My daughter and I “say prayers” as an extension of her bedtime ritual. Given, she and I have a mixed religious background (which is code for we celebrate Passover and Christmas) our prayer sessions are more gratitude-connected than specific God-centered. It works for us and the sentiment is more practical and authentic. My daughter in her super independent and loquacious self, recently put a kibosh on my guided Thank-you’s by crafting her own list of people, places and things worthy of bedtime mention. She is generous with her gratitude. Besides her me, her grandparents, aunt, teachers and besties, Minny Mouse and Sophia The First often make the cut.
One night, in response to one of my helpful although unwelcome prompts, she initiated a challenging, ‘let’s keep it real, Mama’ dialogue about why certain people are not in her prayers. How did she phrase it - “no thank-you to them”…“They don’t do good things like I want”. I dutifully replied with my Kumbaya romanticism, “We pray for everyone, because everyone deserves blessings and there is something good in everyone - everyone is in our life for a reason, whether we realize it or like it at the time. They are here to help us even when it seems that they are against us”. She gave me an unspoken, “Whatever, you say Mama” and closed her eyes. She kept it real - that's for sure.
As she drifted off to sleep, spiraling curls about her pillow, a slight snore, with visions of dancing puppies, ice cream and all things pure in her dreams, I thought of the contrary, difficult, icky people in my life who are not on my “Thank-you for them” list. See, here’s the fundamental truth of the matter - it’s easy being thankful for those who give what you receive, do as you ask, are there in a pinch or at your beck and call, stand resolutely by your side everyday, hold your hand, sooth your soul, and expand your heart. Yet, in all bare naked transparency, some of my major growth, significant life changes and successes have germinated from pushes down, turned backs and blatant no’s. Perhaps like Katy Perry sings, “Maybe a reason why all the doors are closed, so you could open one that leads you to the perfect road”. (Yes, I did just quote Katy Perry) So, in that moment, beside my innocent spiritual little girl and in true parental maturity, I walked my talk, prayed/gave thanks for those who aren’t or have not been very nice and don’t do good things like I want but for whom I am profoundly grateful. Because without them, I may not be the me, I am so blessed to be.