Guest blog post by Tami Hackbarth - host of the 100% Guilt-Free Self-Care Podcast.
Mother’s Day is a cause for celebration for some and for others it is more complicated. Someone recently described having a push and pull with it depending on where they were in their life.
Some use Mother’s Day to celebrate the maternal figures in their lives - biological mothers, step mothers, foster mothers, aunts and grandmothers and those that have been nurturing figures in their lives. Some celebrate the fact that they’ve given birth and are parenting those children. There are brunches, mimosas, flowers, cards and various other celebrations.
For others with more complicated feelings about Mother’s Day, the day can be filled with sadness, confusion, envy, jealousy, resentment and feelings other than joy and appreciation.
Many of us have complicated relationships with our mothers, some of our mothers have died, some of us have struggled with fertility and haven’t yet become mothers, and still others of us have given birth and other people are parenting those they haven’t given birth to.
If you have more complicated feelings about Mother’s Day and mothers, please know you are not alone. If your feelings about Mother’s Day are uncomplicated, please know those around you may not share that experience.
So what do we do when Mother’s Day comes each year? We give ourselves the Gift of True Self-Care. I’m offering a 10 Gifts of True Self-Care with the understanding that you will take what you need and pass on what doesn’t work for you.
10 Ways to Give the Gift of True Self-Care This Mother’s Day
The gift of permission to feel what you feel - Not everyone experiences Mother’s Day, mothering or moms in the same why. It’s time to let go of the idea we will all celebrate mothers the same way. There isn’t one single Mother’s Day experience you are missing out on. As many people there are in the world, that’s how many experiences there are.
Exercise: write a letter to yourself or your mother about your feelings about mothers, mothering, your own mother. Just let it out. Burn it, shred it, or send it. It’s up to you.
The gift of impermanence - Knowledge that different years bring different feelings. Nothing lasts forever - not the good feelings or the bad feelings For example, before I became a mother, we sent cards and went to brunch some years. Other years it was calls and thank you cards. After our adoption, I was filled with unexpected feelings of compassion and loss for my daughter’s birth mother. After my mother died, Mother’s Day was filled with grief and longing.
Exercise: Sit quietly for a minute. Ask yourself what you are feeling about Mother’s Day this year. Write your feelings and allow yourself space to be with what is right now.
The gift of letting go of expectations otherwise known as the gift of letting go of should - We have choices on how we interact with Mother’s Day. We get to write the script for how we want it to go. We get to decide how we spend that day. When we let go of should, we open ourselves to possibilities that didn’t exist before.
Exercise: Sit quietly for a minute. Ask yourself what you are feeling expected to do or who you are expected to be or how you are expected to act. Write about the feelings you have about those expectations. Make a list of what you would rather do instead. Decide what you will do with this new found information.
The gift of boundaries with your mother - Boundaries simply mean letting people know what is ok with you and what isn’t.
Exercise: Sit quietly for a minute. Ask yourself what is ok with you and what doesn’t sit right with you. Ask yourself what you’d prefer instead of what you are currently experiencing. You may bring this up with your mother or not. Your choice.
The gift of boundaries AS a mother - What do you want your children and partner to know? What do they need to know? What boundaries do you need to set or hold with them?
Exercise: Sit quietly. Ask yourself in what ways have you been clear with your children and partner? In what ways could your communication about your needs, wants and desires be made more clear?
The gift of forgiveness - Forgive means to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake. I am not suggesting condoning abusive behavior. Forgiveness is about acknowledging and moving beyond the behavior for our own sake. This includes feelings we have toward ourselves for past behaviors.
Exercise: Sit quietly. Ask yourself who could use some forgiveness this Mother’s Day? What stories do we have to give up in order to release yourself from this pain?
The gift of self-compassion - By speaking to yourself kindly, understanding we’re all suffering in some way and paying attention to when we judge ourselves and others we practice self-compassion. Want to learn more about self-compassion? Check out this episode.
Exercise: Sit quietly. Notice your self-talk. Is your inner mean girl always telling you how you aren’t doing things right? Is there a way to change that self-talk to something neutral or leaning toward positive? Who are you judging? Could you imagine yourself as the other person - a flawed human being - and acknowledge they have problems too? Could you give yourself and them a break? Could you show them and yourself some grace? What if you believed everyone is always doing the best they can? Would things change then?
The gift of listening - What would be your perfect Mother’s Day?
Pretend it doesn’t even exist? Done!
Breakfast in bed planned, cooked & cleaned up by your kids? Done!
Church with your partner followed by champagne brunch? Done!
Exercise: Ask yourself what would feel good to you and then do everything in your power to make it happen. This is the time to ask for exactly what you want.
Rosie Molinary, author of Beautiful You A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance, advocates for us to ask: What do I need right now more than anything else? Then give it to yourself.
The gift of alone time - What if all you want is to be left alone?
Exercise: Ask for it.
This one was revolutionary for me. As the mama to a high energy little one all I wanted was alone time to recharge and renew myself.
The gift of community - Motherhood in all forms can be lonely. Sometimes what we really want is to be in the company of other women.
Exercise: Host a gathering of women either at home or your favorite place. It can be a potluck in the park or donuts and coffee at a cafe or a three course brunch. Spending time with other women feeds not just our bellies, but our spirits.
Some of this might feel really hard because we are wrapped up in cultural and familial expectations as women, mothers and daughters. I totally get it. True self-care creates a life where we advocate for ourselves, where we do what hasn’t been done before and we change what we feel needs to be changed. Take what serves you and leave the rest.
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