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Mother’s day is a great time to celebrate all of the effort and hard work of women everywhere. I hope as a woman, in whatever walk of life, you are celebrated! Whether you are a mom or not, I believe some of the most important gifts are those we give ourselves. I believe we teach people how to treat us in relationships (with exceptions of course including abuse). If we want to teach others in our relationships to love and cherish us, we must be able to do that ourselves. Here are some gifts we can give ourselves that are good places to start:

The gift of NON COMPETITION

I have watched our culture of competition as women and have thought deeply about where this comes from. I believe it comes from a culture of fear and lack. We believe if someone else has something, there is less of it for us. We “hustle for worthiness” as Brene Brown calls it, meaning we feel we have to prove we are worthy of love, acceptance and belonging. The truth is there is plenty of love, acceptance, and belonging to go around. We do not need to be afraid.

Being a mother to children is the scariest thing I have ever done in my life. I believe parenting sets us up to be the most vulnerable we have ever been. It makes me afraid because there is no rule book, but mothering is the single most important thing I feel I will do in my life. How do I know if I am succeeding? What does succeeding mean? In the past the only way I have known to gauge these questions is to look at the moms around me and compare what I am doing with what they are doing.

The problem with this comparing is that it gets in the way of me enjoying parenthood, bringing my authentic gifts as a mom to the table, and being present with my kids. Brene Brown says in our book club book of the month “Caring about the welfare of children and shaming parents are mutually exclusive endeavors.” I interpret this to mean that if we only think there is one way to do something and are judging ourselves and others for doing it differently, we are harming the children around us. Every time we tear down another mom we do not have the welfare of children in mind. No amount of breastfeeding, co-sleeping, sleep training, positive discipline, or whatever else will benefit our children as much as them having a happy and confident mom.

I heard a wonderful quote from a friend that says, “A candle doesn’t lose its flame by lighting another” Practice dropping all the comparison from your life. Replace it with gratitude and with cheering on every other woman you know. This conscious effort could be the gift that will completely change your life.

The gift of PERMISSION

We sometimes get stuck in all of the “shoulds” and the ideas about what we are “supposed to” and “have to do.” These high expectations can also get in the way of enjoying our lives and the people around us. Give yourself permission to do something half way. Give permission to go out of the house wearing sweatpants and no make up, permission to get take out, or feed your child macaroni and cheese five days in a row. Give yourself permission to dream, permission to take out time and space for yourself, permission to do the things you love. Sometimes the only thing holding us back is the unwritten rules we have for ourselves. Change the rules and realize that you are allowed to do the things that make you happy. If we give ourselves permission to not have to appear as if we have it together we will find a whole new world of friendships and possibilities open up for us.

The Gift of saying NO

When someone asks you a favor, before responding consider three questions, “Am I capable of doing this? Do I have the resources and time to do this? Do I want to do this?” If the answer to one or all of these questions is no, say NO. Our relationships are so much more authentic if we can say no. I know that in my own life I only ask a favor from someone if I feel they will be honest with me about if they can do it or not. If they say no I take that as a sign that they respect themselves, me, and our friendship enough to be honest. Resentment builds when we cross our own boundaries. Say NO when you need to say NO in order to decrease resentment in your relationships and to increase love and respect for yourself.

The gift of TIME

I know I often feel I am lacking in time to do the things I love. There are barriers that get in the way. I feel guilty for being away from my family or getting childcare and I want to support the other people in my life first. This is a difficult one for me to practice what I preach. But I KNOW that I will only be more effective for others if I can be a happy and whole person myself. Even if it is just a small thing like listening to what you love in the car, find some time that is yours and that you can carve out for things that light you up.

The gift of AFFIRMATIONS

It is wonderful if the people in our life express appreciation for us. We know that appreciation is what builds relationships and strengthens bonds. Why not build the relationships we have with ourselves by letting ourselves know what we appreciate about our individuality.  Affirmations may sound cheesy but there is a body of solid research that they really do work. There are several ways to accomplish this. One way is to start with sitting down and writing 5 things you know are true about yourself that are positive. Post these on post it notes on your mirror and read them every morning. Another way to do this is to journal 2 things you did every day that you were proud of, even if that thing is getting out of bed in the morning. Take time to emphasize the positives. Another way to get jump started is to use the amazing worksheet on affirmations that we will post on the blog Monday!

Get excited about one of these and commit to giving yourself one of these gifts! Let me know how they have worked for you in the comments!