I am folding laundry, but I can hear the strains of the harp from the next room.

My son yells to me from the kitchen, where my phone is charging and he is doing his homework: “Your alarm is going off!”

“I’ll be right in!” I didn’t mean for him to be distracted from his task.

“It’s okay, I’ve got it!” He appears in the family room doorway. “It’s 8:45. Why do you need to know that anyway?”

“That’s my gratitude alarm, to remind me to be grateful for all I have.”


Yes, really.

That alarm has been going off every weeknight for more than a year, but this is the first time my son has asked about it. Since I want him to sit back down at the kitchen table and finish his homework, I don’t elaborate. But I am grateful that he asked. The next morning I will place my iPad next to his plate of waffles, so that he can read a post that I wrote about it.

to do list

My son is a bit of an absent-minded professor. I noticed signs of this when he began preschool, but became more aware of his nature as he progressed through Primary and Elementary Years. The evidence was mounting: forgotten water bottles in his locker, jackets left on the edge of the basketball court and flash drives discovered sticking out of computers. By fourth grade, his teachers had devised a system for him to remember his homework at the end of every day.

My role is to review the checklist as he buckles his seat belt in carpool line, in case we need to drive back around to claim a forgotten item:

Water bottle
Lunch box
Flash drive

If he hesitates, I repeat the item in an insistent tone until he issues the clear reply, “Got it!”

At home he writes his schedule and reminders on a calendar that hangs in his bedroom. To his credit, he consults it regularly and is outgrowing the need for parental reminders. Still, there are occasional lapses, which generally involve cleaning up and getting ready for bed. I try not to nag:

Did you hang up your jacket?
Did you put your homework in your binder?
Did you brush your teeth?

By the time he goes to bed at night, I’ve issued countless reminders. Then I sit down to write dozens of items on my own To-do List for the next day, typing reminders in my phone calendar to pick up the dry cleaning, gas up the car, empty the recycling and call the pharmacy.

I am the Reminder-in-Chief. I am exhausted.

It’s easy to get lost in the endless details and difficult to maintain focus on the big picture, especially when I’m trying to decipher messages that I’ve scrawled on sticky notes late at night.  The gratitude alarm forces me to pause—if only long enough to silence it—and reflect on the blessings of daily life.

* * * * * * *

I am poring over my morning list and pouring the last of the coffee into a commuter mug, when I realize that it is Thursday.

“Remember you have play rehearsal after school today. Did you pack an extra snack?”

I look up at my son, who is carefully closing the cover of my iPad.

“It’s good writing. I liked it,” he tells me.

“Thanks. I’m grateful for the feedback.”

“You’re welcome. I’m happy to give the feedback.”

I pause to take in the moment, as my son barrels past me toward the bathroom to brush his teeth before school.

Sometimes the joys of being a mother are so apparent there’s no need for a reminder.


Comments (6)

Ironically, while reading this post, a voice from the staircase said: “you forgot to pull up the bathmat again!”

Jonah, I appreciate your sense of irony.

Love that kid!

Me, too. Of the 3 stooges, he’s definitely the comic relief.

Oh, I love this post … both the idea of a gratitude alarm (so inspired!) and the way you write about your son. And I can relate to the “Reminder in Chief” title. I recently saw a Facebook graphic that talked about how a mom’s mind is like a computer with two thousand tabs open and I had to laugh in agreement.

It must be something when your kids are old enough to read your posts. “It’s good writing, I liked it” from your own child … that must be very sweet to hear.

Thanks, Ginny! I love the image of the open tabs…I’ll look for it on FB.

The feedback from my 11 yr old was sweet and his comment about irony was entertaining. It’s weird and wonderful to have kids who are not only old enough to read my posts but also articulate enough to contribute to my next book. All three, in fact, have threatened to go into the family business. Oy!

Sent off my review of your wonderful book and waiting to hear back about revisions. It will go live on Blog Tour in the next couple of weeks.

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