Mother’s Day: Receiving Generously.

Woman receiving flowers that say especially for you.

We hear a lot about how we mom’s struggle with putting our families first so much that we neglect ourselves. We do it because we feel we need to, we don’t see another option or we don’t see how it will all get done otherwise. Questions of our own worthiness pester us as we focus on raising our families. We all know that in the craziness we are trying so hard to give them what they need, but is it enough? Are we enough?

Sometimes we show our resistance to all the busy with a girls night or a spa trip. I am grateful to my friend who invited me out this past Friday. We had an awesome time! Fun like that is an affirmation of life and joy. When I headed home to my responsibilities on Saturday morning, my friend said “Make sure you get some pampering today for Mother’s Day.” Yet, I found all I wanted was to fold laundry and care for my son who was feeling unwell. It was perfect, because I was satisfied. I was too tired for pampering anyway.

Yet, didn’t I resist the idea of pampering just a little? A night out sure, but a whole weekend of pampering? A bit much to focus on just me. 

Why is receiving so hard?

I wonder. When I am working for the good of others I focus on them. When I receive I tend to notice me. And maybe there is still a little voice in me that wonders if I am worthy. Like most women do.

However, lately I’ve realized something I think is very important:

However, lately I’ve realized something I think is very important:

Receiving is an act of kindness to the person who is trying to be kind to us. Every act of kindness is an act of courage. It makes us vulnerable and it’s success depends on the person we are giving to. If I get up and say hello to someone, I put myself out there. If that person is happy to talk to me, they put themselves out there as well. But if they act restrained or as though I’m irritating, I feel a little bit smaller. 

Woman receiving mother's day flowers that say especially for you.
Mother’s Day Flowers

If we give a gift we’ve put thought into, the way it is received will touch us for good or bad.

When you struggle with your own worthiness, openly receiving love and generosity is an act both courageous and generous. You make space for the other person to grow a little bigger, to enter more deeply into life, joy and human connection.

But if we restrict or defend when we receive we tend to teach the other person to shut down. They do not see it is about us, they feel the tiny little rejection of their loving heart.

It’s Mother’s Day and my kids presented their gifts.

This year I did better. In the past when my kids have given gifts I have fussed over what they made and hugged them close. It looked like good mothering, but it was actually shifting the attention off myself. 

But this year when they approached me in their excitement to share what they had made, I stayed open. I was deeply moved by what they made me at school. One son shared in detail the transfer process used to create the wooden print of his photo. His energy and attention had soaked into the wood itself.

When my other son shared his poem about me, he handed it off and then hid in another room in a moment of shyness. If I had been analyzing his actions I would have said, “Wow this is really important to him. His heart is on this page.”

Instead, I was fully in the moment as I read his poem. How can this be? I had no idea he knew me this well. This was no teacher written example; this was from the heart of a little boy who has apparently been watching his mother very closely. I was astonished. And, amazingly, I received it. When he came back I shared with him how I felt about the poem and I must have done well, because he stood a little taller and he smiled. His embarrassment was gone. We shared our joy together.

If I had done what I might have in the past and said something wise and parental like “I notice that you used some beautiful words here and that you wrote a wonderful poem. Thank you!” Or even “Wow, this is great!” He would have shut down just a bit. Because this time the poem was more than just a poem, and thankfully I got that. 

Man giving woman mother's day flowers.
The gift of flowers

I always think of that part in “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” when the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes. Maybe, just maybe, a kindness offered and received makes our hearts grow.

Can we receive generously?

A kindness offered is the gift of a little piece of ourselves. But kindly receiving is also sharing of a little piece of ourselves. If we mothers insist on giving and cannot really receive, we do not allow our children to know us. Really know us.

Does being taken care of or receiving a gift trigger shame in you? “I should give them something in return,” you might think. Or do you do the defensive compliment comeback? “Oh no, I didn’t do that, I just have a great team.” “No, my hair is terrible.” Have you ever been on the other end of that? You pay a compliment and then the other person argues? Do you recognize that it causes a disconnection in the relationship? If someone tells me I look beautiful and I explain to them why I don’t, haven’t I just implied they are dishonest or simply don’t know what they are talking about? This does not bring us closer. But what if I just enjoyed the compliment and expressed thanks? Doesn’t that feel wonderful?

If you feel shame like this. If you feel the need to apologize for yourself or make any good someone tries to give you a way to turn it around to them, you are responding with shame. Try the 3 Steps to center yourself and receive the gift.

What does your child, your spouse, your friend or that stranger need when they try to offer kindness?

After all this

Today I was so inspired by my kids, I felt full of happiness. In the church parking lot I noticed a woman getting into her car who was wearing a pair of dirty bucks perfectly. (The brown suede shoes with the red soles.) Such a good style moment! I knocked on her car window. She rolled down her window curiously. 

Mother's Day: Receiving Generously #motherhood #mothersday #gifts #generosity

“I have not seen dirty bucks worn that well in years!” I said. 

“What are dirty bucks?” She asked. 

“Oh, those are your shoes! You are wearing them so well. You look amazing.” Her confused look (which to me read like she was expecting criticism) faded. A big grin broke across her face. “Thankyou” she said in surprise. I was so relieved. She received was I was attempting to give, a random act of well-wishing. We were both built up by it.

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Author: Alison Escalante MD

Alison Escalante MD is a Pediatrician, TEDx Speaker, Writer and Mother on a mission to help parents caught in the culture of criticism.

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