I did not want to do the dishes after dinner. I did not want to sweep up all the food the baby dropped (and threw) on the floor. I did not want to scrub and oil the cast iron. I wanted to do the exact opposite, in fact. So, when my husband announced that he would be in the backyard chopping wood as I was carrying a sleepy, fussy baby down the hall to put him in the bath tub, I was less than pleased. “Less than pleased” is perhaps a bit of an understatement. I was irritated.
I spend my days caring for our 11-month-old son who is quite mobile, and likes to explore the world with his mouth. I took a safety pin out of his mouth yesterday, but let’s keep that little adventure to ourselves for now! During his morning naps, I spend my time doing one of three things: (1) I work on homework from my full time Master’s Degree program; (2) I clean the house where we live with not one, but six children; or (3) I work on the small business I have started to help contribute to paying the bills. Needless to say, I have my hands full.
It just so happened that today I had prioritized housework, something that doesn’t happen as often as it should. Paying the bills and getting my education seem like worthwhile excuses most of the time. I had spent a solid 3 hours (Thanks to nap time and putting one of the older kids “baby distracting skills” to work) making the house presentable. I can’t tell you how much I dislike cleaning the floors, it’s my least favorite chore, but today I even managed to sweep, vacuum, and mop! The house was ready for company, not just livable for the family. Of course my husband commented how nice it looked when he walked through the door after work, but that didn’t translate into his help cleaning up after dinner which is what I was really looking for.
I got the baby to bed and got to work on the dishes. At first I was stewing as I rinsed each plate and put it in the dishwasher. I had worked hard all day, the least he could do was help me after dinner! But then I caught myself. How many times had I scolded the children for similar behavior?
“But Mom, I cleaned the kitchen yesterday, why do I have to do it again today?”
Things came into sharp perspective as I recognized in myself what I had worked so hard to help my children understand and embrace.
“We are all part of this family. The kitchen gets dirty every time we eat a meal, and it has to be cleaned up. Sometimes you will be the one cleaning it up, and sometimes it will be someone else’s turn, and it won’t always seem fair, but it has to be done. Do you know what makes unpleasant tasks go by faster? Gratitude and a good attitude. An attitude of gratitude!”
I am so grateful to be able to stay home and raise my son, to be able to instill values in my children that are lacking so much in many children these days. I am grateful for the opportunity to go to school full time, and to be able to pursue a passion in the form of a business. None of those things would be possible without my husband’s hard work and devotion to our family. I am so grateful that my husband supports me in all this and more. I am grateful to have the opportunity to work hard cleaning the house to show my love in acts of service. I am grateful for our meal spent around the dinner table, full of laughter and conversation. If the price of all these amazing things is 15 minutes doing the dishes and sweeping the floors, isn’t it worth it?
It is so easy to get caught up in our selfishness and our plans for ourselves that we lose perspective and focus on the wrong things. Let’s practice having and “attitude of gratitude!”
My husband finished chopping wood and joined me on the couch for some cuddle time before bed. I felt so blessed after thinking about everything I have in my life to be grateful for, and he felt happy after chopping his wood and walking in to a clean kitchen. Instead of the fight that we might have had, we had a pleasant evening chatting about the kids and plans for the house.
You don’t realize what kind of difference your attitude makes until you look back and recognize how many arguments could have been avoided if you had just looked at things through the lens of gratitude. What would your life look like if you decided to serve instead of being selfish? If you were humble instead of entitled? If you were grateful instead of thankless? What if both you and your spouse were all these things?
Your challenge for the week is to find a way to bring gratitude into your every day life. Find something that works for you. It could be starting your day with gratitude that you woke up that morning. It could be telling your spouse three things that you are grateful for at the end of the day. It could be writing down what you are grateful for and why. Just find something that resonates with you and do it!