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Gratitude to others and everything that we have is a wonderful thing, and helps us centre ourselves, but we should remember to be grateful for who we are too!
Last night, I was tucking in my 8-year old. It is our ritual to have a little conversation before I step out of her room leaving her to fall asleep. However yesterday, she was at her chattiest best and would not stop at anything. Eventually, I had to cut-in the dialogue short by reminding her that she needed to sleep early to wake up early. Mercifully, she agreed in principle.
I almost stepped out of the room, when I heard her saying Goodnight to everyone and expressing her gratitude to each and every force in Universe she could think of. Smiling to myself, I returned to her room and sat by her bedside to hear her out.
Her long list began from Stars-Moon-Planet Earth-Oceans-Oxygen in air- clean water to drink- people who make clothes for her- Mummy- Papa- Bhaiya… so on and so forth.
Somewhere during her recital of the long list of things she was grateful about, my mind began to wander. My heart began swelling with joy and pride on a lesson she had learnt well. I found myself thinking about an episode that occurred last week when I had caught her in a down-and-out mode while tucking her in. On imploring, she had replied, “Mum! I am sad because I will have to go to school tomorrow.”
Surprised with her answer, I had asked, “But you like school. Don’t you?”
“I do,” she nodded and then cried out, “But I don’t like getting up so early in the morning. Also I don’t like it that I am expected to finish each tiny morsel of food in my plate during the lunch hour at school. It is very stressful for me.”
Her candid admission had me thinking about how human mind invariably manages to find something to be stressful about; right from childhood. Instead of counting its million blessings, it will agonise itself on a handful of problems life throws its way. I mean, sure we have problems but do we not have more reasons to smile about than fret? Most times, do we not make issues out of non-issues?
Back to that moment, I realized it was time for a talk and though speaking very gentle and very soft is not my style; I made a mental note to be mindful about the tone I was going to employ. In the gentlest possible voice I could muster to speak in, I began, “Darling! I understand it’s tough to wake up at 6 in the morning for school but do you know there are thousands of kids out there who would happily switch places with you to do just that? Also, there would be millions of kids who would die to lay their hands on your plate. Yes, the one you have to painstakingly finish.”
I took a break to observe her. I knew she wasn’t expecting this but I also knew that she was absorbing each word I uttered to her. Encouraged by her attention, I went on to add, “It is impossible to have everything at all points of time. The idea is to prioritise what is more important for us. That means if our education is important for us, we get up whatever time we have to. If health is important, we finish off everything in our plate. But all the while, we need to be grateful for what we have and not complain about the little chinks that will come in our way.”
Since she was listening, I went a step further to give her a little spiel on having a mind-set of gratitude. Maybe, I went tad basic and harsh in drilling the message but sometimes you need to do just that. So I told her that she is blessed to not be living on streets in these cold winters (this was the night, it had rained cats and dogs with snowfall like hailstorm in Delhi-NCR). That God had been kind to her for the fresh and hot food on her plate whenever she wanted. That she should be thankful for having a home that is blessed with love, family-friends-and-relatives that adore her, more clothes-toys-and accessories than her closets can allow.
When I turned to look at her, I noticed she had drifted off to sleep. I smiled to myself on that long preachy lesson but I also noticed that her agitated face had calmed down.
Cut-to last night, when I was patting myself on my back for delivering an effective lesson in attitude of gratitude:
“Good night to Universe. Good night to Asia. Good evening to Europe. Good morning to U.S.” was the note on which she began and then continued, “Thank you God- Thank you Universe- Thank you Galaxy- Milkyway- Solar system- Stars- Moon- planet Earth- Oceans-Oxygen in air- clean water to drink- my food that makes me strong and healthy- my teachers who teach me- all my friends- all my grandparents- guard bhaiya who makes sure everyone is safe- my books- my TV- my piano- people who make clothes for me- my Dadu- my Didi, my Papa- my Mummy- my Bhaiya- but I am…”
Still smiling at her sweet list, I waited for her to finish her gratitude monologue so that she could finally sleep and I could return to my room too when she gobsmacked me with the last person she was most grateful for.
“…but I am most grateful to MYSELF.”
After that, she went to sleep in no time and I found myself sitting by that bedside for longest. At eight, she is wiser than her years and had delivered to me the biggest life lesson I needed to learn. Prone to self-doubt and criticism, this is the best thing I have heard in the longest time.
Before feeling any gratitude for anyone else and anything else, one needs to have that innate sense of gratitude for self. Without a doubt, it comes from self-love; something we are not taught to learn.
As I write this today for I feel this must be shared, I also feel an overpowering sense of love for myself. This idea of love with gratitude for self makes me happier and has set a positive tone for my day already.
So, thank you my little one for this wonderful life lesson! Sometimes, I feel you are Mothering me more than I am Mothering you.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: pexels
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