Saturday, the day before mothers day, I spent the entire day at the kids school fete. Like a lot of mums from our school, we sat and watched our kids perform in a variety of different cultural expressions. Plays, dances, sing song things.
Personally, I enjoyed it. I love watching my kids do stuff they love, and ultimately, I have learnt, that no one has a gun to my head, so if I don’t want to go, I won’t.
But what I won’t be doing, is going and then complaining about my decision to go. Well, as much as humanly possible! I don’t HAVE to do anything! Minus breathing..that is kinda important. But the rest of the things, I get to choose!
But come Saturday, I was pretty tired. Like a lot of mums who are attending to the things for their children.
So with my eyes on Sunday, Mothers Day I was well tired and was really looking forward to a pretty chillaxed kind of day.
Mothers Day is a tricky day! In the past, I have been struck with this thing I call “expectation-itis“.
It’s where I create all these ideas about how things are going to be in the future. I can do this with many areas of my life. Friendships. Family. Eating out at a restaurant.
Then, when the future becomes the present and doesn’t match my image (or illusion) my expectations get all inflamed and then I get all pissy and I am the one who is inflamed. *forehead slap*
Pain comes not from the event, but that our expectations weren’t met.
I’ve been down the path that is signed posted, “Head this way if you think you can control all the events for the whole day, from all the people and you will feel so amazing because everyone will do exactly what you think they should because they love you and they wouldn’t dare do anything else”.
The shorter version of this sign is, “Expectation Street”.
Oh that path. That lonnnnng street.
Every time I have taken off down that path, pretty much without fail, it has been filled with prickle bushes, deep potholes, stone slinging ogres and mud pits.
Every. Single. Time.
And every time it ends up with me feeling hurt and disappointed and then most likely throwing mud from the mud pit I landed in at others who didn’t do the things I ‘expected’.
This year, as I approached the entry into Mothers Day, and looked at the path I was about to head down, I gave myself a little pep talk.
“Jen, no matter what goes down on this one day, you have to remember that no matter what, your kids love you and putting pressure on them to behave in a way that proves that to your mind, that kinda isn’t fair. It’s up to you to communicate what you need, or desire, and then if they deliver ‘woo-hoo’ and if they don’t ‘woo-hoo’. Either way, you are worthy of love and belonging, and either way, you know you are doing the best you can, and so are they. So, go lay in bed for a bit, and don’t expect them to be or do anything that isn’t them”.
So Sunday morning, after a late birthday celebration the night before and feeling a little (or a lot) tired, I lay in bed.
I had told the kids what I wanted for mothers day. I didn’t have expectations that they would deliver on it. I didn’t expect it to be perfect and they do all the things.
I wanted to go on a big walk and I wanted to honour my new mothers day tradition of new Birkenstocks and I wanted a card that they all write on and a hug from each of them.
As I lay in bed, about to open my present that was in the shape of a shoe box, one of the kids accidentally hit me in the lip with a brush. It brought tears to my eyes. Not the good kind. Next thing, I am in bed, present half opened with ice on my lip.
Would I have ever expected that?
“Well, that didn’t go to plan” says another kid after apologies and ensuing silence.
“Nope” I said, “But that’s okay. Things seldom do”.
I continued opening the present, one hand on my lip holding ice, the other trying to get the paper off, and as I’d requested, a pair of Birkenstocks were staring up at me.
As I opened the box, staring back at me were Birkenstocks.
But not the ones I had asked for.
But not the ones I had requested.
I chuckled internally, “well that didn’t go to plan”.
At every point, because I wasn’t holding the expectation that it was going to be perfect, or a particular way, I was able to just experience the next thing. I was able to laugh at it and take it in my stride (on this occasion…lets see how I go next time).
This time, I was able to take the shoes back and get the ones I wanted.
This time, I was able to go on my long walk and have it take longer than I anticipated.
This time, I was able to go and get food for dinner without seething resentment that ‘this isn’t what I should be doing on mothers day’ that I would inevitably cook.
I was able to say ‘sure’ (without that resentful scowl) when my husband wanted to play golf as he usually does on Sunday’s, and not feel like I wasn’t important, or special or all the others things that are not in alignment with what I really know to be true.
Because it isn’t just one day a year that get the opportunity to ask for what I need.
And if it is, I have some work to do!
It isn’t one day that I put all this pressure on to be a particular way, and go a particular way, and I am not looking to get offended with it doesn’t go as I would like.
Mothers are notorious for putting their needs last, and selflessly attend to all the things, quietly ‘expecting’ that we will be noticed for our work and ‘expect’ that on ONE DAY everyone will stop and just do everything for us.
But here’s the kicker.
If daily, we are not teaching people what is okay and what isn’t okay (hello healthy boundaries) then on that one day, they are not going to have a clue of how to treat us.
“no one can cause your suffering, only you who believes what you are thinking and believing can”.Byron Katie
If we are too busy attending to all the needs of others, and not showing the people around us how to care for us, then when it comes time to be ‘mothered’ we just cannot expect they have a clue how.
Here’s to being mothered in all the mothering ways that speak to us. To our desires. And when we feel like you are not getting what we need from others, it is a call to mother ourselves. And give ourselves what we know we need. And if we don’t know what we need….well, you know where this is going. It is our job to find that out.
I hope you are able to be gentle with yourself and with the others who love you. Gently, gently!
Until next we meet, keep being brave, keep showing up and keep sharing beautiful you.
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