By Halina Newberry Grant/ The Next Family
I celebrated my first Mother's Day this year, and it was terrific. My husband far exceeded my expectations, and I got just the right amount of family time and alone time and massage time -- leaving me feeling fulfilled, relaxed, loved and appreciated.
I know that sounds braggy, especially since I know too many moms who were sorely disappointed with the efforts or lack of effort on the part of their significant others (or kids).
You may be one of the masses of people who place importance on feeling honored on days like Mother's Day, and see them as an opportunity for your spouse or partner to rally the kids to express their love and gratitude for you.
Perhaps instead -- like a lot of women -- you feel neglected, taken for granted and hurt. Not only were your expectations not met, you feel like effort wasn't made.You express your hurt, and the day ends with the two of you fighting, feeling resentful and one of you sleeping on the couch.
Here are three simple steps you can take in order to have a memorable and satisfying special day worth bragging about:
1. Figure Out What You Want
Mom, you're not alone if you don't know where to begin when it comes to pinning down exactly what will make you happy and feel special. It's difficult to bring thoughts of ourselves to the forefront of our brain. Self care is usually shoved into a dark dusty corner next to "clean the car" and "get a haircut."
Some of us say, "it's just a gesture! Even a homemade card would be better than nothing!" while we longingly look at the solitaire diamond dangling from our co-worker's smug neck.
Or maybe you are more low-key; you would love an intimate picnic with your husband and the kids and to watch them feed the ducks.
Or perhaps you want the day to yourself. You spend every day putting someone elses' needs before your own, and want a day where the little ones and the dog aren't following your every move. You want some hours where your brain can process thoughts and ideas without distractions. Maybe finish writing that novel or flesh out that screenplay.
Or maybe your idea of perfection is a fancy dinner out, wearing your good underwear.
Whatever it is, It's time to get honest with yourself. Find a quiet few seconds and actually go through the motions of asking yourself "what would make me happiest on this day?" Try not to let other people or our culture sway your answer. If you truly want to be authentically happy, ignore the impulse to measure the worth or value of your life against something outside you.
2. Ask for What You Want
I know. I just made some of you mad. Some of you really, truly love surprises. The idea of asking for the specific thing you want takes all the joy and spontaneity out of the getting. But did you know that NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON ON THIS PLANET IS A MIND READER? Even the best psychics say they can't read the people who are closest to them.
Here's a revolutionary way to ask for what you want, without sounding pushy or bratty or high maintenance; I call it the "Love Sandwich."
The bread of this sandwich is love, and the meat (or peanut butter or tuna or whatever, let's move on) is your needs. A Love Sandwich goes something like this:
Bread: "Honey, you always work so hard to please me and I know holidays can be stressful. And the last thing I want is for you to feel stress around doing something for me."
Meat: "I was trying to think of what I would really love from you (and the kids) to make the day special and I would SO love to just have a few hours to myself and a massage."
Bread: "I don't want to step on your toes at all in case you already have something in the works, but let me know if you need any help with the details. You have so much on your plate and I don't want this to be a source of stress for you."
You see what I did there? A Love Sandwich is loving and direct. It validates that your partner is indeed busy, and that it hasn't completely slipped their mind to do something for you.
It may seem tedious and forced. But I have found that a loving approach is more likely to yield the desired results, and I don't have to mope, pout, doubt and be disappointed. Fake it if you have to, it will feel more natural over time.
3. Make Plans (Carefully!) and Appreciate What You Do Get
This last point requires you to tread carefully. There have been times when I have completely derailed my husband's plans in progress because I doubted his intentions. I made my own plans, steam-rolled over his and felt like a jerk.
I think this suggestion is best paired with #2 -- use the Love Sandwich to make your plans:
Bread: "Honey you're always try so hard to please me on holidays and I know how much pressure you must feel.
Meat: "I was thinking of scheduling myself a massage on my birthday, but I don't want to step on your toes or sabotage any plans you may be making. So just let me know the best window of time to fit it in, or if you'd rather I let you take the reigns the whole day, that's OK too."
Bread: "Whatever you have planned, I know it's going to be great."
This is a loving way to take care of yourself and allow your love to care for you as well. It expresses confidence in their ability to please you and communicates your needs and expectations at the same time.
Now you only have to enjoy what you get. By all means express your gratitude. Praise whatever efforts have been made.
Hopefully you have chosen to be with someone who truly does want to make you happy, and maybe you two have just failed to communicate lovingly and effectively over time.
If you wanted diamonds and you get a macaroni necklace instead, maybe the failing is on your part to value what you have and its authenticity. If you wanted breakfast in bed and instead you get a Starbucks run, maybe find a way to infuse romance into the little day to day things.
Happiness is where we create it and where we find it, after all.
If we approach Mother's Day with a sense of entitlement and the expectation to feel like a queen, we may be forgetting that it's the little things we do every day that go unnoticed that make us feel taken for granted. Maybe we need to notice the little things that are done for us, and accept them as the jewels they are -- worthy of a Mother's Day crown.
Halina Newberry Grant is a writer, actor, singer and songwriter. She enjoys writing about comedy, tragedy, comedic tragedy, tragic funny things and everything in between. She has performed dramas in cemeteries, comedy in basement bars and Christmas music in Bloomingdale's display windows. She lives with her husband, her dog and her daughter in Culver City, CA and writes for The Next Family
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