Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Let's All Move On, Shall We?

Coming up for air after drowning in the Mother's Day tsunami.  I'm one of those who dreads the day, spends it anxiously awaiting "the calls", and judging my mothering skills by how much attention is paid - or not paid - in homage to me.  It's ridiculous, I know.  This year was no different.  It started out sitting through an unbearable hour of church listening to Mother's Day praise about everyone's angel mothers.  I kept thinking that if I'd been a better mother we'd all be together today.  (Really?  From Denver?  From Arizona?  Good mothering can change state boundaries or the need
to move out of them?)  You see the descent into Crazy Town.
I was blessed with the best husband anyone could ever pick out for me.  He understands me even when I go a little nuts.  He is patient and long suffering.  He is not, however, one of those husbands who goes out and gets me flowers or a gift on Mother's Day.  I am not, after all, his mother - or even the mother of HIS children.  Nevertheless, it's a little hard to see all of the planning other husbands put into the day, making sure the little wifey gets her due pampering.  I did wash, and he offered to carry the laundry basket.  But he does so much for me on a regular basis - little gifts of love and service every day - I have no right to complain about a thing.  It was just the madness of the moment making little things into big issues.  Further descent into Crazy Town.
My youngest son had offered to take me to dinner.  Me.  Alone.  Now, you'd have to know a little family history to understand how I took that.  My sweet husband is very different in personality from my three children.  He is quiet and withdrawn - sometimes to the point of seeming a little cranky.  He likes peace and calm and enjoys his solitude.  He does not like a houseful of people and noise.  He isn't someone who enjoys small talk or silly conversation (which the rest of us adore).  Not because he doesn't like the people, but because it wears him out being sociable.  It's hard for him to be "on."  He's a behind the scenes kind of guy.  When we're alone he can be hysterically funny with a wicked sense of humor, but my children have only seen that side of him a time or two.  Contrast that with their own dad, who is the force in the room, the life of every party.  You see the conundrum.  A man who quietly loves his Lakers, and who will whip up the game feast himself, contrasted with a man who enthusiastically loves all sports and is content with eating hot dogs, or whatever's easy.  ANYWAY - because L can be prickly at times I took the dinner exclusion personally and very much to heart.  All I've ever wanted was a family who had fun together and enjoyed each other's company, and that's turned out to be the greatest challenge in my life.  So I turned down the invite to eat out.  And I felt TERRIBLE.
Somewhere around 4 or 5:00 I had a thought.  I think it was not my own thought, but because it came into my heart so sweetly and peacefully it got my attention.  It occurred to me that I hadn't sincerely wished anyone else a Happy Mother's Day.  Not my mother (we'd made plans for this next Saturday but I hadn't called her on that day) not my daughter, not my daughter in law.  The thought further whispered to me that I would feel better if I extended myself to others and made those calls.  And so I did.
Katie had had one of those amazing days that every mother hopes for.  An attentive husband who got her flowers, children who brought her breakfast in bed, a new outfit to wear on her day.  She so deserved all of it.  Her voice was happy, and it began to lift my dark mood.  I felt her love for me, and I felt lighter.  She is one of my very best friends, and I knew I was on the right path.

My next call was to Ronna.  She didn't actually answer, but in a few minutes Rex called back.  His voice sounded happy to talk to me, happy to tell me about how things were going with them.  He put little Lexi on the phone and she chattered happily for a few minutes about her recent birthday party.  She told me that the Married Ariel doll I'd sent was "so beautiful."  Her sweet voice was sunshine to me.  And then Ronna got on and we had the kind of visit that I love to have with her.  I told her what an amazing mother she is and I could feel her love for me.  I'm not her mother - she doesn't have to love me, but she does.  My heart began to sing a little.

I called my own mother.  She'd been at my brother's for dinner.  I wished her a happy Mother's Day and we reaffirmed our plans for this coming Saturday.  She sounded good, even though I know we're both missing Grandma this year.  I'm looking forward to spending the day with her on Saturday and having some fun.

Next call: returning my youngest son's call.  He was concerned that I hadn't wanted to go to dinner and assured me it had nothing to do with not wanting L there.  They'd wanted to take me somewhere really nice as a treat, and one more person would have broken the budget.  OH... I hadn't thought of that... So, as usual, I'd jumped to conclusions that weren't true.  I'd been on the way to ruining Mother's Day for myself.  I did explain, however, that it made me uncomfortable to exclude anyone and I'd rather go somewhere very casual instead.  I'm really not a fancy dinner kind of girl anyway - I'm really not.  Just give me some fish tacos.  We're going to dinner tonight instead and I'm looking forward to spending the evening with him and Ashley.  I'll have to eat crow and apologize for being difficult and silly.  But that's OK - those two are the sweetest, most understanding people you could find.  I love them, and amazingly, they love me.  Isn't that incredible?  An emotional basket case like me...

