My husband asked me this past week what I wanted and what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day.
“I don’t know,” I mumbled.
“Well, I need some guidance or you’ll be massively disappointed,” he replied.
“I know. I just don’t know what I want, you know?!” I answered exasperated.
And I didn’t really. Because every year when he asks me this exact question, I have the same exact internal fight.
Part of me really, really, REALLY, wants to ask for the entire day off to be by myself, to sit in peace and quiet, to pee without interruption, to catch up on the to-do’s on my “I wish I could get to list,” to call my girlfriends and talk for a whole five minutes, and to reflect on life and realize just how grateful I feel and how much I love my kiddos.
And well, the other part of me thinks the exact opposite! And not just because I feel guilty being away from my kids (the reason I am a mom in the first place!) but also because I love my kids and genuinely want to be with them on this special day! Yep, this part of me wants to spend all day with my kiddos, laughing, smiling, sharing stories, creating all sorts of wonderful new memories to add to the list all while relishing that I can do so much more easily because I have a small “free pass” to be a little less responsible that day. This part of me also wants to just sit and watch my sons play and well, just be, because that makes me feel so grateful that they are mine and fills my heart with such immense love.
Oh, the internal fight! Do I ask for the day off that my body and mind crave or do I ask that we do an exciting family adventure together, which I also crave? Ah, such decisions and year after year, no clear answer. The only certainty that I do have every year is that I wish for some really awesome store bought gift (that my husband would “flawlessly” pick out after mind-reading my un-made-up mind) and some really awesome homemade gift from my boys. As I flipped through magazines the other night looking for ideas to telepathically send to my husband, for the first time I had another piece of clarity regarding Mother’s Day. Three actually.
First, I could please both parts of my mind. Duh! I could have time to myself AND time with my family and not feel any guilt, but just peace and joy, both by myself and with my boys.
Second, I realized what I already knew–I really didn’t need anything! Sure a pretty blue tray for the kitchen would be nice, but so not necessary. And yes, another pretty picture frame would be nice, but also so not necessary. This all led me to the third clear piece of information, the way more important piece if you ask me.
I realized that, “The best gift for me for Mother’s Day isn’t a gift that my husband and kids can give me. They already give me what I want weekly–precious time alone, precious time together and precious gifts here and there. There isn’t anything more they can give me, tangible or intangible. Nope, the best gift for me for Mother’s Day can’t come from anyone else; it needs to come from me. And I really, really want it because I have been craving it for a while now.”
So what is it I want you ask? What do I want to give to myself?
I want to give myself the gift of taking care of me without feeling guilty.
I want to give myself the gift of enjoying a relaxing moment without feeling unproductive.
I want to give myself the gift of forgiveness, much, much more often.
I want to give myself the gift of less criticism, every, single, day (hour?!)
I want to give myself the gift of believing in myself, in my strengths, when doubt arises.
I want to give myself the gift of acceptance; I want to look in the mirror and see more beauty and less ugly, both in and out. And, I want to look in the mirror and not think of what I still need to change, but what I have already changed, no matter how small.
I want to give myself the gift of security; I want to walk down the streets and feel more comfortable in who I am, in my decisions, in my parenting and less concerned about what others think I am (or am not.)
I want to give myself the gift of confidence that with every day that passes, I am doing a little better at doing all of the above and even more so, that it is okay to be struggling with all of the above! Yes, I want to give myself the gift of confidence that even though I feel that there is room for personal improvement, that the base is still pretty awesome and acceptable!
So in other words, I want to give myself the gifts of self-love, self-appreciation, and self-confidence.
Yes, those are the gifts I want for Mother’s Day because well, because I know that I deserve them and that I have been depriving myself of them for way, waaaay too long. I have definitely improved giving myself all of the above gifts since I started The Orange Rhino Challenge, like big time. Tracking my triggers made it obnoxiously clear that when I am down on myself, I got lost in la-la land (also known as “I totally stink-stink land”) and was much more apt to snap or yell unnecessarily. So, I started talking to myself and being nicer to me and it totally helped.
But this Mother’s Day, I know that I am still depriving myself of some of the self-love, self-appreciation and self-confidence that I deserve; that we all deserve! Just to be clear, I am not out to become massively egotistical and obnoxious. I just want to become more even. You know, if you have a scale and the left is “I’m not good enough” land and the right is way-to-confident land, I want to be in the middle-ish. Having the scale weigh too much towards the “not good enough land” is not only punitive, but it also a clear contributor to the stress and occasional unhappiness in my life! And honestly I am tired of all the crap I give myself! Who needs or wants that? “Not I,” said The Orange Rhino! I want to indulge myself instead.
Ooh, I even feel guilty and obnoxious saying that! But it is true and it is OKAY to want to spoil myself with kinder words and thoughts!
So my dear husband, if you and the kids want to give me anything – please just help me find these gifts for myself by continuing to love me and believe in me, not just today, but everyday. These gifts are really the only things I need and want right now. Okay, not the only things, but some of the really important ones. I feel like (or naively believe) that even just a little of these gifts will make me a little happier which will make me a little better mom which will make me feel happier which will make me an even better mom…and so on and so forth. So don’t give me a doughnut, or a cookie, or a muffin. Give me the support and assurance that’s it is not just okay to give back to myself, but absolutely deserved.
I’m not the only one who deserves these gifts. You all deserve them. Yes, you also deserve a trip to the spa…a long one! Yes, you also deserve to sleep in and have breakfast served to you in bed. And yes, you also deserve to be slobbered in kisses and smothered in hugs. But for real, you also deserve to give yourself kindness. And not just today, Mother’s Day, but everyday. You both deserve it AND have earned it. You are a great mom. You are showing up and trying everyday to do your best…and that is what matters.
(Hey Orange Rhino, think you should print that last line up and post it everywhere in your house so you say it to yourself a thousand times a day? Yeah, I thought the answer would be, “Yes.” And if you don’t do so hot at “improving” forgive yourself and move on, okay?!)
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Read more about how I mostly figured out how to give back to myself in order to keep yelling at bay in my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too.” It’s a 30-day guide complete with 100 alternatives to yelling, simple actions to follow, and honest stories from my journey to inspire you on your own. Pre-order it here for arrival early September…just in time for back to school when the change in routine is getting to everyone and the “yells” are really wanting to be part of that routine!