Gratitude. It is that time of year again. I guess the name of the holiday says it all - Thanksgiving.
After some reflection caused by a conversation with an old friend about parenthood, it occurred to me that we may need to be reminded what we have to be grateful for...
ACT One: Someone who loves you (your mother) does something unpleasant but necessary to help you. At the time this act of love is executed, you not only don't appreciate it, it makes you angry or upset. You choose not to see the true motivations of the person trying to help you. In fact, you say hurtful things and behave badly in response.
Skip forward in time.
Act Two: Someone you love (your child) requires that you do something unpleasant but necessary to help them. They not only don't thank you they get angry and lash out at you. They do not understand your true motivation they only see how the act has made them uncomfortable. They say and do hurtful things.
At the time these things occur there is rarely (if ever) a thank you. Recently, my most challenging child told me that as he has grown older he realizes that I was mostly right when he was a kid. (The other, easier kids, expressed this years ago) Not exactly a thank you, but close. It was an important moment for me. There were times when it would have been easier to let things go, to ignore the self-destructive behavior that the one you love is exhibiting. It is easier to avoid than to confront. But, because we care, we confront.
I am abundantly grateful. I am grateful that my Mother did the difficult things that she had to do to appropriately guide me into adulthood. I am grateful that she didn't take the easy path and that she loved me even when I wasn't lovable. I am grateful that because of my Mother, I was strong enough to confront the difficult parts of parenting. She taught me that sometimes I would not be popular and that was okay.
Skip forward again.
Act Three: Someone you love (your Mother) requires that you do something unpleasant but necessary to help them. They not only don't thank you they get angry and lash out at you. They do not understand your true motivation they only see how the act has made them uncomfortable.
When the time came that my Mother needed someone to care for her, she did not like it. My suggestions were met with defensive banter. She was a grown woman and she could take care of herself. I was the child and should remember that. In the end she could no longer deny that she needed me. We both became graceful in our new roles. And, in the end, she was grateful.
Because there was an Act One, Two and Three there will be an inevitable Act Four. I'm hopeful that because I was who I was when my kids needed me, that they will find the strength to be the same when I need them. I am hopeful that they will understand when I am not always lovable. But, most of all, I hope they will know that I was grateful.