May 13, 2011

If I Can Celebrate “Mother-In-Law Day,” You Can Too.

There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate.  ~Robert Brault

For most of my child-rearing years, I’ve had a bit of a chip on my shoulder about the “Hallmark holiday” we celebrate in May. While women all around me were being celebrated on Mother’s Day, annually I found myself shopping, prepping, cooking, and cleaning in order to host a Dolan family gathering. Please know that I truly enjoy getting together with extended family and recognize that we are lucky to be able to do so on a regular basis. And I am generally quite happy playing the hostess. However, May after May, I found that I wasn’t feeling very celebratory as I pulled together yet another dinner-for-an-army on a day that was supposed to be about me.

I vividly recall realizing that the chip on my shoulder was ruining the whole weekend. I was having a (-nother) Mother’s Day meltdown and my poor husband was trying to pick up the pieces. The end result was a stroke of genius. We moved Mother’s Day to Saturday and officially began celebrating Mother-In-Law Day on Sunday. This was years ago and our little twist on the holiday is still working out beautifully. With the chip off my shoulder, my attitude improved dramatically. And, so did my enjoyment of our annual family dinners in May.

One day of the weekend we do exactly what I want to do. Even though my husband was out of town for most of the day on our Mother’s Day this year, I planned a great day for myself. I took a long walk with a friend before the kids got up. I took my girls out for a leisurely breakfast. My youngest helped me do a little weeding. (Working in the yard is one of my favorite ways to spend the day and is twice the fun with company!) I had a massage while the kids hung out with their friends. Late in the afternoon, I cheered my daughter on in her first lacrosse game. When my husband got home, we had dinner with friends and went to the movies (which is my second-most-favorite thing to do).

It really was a great Mother’s Day. When I look back on the day, it’s interesting to notice that most of the time I was doing everyday things. I walk with my friend once or twice a week. We go to the Bagel Factory kind of a lot. Lacrosse games fill our weekends in the spring. And weeding is not often considered a way to celebrate. The massage was absolutely a luxury, but, really, the rest of the day could have been any Saturday. And, with my husband away, it actually could have been a tough Saturday.

What set this Saturday apart others was my attitude. I woke up looking forward to “my” day. Because of that, everything that came my way seemed a little more special. The fact that the sun was out was a bonus. But I also remember commenting to my daughter that we were really lucky we’d had all the rain this spring because the damp earth made it especially easy to weed. In a way, I guess I was looking for nice things to notice.

Looking for nice things to notice and to be grateful for is a practice I discovered on my mat. While I move and breathe, I have a choice. I can focus on how hard some things are – and something is always hard on my mat. Sometimes it is how rigid my hamstrings feel or other times it is how wobbly I feel in balancing poses. Or I can choose to shift my awareness to search for things to celebrate. These things don’t have to be big victories or anything. It could be as simple as relishing the depth of my inhales.  Or I could simply feel grateful for the way my body now automatically settles into downward facing dog. Focusing on nice things doesn’t change the fact that those other things are hard. It just shifts the overall feeling of the practice. If I’m celebrating something, even the hard stuff seems nicer.

I woke up on Sunday morning still basking in the after-glow of my great Saturday. That glow may be the key to the fact that my celebratory attitude continued on “Mother-In-Law Day.” I enjoyed every minute of our sunny Sunday filled with life-as-usual – going to church, working in the yard and lots of family togetherness. (My mother-in-law’s offer to host dinner that night might have had a little something to do with it, too. Wink wink.) Either way, enjoying a weekend so fully is a gift. A gift that leaves me awash in gratitude for the attitude that made it possible. 

What will you celebrate today?
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Amy Nobles Dolan  |  Contribution: 9,100