Motherhood can be rewarding, but often it’s hard. It can mean sleepless nights, worry, letting go of your own desires to prioritize those of others, making difficult choices, making mistakes, going unrecognized and at times, feeling powerless.
We each have a unique relationship with our mothers and the mothers in our lives (for example, wives, aunts, grandmothers or sisters who are mothers). Whether our relationship with her is conflicted or smooth, warm or cool, a mother is a mother and one day a year is set aside to recognize her for what she does.
If you’re someone who has a warm and open relationship with your mom or the moms in your life, expressing gratitude may come naturally. For those with complicated feelings, it can be a bit more difficult.
But gratitude is important. The expression of gratitude strengthens relationships and allows for more honest communication. Gratitude is validating of a person’s efforts and best intentions. And giving gratitude makes it more likely that you’ll receive it in return.
Mothers are often mired in menial tasks and taking care of unrecognized everyday jobs. We often don’t think about the unremarkable things moms do that, combined and over time, create our sense of home.
What does your mom or the moms in your life do for you?
Focus on What You Do Have
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
All mothers fail their children in one way or another. Today, focus on what you do have and on what your mother or the mothers in your life have done for you and the children she cares for. She might have gotten a second job to pay the bills, bought you or her child new shoes when hers were worn, always had your favorite meal waiting when you visited, sidelined her own dreams to support your pursuit of yours, unfailingly picked up your socks and returned them clean to your drawer, worried for you, tried to give helpful advice or listened when no one else would.
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” – Oprah Winfrey
If you have lost your mother, focus on those people who have done motherly things for you. This could be a teacher, family member, father, neighbor, friend’s parent or some other important person in your life. It might be someone who doesn’t know they are helping to fill this important void for you.
Make a list of things you’re grateful for
Consider this as brainstorming. For some this may come easily, while others may struggle to create a list. Try not to judge how easy or difficult it is to make a list. Let go of criticism and disparaging thoughts about either yourself or your mother.
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~ William Arthur Ward
Say “thank you” for something specific that your mom or the moms in your life did for you or the children they care for.
Tell you mom why something she did was meaningful to you.
Articulate some of those unremarkable things she does that accumulate and make your life better.
Write an email telling her you appreciate her hard work or her caring.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy
Do something you know is important to her. For example, you might read that book she’s been bugging you to read or skip the fast food and stock up on some veggies.
Do for her what she usually does for you. If you live with mom, pick up some of the household tasks she usually does. Yes, breakfast in bed is nice, but it’s even nicer to have the dishes done, counters wiped, laundry folded or clutter put away. Show mom that you understand how hard she works by doing some of what she usually does.
Even if you have conflicted feelings towards your mom or the moms in your life, expressing gratitude is important. She may not have always been there for you or she may have made mistakes. If you just can’t express gratitude towards your mom, focus on others that did add to you life.
What has your mom done for you and how have you expressed gratitude? Did it have an impact on your relationship? Have you been the recipient of someone else’s gratitude? How did it affect you? Use the comments section to answer any of these questions.
You can find more strategies to help you reach your dreams and improve how you feel in my new book, The Stress Response and by clicking here to sign up for more of my tips and and here for podcasts using DBT strategies to improve how you feel.
Gift for mom photo available from Shutterstock.
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Last reviewed: 14 May 2012