gratitude

Maggie’s first job

My daughter earned her first $1 bill today. Is that legal? Surely not. Well, it happened, nonetheless.

We enjoyed lunch after church at a local diner. Our waitress, a young, cheerful woman who told me she had a five year-old son, went out of her way to express kindness to my daughter, and I was thankful. She brought Maggie chips before our meals arrived. Any parent understands the magnitude of this gift (if this doesn’t happen, your child morphs into some sort of monster in 5.2 minutes). She entertained all of Maggie’s detailed questions patiently. Maggie enjoyed her gigantic flower-shaped pancake, coated in margarine and syrup, and had a grand old time. After the meal, the waitress jokingly asked Maggie if she wanted to help clear the table to help pay for the meal. And lo and behold, Maggie agreed to help.

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She jumped up from the table and followed the waitress around, asking what she could do to help. My mama heart burst with love and joy, watching my daughter serve. She didn’t expect anything in return—she genuinely wanted to clean, serve, and assist our waitress. Our waitress allowed her to help clear the table and then gave Maggie a $1 bill as a gift for helping out. Maggie thought she’d won the lottery and beamed from ear to ear with pride, clutching the money and her stuffed puppy dog, Homer, as we headed to the car, waving goodbye to our new waitress friend.

I remembered all the times that week I’ve felt grumpy and cantankerous about doing laundry, cleaning up after dinner, and loading and emptying the dishwasher. How many times had I begrudgingly washed my daughter’s hair or felt annoyed that I couldn’t enjoy my coffee alone in the afternoon? I specifically recalled feeling disgruntled about trying to hurriedly finish editing a presentation while Maggie attempted to crawl in my lap. And while I have to extend grace to myself–because parenting is difficult, and I am not perfect–I can also learn a lot if I watch my daughter closely. Maybe if I attempt to approach life with just a little bit more of her attitude of service, enthusiasm, and joy over what seem to be tiny moments, I’ll feel less overwhelmed, less disgruntled, and less annoyed when I’m juggling parenting, housekeeping, friending, and working. And maybe if I find pleasure right where I am, I’ll also feel a little less brokenhearted when she slams the car door and walks into school morning after morning, year after year, in just a few short months.

 

 

gratitude

Perfectly enough

 

 *Thanks to my friend Marti for sharing her thoughts on Mother’s Day this year!*

Marti with her mom
Marti with her mom

This Mother’s Day will be new for me; you see, my mother died in January of this year.  Last year for Mother’s Day I planned a special day – something she really enjoyed. This is a product of the program of recovery that has taught me new ways of thinking.  This program has taught me to do things for fun and for free.  To give fully from my whole heart.  These things don’t come naturally; in the natural I am fearful, fearful that you will reject my gift, that my gift isn’t good enough. Really what I’m fearful of is that I’M not good enough and that the rejection will bring shame and pain. 

Through others sharing their experience, strength, and hope with me, I’ve developed courage to try something new.  To not depend on the outcome but to trust the process.  Not everything I try will be successful, but not trying is a guaranteed failure.  In learning from others, I’ve come to believe that there is a Higher Power Who sees around corners and is preparing me to handle whatever comes my way.  I have learned that just for today, I can be a lady of grace and dignity.  And if I “act as if” long enough, I become the lady of grace and dignity that my Higher Power can be proud of. 

Through the gifts of Al Anon, I’ve learned that acceptance is the key to true happiness.  I did my best to accept my mother as the person she was and not the person I wanted her to be.  I accept her as a child of God on a journey similar to mine.  I can accept that I was not the perfect daughter, but in the last few years, we had a kind and gentle relationship that wasn’t always easy but was always worth it.  As I look forward to this Mother’s Day, I am glad to say thank you to the God of my understanding for giving me the mother I had and for giving me the understanding and peace that comes from the love we shared.  Not always perfect, but perfectly enough.