Parenting is hard. Some of my worst mothering moments have happened while I am trying to get myself ready for work, and my two young sons out the door at the same time. I’ve had my share of morning fails, mom guilt, and ugly crying in the car (yes, me) after I’ve dropped the kids off. However, there is one parenting win that I am proud to share.

My children love finding Napa Rocks. It happens so rarely for us, so when they do, they hoard them like they were made of gold. I found a Napa Rock in my car and it reminded me of a story I had read about the power of a “Gratitude Rock.” A gentleman kept a rock in his pocket and whenever he touched it, he was reminded to think of what he was grateful for.

On the way to school one morning, I handed the beautifully painted rock to my oldest son, who at the time was six and said, “This is a gratitude rock. It’s to remind us what we are grateful for.” I then asked, “What are you grateful for today?” I was expecting to hear the typical six-year-old response, “My toys, my TV, my bike, etc…” I’ll never forget what he said,

“I am grateful for the trees because they produce oxygen to help us breathe. I am grateful for me, because I am kind and smart. I am grateful for my mom and dad. They keep me safe and love me.”

I nearly swerved off the road in disbelief and from the tears in my eyes. He then passed it to my younger son who was five at the time. Because of my emotional reaction and positive praise my younger son intuitively said,

“I am grateful for the earth. I am grateful for my family, and I am grateful that we go to a good school.”

Starting the morning with the “attitude of gratitude” has transformed our day. Yes, sometimes my children express gratitude for material things (especially around the holidays)! When they do, I express gratitude for things like our warm car that keeps us dry in the rain on our way to school. I also express my gratitude for the abundance of food we have to keep us nourished and alert. The next morning my sons will once again come up with meaningful and well thought out expressions of gratitude. I love hearing what matters to them and what they value.

The amount of mom guilt I feel has been reduced dramatically. I no longer ugly cry on the way to work. Negative or stressful feelings we harbor in the morning are erased with our shift in mindset. My children go to school every day with an overall sense of well-being and happiness. They are learning to have a positive outlook on life in general.

I had no idea that this morning ritual was going to have such an impact on my family. To the person who painted this rock, I express my sincerest gratitude.



Claudette Shatto has lived in the Napa Valley for 19 years. She is married with two elementary-aged children. Although she is extremely active in her community and her sons’ school, she is not your average PTA Mom.  She avoids the Pinterest-inspired classroom potlucks and instead lends her expertise to the school’s digital communication efforts.
When not teaching at Napa Valley College you can find her in an elementary classroom teaching the Entrepreneur Mindset to 5th graders.  Her recent passion project is teaching leadership to kindergarten and first graders. She is a classic type A, life-long over-achiever and is dedicated to serving her community.