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Gratitude and Happiness


Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. – Marcel Proust

A few weeks ago, I flew to see my closest friend in Boston. We had lived four years together in Prague; she with four young sons, the smallest, a tiny infant when they moved there. My sons, when we moved to Prague, were all in school all day for the first time — a series of stair-steps about 5 years older than hers. She is European; I am American. And yet, we became friends, and truly sisters.

Arriving to see a friend like that, one who gets you completely, is one of the greatest happiness I know. I am so grateful for that privilege, to have a friend who helps my soul to blossom more fully.

Pansies, happiness

Gratitude and Happiness

A couple of weeks ago, the United States celebrated Mother’s Day. The day is of course hyped for card and flowers sales, and for everything anyone could dream up to give to their mother. As I mom, I get it. It’s easy to want to be celebrated, appreciated, and have the world stop and say thank you. But I’m not sure that should be the point.

I’ve never been one to like entitlement. It makes my insides hurt thinking about the ways one person can expect certain things to happen based on their expectations of how things should be. The Mother’s Day I grew up knowing has roots that feed on entitlement. “I’ve done so many things for my children that they have to give me X number of things in return.” No, I don’t think that’s quite true. Love is only true when it’s given without expectation of anything in return. I’m not a mom because I expect my kids to give me something. I’m a mom because I love my kids.

Blossoming Clematis

“Why did you do all this for me?” he asked. “I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.”

“You have been my friend,” replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.”  – E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web

So, this year, I turned Mother’s Day around. It was my day to thank my kids. It felt so much better. A heartfelt thanks is always welcome, but the truth about being a mom — and a friend — isn’t about what we get from the relationship. It’s about giving.

There is something about cultivating a life lived in gratitude, about saying thank you. It’s about celebrating the people who are in our lives, and the people who with their simple presence bring so much happiness.

4 thoughts on “Gratitude and Happiness

  1. what a spectacular idea! i want to do this for my boys next year 🙂

    1. And for a long time… Such a wonderful privilege to get to be a mom. Thanks, OurPartyof4! And happy belated Mother’s Day!

  2. I loved this: “isn’t about what we get from the relationship. It’s about giving.”

    1. Happy belated Mother’s Day, Nina! And thank you. You’re a great mom.

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