Gadson COLUMN: Giving Thanks: Even When They Don

Provided One day, Thomas will learn that life is an ocean. It is my duty to teach him to navigate the waters, and, for that, I am thankful.

Motherhood is, undoubtedly, the hardest job EVER. I dare anyone to challenge me on that. The fact that I am a mother of eight certainly doesn’t mean I’ve got this whole mom thing on lock, quite the contrary.

If anything, it means that I probably flub up more than most moms. The way I see it, more kids equal more opportunities for mistakes. Mistakes like the dreaded “Mommy Meltdown!”

You know what I’m talking about. It’s that moment when you’re already stressed to the max, you find soaking wet towels and what could easily classify as a small body of water on the kids’ bathroom floor courtesy of a bath time water fight, and SNAP!, you lose it! And by lose it, I mean EVERYBODY gets in trouble, because mama has decided she has had it!

That was me a few months ago, certainly not one of my finer moments. The Bathroom Saga caught me at a fragile time when I was feeling depleted: running on empty, with no reserve.

Sometimes, when the exhaustion takes over, I lose focus. A funky attitude takes over, and selfish questions whirl around in my mind. “I give and give and give, and what thanks do I get?” “What about me? When is someone going to pour into me?”

As moms, we give of ourselves; we give to those we love; we give in to the needs of our children; and, oftentimes, we give up on our personal wants for the sake of our children’s happiness. For us, giving becomes as natural as breathing, and we do it with little to no thanks. This constant pouring out of ourselves, combined with the challenges that life brings, can leave us feeling rundown and unappreciated.

When I begin to lose sight of what’s really important, I think of moms less fortunate than I: moms whose children are so ill they have lost the ability to run wildly through the house, moms whose children have passed away and can no longer leave messy rooms or track dirt across a freshly mopped floor.

I think of mothers such as Stylicia Bowden, mother of two and Lowcountry poet and author, whose daughter Serenity died when she was only two years old.

“When my baby daughter died, a part of me died, and it was so hard to even want to push past my emptiness,” says Bowden. “However, I had to push past the devastation and be determined to make a healthy life for my oldest daughter. It was not fair to her for me to stop living.”

Bowden is correct. Why should our children pay the price? We cannot allow our tiredness to get in the way of them just being kids.

Does this mean they receive a free pass when they mess up? No way. We just don’t need to dive off the deep end when they do. It simply means we need to change our attitudes when we begin to allow the small things to seem insurmountable.

When we become bogged down by all that we are giving, that’s when we should dig deeply within ourselves and give some more. Only this time, we need to give thanks for being entrusted with their care.

Bowden agrees that our children are blessings, and it’s all in our outlook.

“My daughter is a constant reminder of why I need to be better and do better. She is the light in my life that shines bright,” she says.

When we react negatively to the building stresses of motherhood, we become the ones incapable of gratitude. And the reality is our kids are not going to be thankful right now. They’re kids; they’re still learning.

“Motherhood may not be easy,” Bowden says, “but in the end, it is the most rewarding gift in the world.”

I agree. There are no greater gifts than the smiles, laughter, hugs and kisses that children bring. One day, when they’re much older, they will appreciate all we have done. Until then, we must continue giving thanks, even when they don’t.

Donloyn Gadson, wife and mother of eight, is a writer, columnist and blogger. She is also a floral designer and owner of Creole Magnolia Creations, a floral design and ladies boutique. When asked how she does it all, she replies, “Coffee and pixie dust!” Follow her blog at Contact her at

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