So the lesson learned here (which I sincerely wish to not have to repeat next year): Drop the insecurity about past mistakes and faults.  I did my best then - I do my best now.  My worth is not tallied in terms of flowers and gifts given to me, but rather in the love and service I've given to others.  Today is what matters.  Move forward.  Be more concerned about others and I won't have time to focus so much on myself and what ails me.  Reach out to those I love in confidence, knowing they'll be happy for the contact.  Give service to my family - it makes them happy and gives me joy and a happy heart.
I am a mother.  I was not perfect, nor will I ever be so.  But I can dream of achieving it, and I can give it my best shot.  The love I have for my family just keeps growing, and so will my abilities, thanks to those whisperings of the heart in times of need.

I find it "interesting" that I am learning so many of life's lessons so late in life.  I tell you these things in hopes you won't be like me.  Extend your heart in confidence to those around you.  Don't sit back waiting for an invitation.  You'll miss a lot of good parties if you do.


  1. Great post!

    I have to admit I am with you on some of this. I love the love extended to me on Mother's Day but I feel loved everyday - I don't need a special day, I don't really need a fuss made over me, I'm good.
    I don't need to brag about what or what not was done for me. It's a crazy thing.

    Believe it or not, much of the time in the last few years I have been pretty blah with some holidays. I don't like some marker on the calendar telling me that I must send a card, or I must celebrate when I don't really feel like it. Bahhh Humbug - Ha Ha.
    I like to do things because I truly love someone, etc...

    In our ward they have the graduating Seniors talk on Mother's Day - it is pretty enjoyable - they are always funny and not too mushy.

    Glad you had enjoyable conversations with your daughters, your son and your mother - to me THAT makes Mother's Day great!!

  2. P.S. Have a nice dinner with your son and DIL!
    I love going out to meals alone with my kids my husband doesn't mind or vice versa.

  3. LOL, you forgot to mention that I DID call you, but you weren't home silly. Should I be worried that when you called me back you didn't tell me what a good mother I am? ;-) Wish I coulda been there with you to celebrate together...

  4. Mother's Day is not always the "best day ever"...many who don't have kids hate that Sunday...like you mentioned, all the Mom hero talks, the flowers passed out to all the Moms who have to stand up so the YM/YW can give you one. My good friend who's childless always stays home on that Sunday. It just can be such a sticky situation. But you found a way to make it good and that's what matters. Your description of your hubby reminds me of mine in many ways. Mine is also quiet, and sometimes seems antisocial..but he deals with the public everyday and his home is a place he can just kick back and relax. We aren't big entertainers either. I came from a huge, noisy family and it was a bit of an adjustment for me to get used to the quiet! Well, have fun with your Mom..I'm getting together with mine on Sat. too! Happy Mother's Day to you Karen!

  5. You are a wise woman, Karen. You handled your feelings in this situation so well, when you could have just curled up in a ball and spent the whole day feeling awful.

    What's more, you not only made yourself feel better, you made your kids feel good, too.

    Thanks for sharing this, because we all have these days now and then. You've reminded me that it's better to shift the focus outward and spread some love.

    That always feels good.


  6. Yeah, the whole Mother's Day thing is a giant sticky wicket. (I have no idea what that is, I have just always wanted to say that.)

    How great is it that you are so in tune with the spirit that you could hear the still small voice and then you were strong enough to act upon it! You are just amazing! You shouldn't put yourself down so much......

  7. I don't know why mother's day became the sticky wicket, as Lisa so aptly said, but it just is. Way to go making it the kind of day we all want it to be.

    Also you're not the only one whose husband doesn't do anything for mother's day (I even have to get his mom our family's gift). Which is why I have no guilt about brushing the toast crumbs to his side of the bed ;)

  8. Karen., I loved this post. You took what was not the best feeling in the world and turned it into a great feeling by thinking of others. So very wise.
    And I think what makes our relationships with our family and children so special is that we are vulnerable. Our imperfection, especially when we recognize it and talk about it with family members, perhaps actually endears us to them.

  9. I LOVE the sticky wicket comment, LOL, hilarious!

  10. Really I had to laugh Karen....youa re so much like ME!! I got 3 calls from all my children as soon as I woke up wishing me a Happy Mother's Day~! All any mother should hope for right? That was ALL!! Nothing more, no dinner our, no gift or flowers, nothing.
    If I am judged my this, I am nothing as a mother. I told them when they had children though that I did NOT want them split between me and honoring their wives for this day. So many other holidays are split. So....they listened to me. It...hurt...a ...bit. But so be it. Thanks hubby too, I am not his mother either. Nothing there too but as we age, he is less thoughtful. Ah, if I dwell on it I get grumpy. Tomorrow is another day! :-)

  11. Mother's Day. It's been a week...so it's behind us now. (whew) I've tried to forget the mistakes I've made over the years and that I'm still making. I always get a gift for my daughters and daughters-in-law and for my Mom too. I tell all my kids "NO GIFTS!" Some are obedient, others are like they've always been, totally disobedient.
    I really don't expect much so I'm not disappointed.
    Thanks for sharing your feelings. You're a good woman and a good mother. Your kids love you!


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