[Originally published January 2016. Revised & Updated for Thanksgiving 2016.]
Motherhood is tough, and so is being a wife and family manager. This is true whether you work outside the home or stay home full-time. The hours are long, the work is tiring, and the “thank-you”s are few and far between. And sometimes it is so easy to feel overwhelmed or resentful. It’s hard being the mom, there’s no doubt about it, and no matter what you do, there will probably always be days that you feel tired of it all.
It’s a slippery slope, though, when you start thinking negatively about your roles and responsibilities, and letting yourself dwell on negative thoughts is dangerous. Pity parties are never a one-and-done affair. One party always begets a second, and a third, and a fourth, until before you know it, you’ve become a full-time crank who can’t stand her husband and is always yelling at her kids.
There are a lot of factors that affect our relationships with our husbands and our kids, but I strongly believe that the thoughts we entertain on a regular basis are some of the most powerful determinants of our family environment. Consistently dwelling on negative thoughts about our husbands, our children, or our responsibilities cannot possibly lead to more positive feelings, attitudes, and interactions with them. It’s not possible. Being intentional about choosing positive thoughts, on the other hand, can transform a resentful heart into one spilling over with love and joy.
I have seen this to be true in my own life. One such example is my feelings toward my husband. At one point in the second or third year of our relationship, I started really struggling in our marriage. I was always frustrated with Levon, I felt he wasn’t measuring up to my expectations, and it seemed we were constantly in one fight or another. I started to question whether I had married the right man.
Fortunately, I learned about the power of focusing on your spouse’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. I started making a list of everything that I loved, admired, and respected about Levon, and before long my hand couldn’t keep up! I realized that the annoyances I was so consumed by were quite petty compared to the wonderful qualities that he brought to our marriage. I had focused so much on those faults that I had lost sight of his strengths.
In no time at all, my feelings toward him changed. I was more in love with him than ever! I couldn’t believe I ever even entertained thoughts of regret. What changed? Not him. He was exactly the same man as he had always been. It was purely my own thinking that changed.
Early this year, I experienced the power of my thoughts in my attitude toward my son. I loved Aidan, but I was starting to feel really worn down and tired of having to be “on” 24/7. I was throwing some pretty wild pity parties for myself, and I was really starting to wonder if I was cut out for motherhood at all! These feelings were especially disturbing to me since I was trying to start a blog about loving motherhood!
(**Update: I experienced these feelings all over again after the birth of our second son this fall. Rewriting this post came at a perfect time!)
Then one day I came across an acrostic for PRAY – Praise, Repent, Ask, Yield – and I realized that praise had been noticeably absent from my prayer life. From that point on, I began to start every day’s entry in my prayer journal with praise. It has done wonders for my mood; my attitude toward my husband, son, and job; and my outlook on life! Writing down my praises causes me to reflect on all the blessings in my life, reminds me of everything I have to be thankful for, and keeps me from taking my family for granted.
Being intentional about gratitude changes you. It changes your perspective, removes your blinders, and makes you see the good that has been there all along. Gratitude shifts your focus from what you don’t have to all that you do. And it makes you a more joyful person. After all, it’s hard to be grumpy about your life when you’re grateful for its blessings!
Take a minute today to reflect on all the blessings in your life, and let’s commit together to view our lives through lenses of gratitude.
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- The #1 Key to Joyful Motherhood
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- 6 Soul-Searching Questions That Will Make You a More Intentional Mother
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