Embrace Your Inner Idiot by Forgiving Yourself
Welp…another Mother’s Day has come and gone.
If you’re a mom, I hope you had a wonderful day. If you are a man and someone close to you is a mother, I hope you remembered. If you didn’t, may God help you.
My First Mother’s Day
On my first Mother’s Day, my daughter was just over a month old. Although I was sleep-deprived and clueless about what I was doing, not enough time had passed for me to get a true flavor of how difficult motherhood can be.
To be honest, I was so out of it, as I sit here typing this, I can’t remember how I celebrated Mother’s Day that year.
In other words, that Mother’s Day went off without a hitch.
My Second Mother’s Day
By the time my second Mother’s Day came around, for over a year and at 41 years old, I had been re-negotiating everything in my life: my commitment to my work, my relationship with my husband, the time spent with my friends and of course, getting to know my new little daughter. I remember feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and often on the verge of tears because I was so pulled in different directions.
I wasn’t the only one who felt this way; my husband did, too.
This is why:
When I got pregnant, we decided one of us would stay at home with Paloma for the first few years of her life. After considering several things, James and I ultimately determined it would make the most sense for him to “sacrifice” his career.
Talk about re-negotiation! James, who was 50 when we had Paloma, had been working from the time he joined the military immediately out of high school. He had built bombs in the Gulf War, hauled air conditioners weighing several hundred pounds up ladders, and serviced cell towers on abandoned desert roads (just to name a few). James is a man’s man.
And he gave all this up to clean poop and puke almost 24-7.
Gotta love him.
Anyway…back to my second Mother’s Day…
I was really looking forward to that one. I couldn’t wait to get spoiled, pampered, celebrated and put on a pedestal for a day.
That weekend was a busy one. James’ oldest daughter, Cherrelle, was in town from California for her step-sister’s wedding on Saturday. A few months prior, the step-sister and her fiance had asked James to DJ the reception, and despite having too much on his plate, James agreed because he wanted to help. For weeks, during his limited spare time, James spent countless hours with the bride and groom-to-be organizing a playlist and practicing his mixes so the day would be perfect for them.
The night of the wedding, James and Cherrelle were out long after Paloma and I had gone to bed.
On Sunday, Mother’s Day, I was the first one up. No surprises there; I’m always the first one up. What was going to be different about this day though, was that it was going to be all about me.
I bounded into the kitchen, looking for the card and flowers that would undoubtedly be waiting for me on the table.
They weren’t in the living room, either. Or the bathroom. Or anywhere.
So I patiently waited for a couple of hours for James to get up. I just knew he would have something special planned.
After what seemed like forever, I finally heard him making noise in the bathroom. He and Cherrelle emerged from different parts of the house into our family room (where I was) at the same time. They were both in a rush because she was running late for the airport.
This is what ensued:
James kisses me good morning and heads into the kitchen.
I stand there confused, but still certain that James has a surprise planned.
James comes back into the room where Cherrelle and I are standing and asks her if she’s ready to go.
Cherrelle answers “yes” and walks toward me to hug me goodbye while exclaiming “Happy Mother’s Day!”
James says “It’s Mother’s Day???”
I’m sure you can imagine how the rest of the day went for me AND James. For some reason, he thought that Mother’s Day was coming up on Thursday. Do you remember the last time Mother’s Day was on a Thursday?
Yeah. Me neither.
Anyway, just so you know, I punished James for no less than a week. I made his life miserable. I wanted to guarantee he felt as horrible as humanly possible AND that he would never, EVER forget another Mother’s Day again.
I have forgiven him. I do still remind him of that day once in a while just for sport, though.
My Third Mother’s Day
I can’t remember what happened, but I do know that James remembered, so that was a plus.
My Fourth Mother’s Day
This was just the day before yesterday, so I remember it clearly.
James got up even before I did (and I usually get up between 4 and 5), made a beautiful breakfast and brought it to me in bed. He woke me up to one of my favorite classic country songs and showered me with hugs, kisses and tokens of his love. Paloma, who had been asleep next to me, opened all my presents and was thrilled to have a picnic in bed. Then, we all went to have brunch with my own Mother in Prescott at the historic Hassayampa Inn.
It was my best Mother’s Day, yet.
Embrace Your Inner Idiot By Forgiving Yourself
Several times a year, James “wakes up” in the morning and tells me he tossed and turned all night. When I ask why, he says he couldn’t sleep because he was thinking about all the stupid things he’s done in his life.
Like living across the world from his two oldest kids when they were little.
Like practically giving away an expensive piece of DJ software in a Craig’s List “trade” for a keyboard which didn’t even have 88 keys.
Like messing up my second Mother’s Day.
I forgave James about Mother’s Day after a week of milking it. I’m OK. He still isn’t; he hasn’t forgiven himself.
Do you sometimes have a hard time forgiving yourself, too?
Maybe this will help:
One time several years ago during a meeting with my business and life coach, I had a meltdown over one of my “misdeeds” that had been causing me grief for almost a decade. At that time, I was practicing mostly criminal law. Steven, my coach, asked me this:
Steven: How long does a person get for shooting (and not killing) another person?
Me: It depends. (Remember…I’m a lawyer. There is almost never an easy answer.)
Steven: (Sigh.) OK…Guess. How long?
Me: 10.5 years.
Steven: Did YOU shoot someone?
Steven: Well you’ve punished yourself almost as long as a person who shot someone else. Is that long enough?
Me: (Thinking…) I guess it is.
And…I forgave myself. In that instant. It was easy. I just made a decision to do it, and I did it.
You can, too.
So…keeping in mind the fact that we all can do stupid things at times, are you ready to be done? Are you ready to forgive yourself?
If not, you should be.
Go ahead. Do it. Embrace your inner idiot.
All my best,