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To My Precious Family on Valentine’s Day,
I have an unconventional gift for you this year. It’s not a fun message incorporating candy bar labels or a platter of cookies lovingly frosted in pink and red. This Pinterest-loving mama doesn’t have anything crafty or adorable for you this Valentine’s Day.
Instead, I have something broken and tattered. It seems to only function as I want it to some of the time. My gift for you this year isn’t very pretty…really, it’s far from perfect. Many might roll their eyes and turn their noses at this gift because it’s not very trendy. I can only hope this day is the start of something beautiful, and someday you’ll be able to look back on this as the day change marked our home.
My gift to you this year is my heart. My broken and tattered valentine.
It’s broken because of the pattern of angry outbursts I’ve fallen into. It’s tattered because I’ve neglected the tending that a healthy heart requires. It malfunctions so often because I’ve let the seeds of entitlement take root, edging out a pleasant countenance that I’d choose if I were embracing each moment with mindfulness and gratitude.
“If we see life through only one lens, we believe the misconception that everyone in the world has what we do, and our blessings start looking a lot like expectations.” ~Kristen Welch, Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World
I was surprised when I realized the root of my discontent and lack of joy could be found in entitlement. But I couldn’t deny it. I’m not one to ask for a bigger house, nicer car, fancier clothes, or extravagant vacations. But my hard heart has been crying about other things: putting grad school on hold when I got pregnant (though I said itwas my choice and I’d go back someday, my heart seems to have held onto the dream), packing away my art supplies (yes they’re tucked neatly in a tote I could pull out, but where is the quiet space for me to create amidst the exhausted chaos of motherhood?), living in a strange city thousands of miles from family (how does date night even happen when baby sitters keep taking off for college?!). In neglecting to choose to see my life through a lens of gratitude, I’ve come to focus on all that’s “wrong.” My heart is tattered and I am grumpy.
Motherhood took me by surprise and changed my life in ways I didn’t see coming. Though I’ve loved you deeply since the second we met, it’s been hard. In the years since you made me a mama, I’ve wrestled ugly demons of post-partum depression, job loss, broken friendships, weight gain, and a few others I’ve successfully slain. I’ve lost myself and become someone I hardly recognize. It’s time to get intentional about being the mother I want you to have.
So, my loves, today I choose you. I choose gratitude. I am beyond thankful for two bright, happy, and healthy children, a warm home, and a loving marriage. If I have nothing else, I have the world. You are my treasure. I am choosing today to think, speak, and live in a healthful way that fills our home and your memories with vibrancy and joy.
Today we will begin, in small or large ways (I’ll take them all), to practice mindful, grateful living. We’ll keep a gratitude journal. We’ll seek out ways to serve and give. You are my constant reminder that cultivating gratitude and a home characterized by joy is the art I am called to create now.
The months I’ve spent sans discipline and direction have shown without a doubt that a legacy of love, gratitude, health, and joy doesn’t just happen. Like a tender plant, it flourishes with careful tending, daily attentiveness, and intentional cultivating. My Valentine for you, this tattered and broken heart, is the legacy I want for you.
I owe a huge thanks to Kristen Welch for rocking my world and inspiring my change. Her new book, Raising Grateful Kids in an entitled World, gave me a new lens to see myself, motherhood & the legacy I want to leave for my family.
Rachel is mom to two young kids balancing homeschool, freelance work in digital marketing, a passion for art, and the pursuit of gratitude. You can find her adventuring through life on Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.