Give yourself Mother's Day today and a few mother's hours later


Mother's Day is here. It's time for the cards and flowers we say we don't care about -- although our hearts ache when our children forget to send them -- and if we're lucky, for a half-cooked, half-cold breakfast in bed that will taste better than any chef's creation because it was prepared by small hands and spiced with love.

On this day, I hope that each of you allows yourself to bask in the love and attention that comes your way and that, for a change, you spend the entire day patting yourself on the back for what you do right, instead of kicking yourself for the mistakes you make.

We mothers spend every other holiday taking care of everyone but ourselves, feeling responsible for everyone else's good time but our own, giving everyone but ourselves the benefit of the doubt, demanding more of ourselves than we would ever ask of a friend.

On this one day of the year, I hope you do nothing but what feels good to you. Ask yourself what you would say and do to show your approval and appreciation to the best mother in the world, and then say and do these things to and for yourself.

Would you grant the best mother in the world an entire day to herself, for example? Excellent. Ask your husband or a friend to help you give yourself this gift by taking care of your children for the entire day, if they're still young, with the promise of a payback in the near future.

Or, if your children are grown or old enough to take care of themselves, simply explain (in an honest but loving manner) that the best Mother's Day gift they could possibly give you would be to spend an hour or two with you in the morning, then allow you to celebrate the rest of this day on your own.

Then spend the day in the park with a sandwich and a book, or at your favorite museum, or having lunch with a friend you haven't had time for lately, or at a Sunday concert (the kind your husband hates), or on a shopping trip for something impractical that's just for you.

If spending Mother's Day with your family appeals to you more, on the other hand, make sure you spend it doing things with them that you enjoy: a picnic (but let someone else make the sandwiches; even a 5-year-old can manage this!) or a bike ride with the whole family or a drive in the country.

It doesn't matter what you do, so long as it's the sort of family activity that fills your heart and makes you laugh and feel carefree, and so long as you can resist falling into that all-too-familiar role of making sure that everyone else has a good time while ignoring your own desires.

I hope you'll take a few minutes out of this day-just-for-you to make a solemn vow that henceforth you will take at least three hours each week just for yourself as well -- time that's scheduled but unstructured; that's at the very top of your list of priorities; that is spent solely in nourishing the peaceful, stress-free, childlike parts of you.

This need not be an impossible dream. If it feels like one, remind yourself (often!) that if you had a weekly doctor's appointment crucial to your physical or emotional health, you'd make the time for it -- somehow -- and either pay or trade services for child care if you needed to.

A three-hour-per-week appointment with yourself is every bit as important to your health and well-being as any doctor's appointment.

Finally, I hope you repeat to yourself as many times as it takes for you to believe it, on this Mother's Day and every day: "I am not indispensable. And it isn't true that other people's needs -- even my children's -- always are more important than mine."

In short, please make this Mother's Day everything you want it to be -- filled with love and play and laughter and good times, and give yourself the hugs you so richly deserve. No one deserves them more.

) Universal Press Syndicate

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