The Best Gift a Mother Can Give Herself

This week, Mother's Day is on my mind. Yesterday, I talked about the pressure society places on us to get our moms the "perfect" Mother's Day gift. Today, I want to talk about the perfect gift each mom can give to herself. We live in a fast-paced society that only seems to be speeding up as time goes on and momentum continues to build. But this is not a good thing, for any of us. Constant connection to technology, over-commitment of our kids to sports and other activities, and lots of time spent at work or volunteering (in some cases), all leaves very little time for ourselves. When we do not take time for ourselves, we lose our connection to that small voice inside of us. And when we lose our connection to that small voice inside, we become more stressed, more tense, we bark at and nag our kids more, we experience less satisfaction in our lives and we might find ourselves wondering what the point of it all is anyway. That is when we know that we have lost our way. And when we lose our way, we cannot navigate the difficult decisions in parenting. We look outside of ourselves - to the "experts" - for help knowing what decisions to make regarding our children. We have all the wisdom we need inside of us to raise our children, but we have lost our connection to it, which makes parenting that much more difficult and stressful.

I have a radically different suggestion for this Mother's Day. If there is any way at all that you can carve out the time, or that your loved ones can give you this most-precious gift, take some time away - away from the over-stuffed schedule, from the demands of email, social media, and other people - and focus on yourself. You may only be able or feel comfortable doing this for a few minutes on Sunday but if you follow this advice and take that time, I am certain that you will feel differently - if only for a brief moment. Things will begin to shift for you. You may not even realize what that shift really means, but what it will be is your heart telling you that you are making a good choice. The quiet solitude will give your heart, which may have been silenced and drown out for way too long, a chance, if only a very small chance, to begin to tell you what it wants for your life.

We only get one chance to live on this planet. Our children are young for a shockingly short amount of time (though it may not feel that way when they are toddlers). One of my favorite quotes comes from Gretchen Rubin who says of motherhood that " the days are long, but the years are short." What does that quote actually mean? It means that when we are raising our children, the days seem so long because parenting asks more of us than almost anything else we will endeavor to do. We have so many demands on our time and our children need and ask so much of us. We are called to face emotional baggage that we have long-since stuffed down and we are asked to grow and evolve in ways we never agreed to. And we get so busy, caught up in the daily "grind" of it all that the days seem at times excruciatingly long (especially with a colicky baby or a toddler having a meltdown) but before we know it, we look up from our marathon on the treadmill of life as our children are entering high school or going off to college, and we wonder how it all went so fast. I hear this time and again from parents older than myself. They all "warned" me to enjoy my children when they are young because they will grow up faster than I can imagine.

This is all very natural and human, but is this really the way we want to live our lives?

Do we really want to feel like we are on a treadmill, barely keeping one foot in front of the other so we don't fall off and never fully enjoying this one precious life that we are given?

Please, if you do nothing else this Mother's Day, slow down your treadmill, or better yet, turn it off for just a few minutes. Take some time to stop and look around, really look around at your life. Discover what is working and bask in the gratitude for those things. And discover what needs some major overhauls, adjustments or fine-tuning. And then, find a way to create some space in your days moving forward after Sunday to find the time to really look at all aspects of your life and bring more consciousness and intention into it, because when you do, your life will become so much richer and more satisfying than you ever thought possible.

Happy Mother's Day.

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Comment by Erin Taylor on May 7, 2015 at 3:56pm

Thank you, Ashley. It sounds like you are remembering what is most important and what brings you the most joy and fulfillment as a mom. It also sounds like you are going to be entering this Mother's Day in a great frame of mind. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me!

Comment by Ashley Owen on May 7, 2015 at 2:28pm

Thank you for reminding me to put my phone down this Sunday on Mother's Day. I want to just soak the day up with my babies. Some of my most favorite times with them is when I will put phone, tv, etc. away and just enjoy being in the moment with them. :)

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