I took my kids to the zoo today. The 4 year-old had a marvelous time; she had to be pulled from every exhibit, destroyed an ice cream cone before the sun could, had a princess crown painted on her cheeks and forehead, and giggled her way around and around the classic carousel. In the truck, buckled in for the trip home, hair pulled back to protect her face, that piece of art, she said, "Thank you for taking us to the zoo, Daddy," and glided off to sleep. I smiled into the mirror, watched her for a second, and said to her subconscious, "thank you, my sweet princess."
My family raised me to believe that I could never thank them enough. It was rarely said, but always passive-aggressively present. "I am a great (grandpa, grandma, mom) and you don't tell me that nearly enough. Someday you'll understand all the things I/we do for you." I was sure they were right, even though I was in the middle of an unhappy childhood, and it made me feel worse to realize that I was ungrateful on top of everything else.
It pleases me that my daughter knows that a great day should not go unnoticed; it is good to be grateful for all that we have. But I don't need to be thanked for doing my job. Not this job at least. It was my choice to add my children to my family. They didn't have any say in the matter then, and they don't now. The least I can do is give them a fighting chance at a happy life.