I have come to believe that things may not necessarily go as per plan.
In a perfectly normal world, this post should have come from my desk within the cozy confines of my small Mumbai apartment; I would be sweating and panting (courtesy the humid weather of Mumbai) trying to complete my chores for the day, whining for some free time and cursing myself as to why I didn’t stay any longer in my native place when the kids had their classes online. Obviously, none of it could happen. So here I am, writing my first post for 2022, from my native land, with my hands feeling stiff like ice-lollies, due to the cold outside!
Did the last-minute change of plan dampen my spirits? It sure did. I have been sulking for one whole week now. Had it not been for a small yet significant happening from last evening, I would still be feeling out of sorts.
Last evening my 7-year-old (Shriyadita) and I sat down for our daily reading session. The E-book that we read was titled I AM THANKFUL, emphasizing gratitude…Just to be clear, she chose the book. At the end of the E-book there was an optional activity that had to be done. It said What or who are you thankful for in your life? Draw a picture and list 3 reasons for the same. For some reason, Shriyadita was visibly overjoyed.
“I want to do this Mumma! Can we do this tomorrow after breakfast?” she asked. I gave her a thumbs up in addition to a nod.
As decided, post breakfast we sat down to finish the activity on GRATITUDE. I could sense her excitement by the speed with which she got everything together in a fraction of a second and sat next to me on the bed; Her pencil box, pencil colors, notebook, stencils…everything placed neatly in front of her! To say I was impressed would be an understatement. The mother in me was overwhelmed to know that the book had struck some good chord within her. Looking at her I felt inspired enough to write down something that I am thankful about.
That said, both of us scrutinized the question What /who are we thankful for in our life? She stared at her notebook; I looked at the laptop screen. Before I could navigate through my own feelings, she interrupted me with her question “Are you going to write a story Mumma?”
“Not exactly. I thought I should give you company. I will also write down something that I am thankful for. What do you think?” I answered, winking at her.
“You will? That sounds fun. Then you can tell me what you are thankful for, and I will tell you about mine. Actually, I am going to write about you!” she replied zestfully, having let out the big secret.
I was all ears now. Actually, even my eyes wanted to see every word that she was going to write, even before she began to write.
I think that’s where I erred. I made her conscious. She wrote my name in the first line. But she couldn’t write any further. Meanwhile my eyes were fixated at the tip of her pencil, her hand and the blank page.
As a mother we all do so many things, both big and small, for our children. In our head we are so full of our own image of how great a parent we have been that we do not necessarily factor in how our children see us. We both stared at the blank page with my name written on it for a very long time. I began thinking Shouldn’t she have filled the page with how I take care of her all day? Isn’t there even one thing that she is thankful about?
I was disappointed; Disillusioned would be a better word. Upset with the status quo on the blank page, I questioned her “If you have written my name then you must know why you feel thankful towards me! Is there nothing that you can think of?”
My 4-year-old who had been sitting beside us all along, making doodles on the slate with the chalk, immediately lapped up the question and blurted out more than 10 ways in which I took care of her. 4 of out of 10 points mainly focused on how I cook chicken, fish, mutton and eggs for her!!! She’s just 4 and her promptness in answering the question made me laugh. I turned around only to find Shriyadita in tears. Big water balls rolling down her cheeks! I couldn’t understand why she was more upset than I was.
Drawing her closer to me, I gave her some water and tried to calm her. It was then that she said “I don’t know how to describe gratitude. I cannot understand what is it that can convey my thankfulness. I love you Mumma, but I am confused.”
I wasn’t disillusioned anymore. In fact, she enlightened me with one very important aspect of parenting and life in general. That the WHY of something is as important as the WHAT. That we are not helping our children understand and inculcate the virtue of gratitude. That unless we teach our children how to, and why to see things and people under positive light, they might not know how to embrace and imbibe gratefulness in their personality as well, which by the way is not a nice thing!
Because being grateful devoid of the context is a basic life skill. It’s a virtue everyone needs to practice. It’s a quality that enhances the quality of our life. Because a grateful person focuses his/her energies towards the good and the positive.
That said, what am I thankful for today?
I am thankful for this numbing icy morning because it makes my first cup of tea priceless! I am thankful for the mistakes that my children make because I unlearn and learn from them more than I did when I made mine. I am thankful that not all things go as per my plan because it is only then that I take cognizance of the beauty that lies in the plans of a force greater than us. I am thankful for my daily struggles because that is what makes the smallest of joys valuable.
Teach your children thankfulness. Practice gratitude with them every day. Because being a grateful person is a good thing to be.
P.S. —Welcoming this year with gratitude in my heart. And here’s hoping you find enough and more reasons to be thankful. Wishing you grace this season.