#SWAAYthenarrative

My Open And Honest Letter To My Children This Mother's Day

Lifestyle

As Mother’s Day approaches we are inundated with ads for special gifts, unlimited offers, and countless ways to give tribute to our mothers. We are reminded of the wonderful, selfless love mothers give us and how many of us fail to give them our time and show them our love and gratitude because of our busy lives and exhausting work schedules. In fact, just yesterday, my husband, who saves every article he finds interesting, pulled out an Ann Landers column from May 8, l994 (many of you will have to Google Ann Landers to know who I’m talking about) in which she reprinted a letter from one of her columns a few years earlier, from “anonymous”. In this letter, the author regrets the time not spent with her mother, the lack of understanding of her mother’s advice when she was younger, and her not saying “I love you” often enough. After reading this I began to think of myself as a daughter but also as a mother of three adult children with busy, interesting lives and I felt the need to address them and the many daughters and sons out there who begin to feel a pain in the pit of their stomachs as Mother’s Day approaches and their guilt sets in for not having done enough for that very special mom that has been too good to them so often. This list is not, by any means, a “get out of Mother’s Day” card. It is a reminder to not let your past actions, however hurtful you think they might have been, keep you apart from your mother. Nothing is worse than silence.


"In this letter, the author regrets the time not spent with her mother, the lack of understanding of her mother’s advice when she was younger"

Here’s what this mom has to say to my daughters and my son, and to all sons and daughters out there:

  • Don’t ever underestimate my unconditional love for you, even when you are not at your best;
  • I always forgive and forget hurtful things you do or say in a moment of anger, even when I don’t say so;
  • Forgetting my birthday, not seeing you often, not talking enough is hurtful, but not irreparable. Just talking it out erases that hurt instantly;
  • I understand you more than you realize so don’t keep on repeating, “You don’t understand. You never had to go through this”;
  • Life is not that different for you as it was for me. Believe it or not, the same frustrations, fears, anxieties that bothered you growing up also bothered me;

"It’s ok to disagree with me, in fact, I expect it. You should be developing your own ideas, ideologies, and finding your own way of dealing with this ever-changing crazy world we live in."

  • I too fought with my mother, didn’t accept her advice, and had many disagreements with her only to find out later in life that she was right 90 percent of the time;
  • I won’t always agree with your wardrobe decision; that doesn't mean I think you’re a “slut”; I just have different tastes;
  • That look in my eyes and that face that says “I don’t like that” means just that: “I don’t like that”. It doesn’t mean any more or less and it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t like you;
  • It’s ok to disagree with me, in fact, I expect it. You should be developing your own ideas, ideologies, and finding your own way of dealing with this ever-changing crazy world we live in;

"I will always tell you honestly what I believe is best for you without any self-interest"

  • I know I often made you do things when you were young that you didn’t like to do like clean your room, dress up for church, go to church, attend adult family functions, but I think you would agree today that all these things have helped to turn you into adults with humility and integrity;
  • I know that often I am not the first person you go to for advice, but when you do come to me, remember that although I may not say what you want to hear, I will always tell you honestly what I believe is best for you without any self-interest;
  • I know we don’t spend too much time together doing fun things like we did when you were younger, but believe me, I understand that you have a life all your own now full of activity and knowing that you’re happy is my greatest joy;
  • I am not perfect!! I know I made mistakes along the way and that you will probably do many things differently when you become parents, but I promise you that you will be surprised at how many things you’ll do the same.
  • No, I don’t expect you to be perfect either. I do want you to be self-sufficient, healthy, and happy at whatever you choose to do in life because I believe that these are the fundamentals of a good life, the rest is icing.
  • Ultimately, the important thing for you to remember this Mother’s Day is that I love you now and always will, whether you tell me you love me or not, whether you call me once a day, once a week, once a month or once a year.

So this Mother’s Day instead of daughters and sons feeling guilty about what they haven’t said or done, just bask in your mother’s love which is boundless and eternal.

4 min read
Health

Tropism, Mindfulness, and Responding to Your Environment

One of the few things I remember from grade school biology is the concept of tropism. In plain language, tropism is the reaction of a living thing, like a plant, towards a stimulus like sunlight or heat. You've likely seen this before but just didn't recognize it for what it was. If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action. The plant is bending towards the sunlight.

If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action.

In our everyday lives, we are all inundated with stimuli throughout the day. The driver in front of us that stalls at the yellow light and zooms through the red light, leaving us behind to wait. Or the customer service rep that leaves us on hold for an ungodly amount of time, only for the call to prematurely drop. There are so many examples both common and unique to our individual lives. The trouble begins when we form the habit of responding to everything — particularly negative stimuli. By doing this, our mental peace is disrupted and diverted making us slaves to whatever happens to happen. Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us. Now take that concept and multiply it by the number of things that can happen in a day, week, or month. What happens to you mentally with so many emotional pivots?

For me, the result is: Restlessness. Anxiety. Sleepness. Mindless Eating. Everything besides peace of mind.

Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us.

Earlier this year, something pretty trivial happened to me. I'm sure this has happened to you at some point in your life also. I was walking through a door and, as I always do, glanced back and held the door longer and wider than normal for the person coming behind me. My gracious gesture was met with silence — no thank you, no smile, not even a nod. I remember being so annoyed at this travesty of justice. How dare they not acknowledge me and thank me for holding the door? After all, I didn't have to do it. I know I spent the next few hours thinking about it and probably even texted a few friends so that they could join in on my rant and tell me how right I was to be upset. In hindsight, I should not have allowed this pretty petty thing to occupy my mind and heart, but I did. I let it shake my peace.

I've since taken some classes on mindfulness and what I've learned (and I'm still learning) is the art of being aware — being aware of the present and my feelings. Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy. We're all human and having emotions is part of the deal but as mindful adults, it's critically important to choose what you're going to care about and let everything else pass along. There are several tools on the market to help with this but the Headspace app has really helped me in my mindfulness journey. The lessons are guided and coupled with some pretty cute animations.

Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy.

Over the course of the next week, I'd like to challenge you to pay more attention to your reactions. How aware are you of how you allow your environment to affect you? Are you highly reactive? Do you ruminate for hours or even days on events that are insignificant in your life? If so, practicing a bit of mindfulness may be the way to go.