This Mother’s Day had me asking a new question. Our ‘fails’ are so easy to identify, but what about our wins? What if the most powerful appreciation actually comes from ourselves when we acknowledge our own wins? And this applies to parents and non-parents alike!
Ok, so let’s talk Mother’s Day for a minute. We have two moms in our house so you’d think the day would be extra full of celebration, right? Not exactly! In fact, when we woke up yesterday morning, the first thing out of my older daughter’s mouth was, “Hey! How come there isn’t a Kid’s Day that we celebrate?”
You may be able to imagine some of the thoughts that flew through my head in that moment. I mean, it certainly didn’t feel fabulous to hear this question instead of “Happy Mother’s Day!” I took a deep breath and considered a variety of answers, but ended up going with, “Well, I have a feeling it will make more sense when you’re a grown-up one day.” Guys, that was the BEST I could come up with right then!
I have to admit that for the next little bit I felt sorry for my mom self! I felt unappreciated. I felt kinda resentful as I thought of the relentless ways that my wife and I have shown up for these kiddos in entirely new and often challenging ways through quarantined life.
But then something stopped me. I found myself wondering whose job it really is to appreciate me. In fact, whose job is it to appreciate ANY of us?
Don’t get me wrong! I’m all for having others appreciate us. But do we also take the time to give ourselves appreciation for the myriad ways we show up in the world? For our wins, even the small ones? This is the part that really got me thinking.
Here’s the thing. These last couple of months have been HARD for so many people for many different reasons. This time has asked us to show up in a world that is new and foreign and uncertain and confusing and scary. And each person has done so in their own way and to the best of their abilities.
But when you suddenly have to do life so differently than you’ve ever had to before, it’s easy to notice all the ways you’re not doing it well. In fact, it’s REALLY easy to notice how you’re messing up even when you’re NOT navigating a pandemic!
I know for me, there have been tender, present, and beautiful parts of these quarantined days. But there have also been hair-pulling, jaw-clenching, frustration-filled, scream-inducing aspects to them, too. And it’s usually hard to predict which version will show up on what day!
I bet this is true for many of you, too. In my recent conversations with others, many have admitted that their attempts to cope or parent have been less than stellar at many points throughout this time, especially as the quarantined days have continued. And then we swap tales of our ‘fails’ and it feels comforting to know we’re not alone.
This Mother’s Day had me asking a new question, though. Our ‘fails’ are so easy to identify, but what about our wins? What if the most powerful appreciation actually comes from ourselves when we acknowledge our own wins? And this applies to parents and non-parents alike!
How often do you take a moment to notice that you handled something well? Or to pat yourself on the back for figuring out a tricky situation? Or to appreciate yourself for showing up every day, willing to try it all again, despite how challenging things felt the day before? How frequently do you commend yourself for navigating these uncertain times? For being willing to apologize at all, even if this takes place more frequently right now? How often do you stop to appreciate that you were able to be present with your loved one(s) for a period of time that day, no matter how short and despite how utterly overwhelmed you felt?
If you are a woman or you know a woman, then you probably notice how difficult it is for many women to accept compliments let alone pay themselves one. When a woman is offered a compliment, a common response is to reject it or quickly explain all the reasons it’s not true. (The reasons behind this are surely the topic of a separate blog post!)
I read The Year Of Yes by Shonda Rhimes a couple of years ago (GREAT book!). She talked about how the women on the tv show Scandal formulated a rule about compliments. If someone received a compliment, they HAD to respond with, “I know, right?”
I highly recommend using this rule in your own life! It creates a lot of laughs while also helping you learn how to let those compliments in so you can begin to own them more comfortably. My friends and I often use this rule now!
So how can this phrase help you appreciate YOURSELF? What are the parts of you that you share with your family, the world, or even just with yourself about which you can declare, “I know, right?”? What are your wins, no matter how small, that deserve acknowledgment from you?
It may feel awkward at first, but that’s why using this phrase helps bring some levity to a practice that very likely feels foreign, but holds so much value.
So yeah, my Mother’s Day started out with the question, “Hey! How come we don’t we celebrate a Kids’ Day?”. And yup, I definitely navigated through feeling unappreciated and resentful for a bit there. But you know what? My day changed as I invited MYSELF to wonder where I can apply the phrase, “I know, right?”. It led me to genuinely notice the ways I really, truly can appreciate myself right now. I softened toward myself, toward my kiddos and toward the most rewarding AND challenging job I’ve ever had – parenting.
Later that day, when my kids baked us cookies and gave us homemade presents and cards filled with love for Mothers’ Day, their 9 and 5-year-old appreciation became the icing on my cake rather than the thing that determined how appreciated I felt.
So I ask you: What if the most powerful act of appreciation is actually when you give it to yourself? What can you apply “I know, right?” to right now? I’d love to know!
And if you are reading this and thinking, “This is a joke! There’s nothing I appreciate about myself right now. All I can see is all the ways I’m effing up or failing.” then know you are not alone. If it feels impossible to appreciate yourself, but you so badly want to, guess what? You’ve already taken the first step towards it with your desire for it!
One of the things I love the most about my work is that as I help my clients learn to trust themselves more, they also begin to like and then love themselves more, too. And self-appreciation naturally follows. If this sounds like something you would love to explore with me, shoot me a DM. We’ll find a time to virtually connect and chat about what this could look like.
I’m sending COVID-free love to each of you. And I’m cheering you on as you invite the “I know, right?” phrase into your vocabulary and acknowledge your wins, both big and small! ❤️
P.S. If you’ve been enjoying my weekly blogs and are itching for more daily inspiration, friend me on Facebook (Emily Colwell) or follow me on Instagram (dr.emily_colwell). I post frequently and humor leaks into most of my posts!
Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND
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