A Little Gratitude Goes a Long Way


It’s a busy time of year, and even though we’re generally having fun, it’s easy for us moms to feel burdened by everything on our shoulders.  Holiday cards?  Check.  Plan for house guests, and decorate in a tasteful but festive manner?  Check, check.  Shop and cook and clean and entertain and teach and nurture and love and keep the magic of the season alive in the hearts and minds of the next generation?  Check, check, check, sip of wine, check, check…  Stay sane?  Hmmm.

Okay, now take a breath and repeat after me: Your hard work isn’t going unnoticed!  You are appreciated!  But… if you feel like that’s not the case, then perhaps the people in your life need to be a bit better about vocalizing their gratitude.  Have a chat with them about it.  It could save your sanity, and will definitely make your days a lot happier.

Years ago, after I returned to work after having our first child, I had a slight panic attack (and full fit of resentment against my husband) when I realized how hard it was to live up to all my own expectations as a mom, wife, friend, employee, and individual (not in that order).  I felt like I was slogging through life, never able to put 100% into anything, because I was doing everything.  Of course, this was not totally accurate – and when I raised the issue with my husband, he thoughtfully commiserated and let me know that he appreciated me talking to him about how I felt… he had no idea!  And then he explained that he, too, felt like he was under water.  Who would have guessed?  But he felt like he didn’t know how to support me, couldn’t figure out what our kid needed, was having a terrible time at work since he was so low on sleep, and never had energy for a good stress-relieving workout.  He felt fat and useless, tired and clueless.  We were in the same club, after all.

It made us both feel better, to realize that we were not alone in our respective funks… but that’s not what made our conversation a game-changer.  Our big takeaway was that sometimes, expressing appreciation made all the difference in the world.  Since that time, we’ve made a special effort to check in with each other and vocalize our feelings of gratitude.  Nothing else may have changed (as far as being super-busy in all aspects of life), but having that recognition and support has made everything seem so much easier and worthwhile.  This parenting/life stuff is no joke!

It’s amazing how a simple “thanks for doing the dishes this morning” helps alleviate feelings of frustration or resentment that might otherwise have lingered after clearing a sink full of family dishes (my nemesis).  Several times a week, my husband shoots me a quick text in the afternoon just to check in and see how my day is going at work.  Is this necessary?  No.  But it does make me feel like he’s thinking about me and recognizes that I sometimes need to vent.  And when he tells me I’m doing a good job as a mom?  That’s powerful enough to make me forget about his last man cold.  Likewise, even though my husband and I both work hard, he has an objectively more high-stress and high-stakes career.  So instead of resenting that he works long hours, I try and take time to thank him for working hard and still making such an effort to be a 50/50 parent at home.  I let him know that I appreciate how he sets a good example for our kids by exercising regularly.  When he’s being funny, I say out loud how I’m so happy I married a guy with a great sense of humor. 

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not living in some delusion of never ending thanks, 24/7.  We have to try hard not to take each other for granted, and vocalizing gratitude isn’t always the most natural thing in the world.  It seems like a simple concept, but it takes constant effort to keep from falling complacent.  The good news is that the longer we’ve done this, the more natural it’s become.  And from my perspective, being aware of what I’m thankful for (so that I can articulate my gratitude) has actually made me more grateful.  The cycle feeds itself and has started rubbing off on our kids.  That’s right, I express gratitude to my toddlers, and they’ve started expressing it back to me – which goes a long way towards restoring my sanity after a long day with them.  The practice has strengthened my friendships and brought me closer to my family.  I truly believe that gratitude is a mindset that you either choose to embrace or choose to reject. 

Everyone wants to be recognized for their efforts, and everyone wants to make their loved ones feel appreciated.  What better time to start this good practice, than the time of the year most focused on togetherness and gratitude?

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Lorrie lives in Cupertino with her husband, two small children, crazy dog, and obese cat. Originally from the Chicago area, Lorrie headed west in 2010, and hasn’t looked back. She loves exploring the Bay Area, and finds that even after six years, there is always something new to discover. Lorrie is a licensed and practicing attorney in both Illinois and California. She is proud to represent employees in all manner of work-related disputes, and partners closely as Of Counsel with Caffarelli & Assoc. Ltd., a Chicago-based firm. When she is not working or chasing her kids around, Lorrie likes to tinker with home improvement projects, walk around on sidewalks and trails, zone out on the internet, and “Netflix and chill.” She also likes to run, and aspires to one day make it to a yoga class.


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