thing: I don’t think we are doing ourselves, our kids, and humanity in general any favors if we allow everything we do for our family to remain invisible and taken for granted. Our intentions are good and noble in wanting to do our work out of love for our family and not for recognition, but if we go too far in that direction, we risk missing an opportunity to teach our kids important life lessons about gratitude, appreciation, and about really SEEING all of the ways we are blessed and the ways others are blessing us.
I want to send out into the world kids who notice when someone holds the door for them, who think about all of the work their teacher must have put into their class party and thanks her for it, who smile at the man behind the counter who hands them their ice cream. I want to raise adults who recognize all of the hard work their coworkers put in, who appreciate the extra effort their significant other puts into making their home more welcoming or their outing together more special. People who are mindful of the sacrifices our Military and First Responders make for them, for the safety and comfort they enjoy, and for little moments like a cup of coffee by the fire or a beautiful sunset. And not just because it’s good for the world to have people in it who spread light and appreciation, but also because it breeds resilience to be able to count our blessings and see how much we have and how much has been done for us even in the moments when the bad and the hard seem so big. There is strength for EVERYONE in a healthy sense of appreciation.
So, moms, it’s time for us to stop feeling guilty about wanting our efforts to be noticed and wrap our brains around the idea that appreciation is just as good for the kids as it is for us. What it looks like to shine the light of appreciation in our families is going to look different in every household, but it’s worth doing. That feeling in our hearts of wanting to be noticed- everyone feels that way. Each and every person has that need to be acknowledged and recognized and if we can raise our little ones into big people who do that for one another, man will we have accomplished a big win for humanity.
So don’t run from the need to be seen and known and recognized for all you do- lean into it and figure out how you can use it to build a culture of appreciation in your family that your kids will take with them out into the world. Talk to your co-parent or to close friends and family members about how they might join you in these efforts. Be prepared to do A LOT of modeling- it might even help US to cultivate more grateful hearts in ourselves. Point out what others do for you, thank your spouse/co-parent in front of the kids for the little things that they do, thank your kids for their efforts as well. Make lists of what you’re grateful for. If you’re a praying family, that’s a PRIME opportunity to work in thanksgiving and be mindful of lifting up even the smallest things as big blessings.
Appreciation and gratitude are habits of mind and heart that go out in circles of light and good, building stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger world. Go ahead and make it a priority, it will lift you up and bring your family along with it.
Comment below and share with us how you practice gratitude and appreciate within your own self-reflection and family unit!