Last Sunday, my teenaged daughter and I worked in the church nursery during the Sunday School hour. This is one of my least favorite ministries, I have to tell you the truth. I’d much rather be relaxing in the adult class, listening to the teacher expound on how much God loves us and what that particular Greek word over there means and where we see that principle in the Old Testament or what have you.

But it was our turn, so there I stood in my stocking feet, holding a baby and her bottle while listening to Fun Sunday School Songs for Children on repeat in the CD player. In the rush to get my own family out the door that morning, I had neglected to down my third cup of coffee. So my mood was altogether less than sunny.

The toddler pointed at her snacks on the counter. “What do you say?” my daughter Adana prompted.

“I don’t think she can speak clearly yet.” I started toward the sippy cup.

“Yes, she can say please and thank you. I taught her a couple weeks ago.” Adana grabbed the cup and crackers, then faced the toddler expectantly.

“Peeeeees!” I heard it plain as day.

“And?” Adana held out the snack.

“FANX!” Large grins filled both faces as they began their Sunday snack time ritual together at the plastic table.

I think watching your child teach a valuable lesson to a younger child is sure confirmation that lesson has been learned. So I started to pat myself on the back a little for just a moment: Hey, I mommed really well! I teached her to say her please-n-thank-you. I learned her real good. Gratitude lesson? CHECK!

But my conscience stopped me from gloating. The irony came crashing down on me the next moment: it was a lesson I, myself, needed to learn. For while my teen sweetly served that morning, I had done nothing but grumble and complain.

While momming and homeschooling and nursery-minding may be thankless jobs, that is no reason to become unthankful myself. Yet in so many ways, that was exactly what I had done. My own lack of thanks had tripped me up that week more times than I could count:

  1. I was unthankful for the difficult subjects that gave me opportunity to work closely with my student.
  2. I was unthankful for the slower pace of arthritis in the cold months, time to snuggle and read and rest.
  3. I was unthankful for the coming holiday events, the memories and the celebration of God Incarnate.
  4. I was unthankful for the manifold gifts of God: His Spirit, His Word, my family, homeschooling, church, friends, salvation.

For me, personally, November and December mark the most difficult season of the year. The special events, the haunted memories, the obligations, the cost, the out-of-the-routine chaos of the holidays all put me on edge and out of sorts. Even without nursery duty.

But perhaps that’s the very point.

Maybe instead of grumbling and complaining, God is calling me to take the blessings of the season from His outstretched hand with a simple, feeble “thank you” as the provision I need. Maybe instead of ingratitude and selfishness, He wants me to learn the simple lesson of thankfulness.

Maybe it’s time for Mom to go back to this most basic lesson. 

This article was published in the November/December 2016 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine.

Lea Ann Garfias is a freelance writer whose words have appeared in a plethora of ebooks and websites. She would not say plethora if she did not mean plethora. A homeschool grad and homeschooling mommy of four, Lea Ann drinks a lot of coffee, reads a lot of books, and plays a lot of Bach in Dallas, Texas.