Every year when I am asked the question, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?” I say the same things.
I want to be able to do all the stuff I used to before I had kids.
I want someone else to clean my house.
I want some appreciation for everything I do.
But I have been doing a lot of thinking.
And the best gift I could possibly receive for Mother’s Day can only be given to me by one person.
My husband can’t give it to me, and my kids can’t give it to me.
I recently came across that quote from Toni Morrison when she was on Oprah back in 2000:
“When a kid walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s child, does your face light up? That’s what they’re looking for. When my children used to walk in the room when they were little, I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers, if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. And so you think your affection and your deep love is on display cause you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face. What’s wrong now?… But then if you let your, as I tried, from then on, to let your face speak what’s in your heart, because when they walked in the room, I was glad to see them. It’s just as small as that.”
I know that my kids feel loved.
But I also know I have allowed frustration and resentment to affect the degree to which my face lights up when my children walk in the room.
I have not always been consistent with my kids. I have not taken care of myself. I have not gotten enough sleep. I have not been clear or completely honest when communicating with my husband. I have been reactive and I’ve justified and consequently modeled behavior that isn’t effective or healthy. I’ve been passive aggressive and I’ve tolerated treatment I shouldn’t have, and I’ve bottled a lot of stuff up.
Years and years of stuff.
All of this has dimmed the light in my face.
I don’t want to give my kids the critical face when they walk in the room.
And in order to really, truly light up when they walk in the room, I need to give myself some gifts for Mother’s Day.
I need to give myself the gift of consistency.
I need to give myself the gift of forgiveness.
I need to give myself the gift of being able to say no.
I need to give myself the gift of rest and unwavering, daily — and even hourly — self-care.
I need to give myself the gift of letting go of things that don’t really matter.
I need to give myself the gift of letting go of anger.
I need to give myself the gift of prioritizing.
I need to give myself the gift of setting boundaries.
I need to give myself the gift of no longer tolerating treatment and behavior that is unacceptable or unhealthy.
Because all of those things have been draining the light out of my face until sometimes the bulb is almost completely burned out.
Don’t get me wrong.
I’m not miserable 24/7.
But if I’m going to be honest, Facebook sees this face :
and this face:
and this face:
more than my kids do.
That’s not the mother I want to be.
I want to give myself the gifts of consistency and forgiveness and mercy and boundaries and saying yes to the things I want and no to the things I don’t want and self-reflection and self respect and self care and letting go of all the things that don’t serve me and really design my life so that my face lights up any time my kids walk in the room.
This year that is exactly what I am going to do.
Because that is what I truly want for Mother’s Day.