By Alison Corey
It was a warm and glowing May afternoon in the late 1980s. I was wearing my jelly sandals and a rainbow romper. I danced across the sidewalk to our neighbors’ front yard. I grabbed a handful of hyacinths begging to be picked at the edge of their yard, and quickly dashed back to my house. Bursting through the door, I retrieved the card I made in school a few days earlier from my backpack, and found my mother in the kitchen washing the dishes from breakfast. It was similar to many Sunday mornings, only this Sunday morning was Mother’s Day.
I proudly presented my mother with my token of love and appreciation. She stopped, dried her hands, and sat down at the kitchen table to read my card and admire the flowers she knew I had gotten from the neighbors’ flower garden. Her smile was warm, her laugh was light and full, and she pulled me close for an embrace. There was no place in the world I felt more safe than in her warm embrace.
At that moment, my younger brother came into the room. Diverting attention away from me, he grabbed the card from the table, and ripped it into pieces. My heart sank into my chest, in part because my token of love and appreciation was ruined, but also because I knew this wasn’t the way my mother hoped Mother’s Day was going to play out. Like every other day of the year, my mother was taking care of the housework and dealing with challenging parenting situations.
My mother was the definition of nurture. She took care of us kids, worked as a teacher, and was the primary breadwinner in our home. She prepared all the meals, did the majority of the housework, and kept our home humming. The challenge was that she did all of this to the detriment of her own health. Taking care of others didn’t leave much room to take care of herself. As a result, she suffered her first heart attack at age 44 and a second one that took her life at 64.
Mother’s Day brings a set of mixed emotions for me, as I know it does for many other women. It triggers memories of complicated relationships we have with our own mothers, and our perception of motherhood in general. Some of us have lost mothers, lost children, are estranged from loved ones, or are plagued with a deep sadness as we struggle to conceive.
I have been through many of these stages myself. When my mother passed many years ago, Mother’s Day was a reminder that she was gone, and always brought me back to that memory of Mother’s Day gone awry from so many years ago.
A few years down the line, Mother’s Day was a reminder of how I was not yet a mother, going through infertility challenges, and being met with heart-breaking disappointment that this holiday was not meant for me as a motherless daughter, and a childless woman.
Now, I am the mother to two beautiful boys, and this day carries on like so many other days of the year as I take care of the needs and desires of others, just like my mother did those many years ago.
Whether you are a mother, have a mother, lost a mother, desire to be a mother, have a terrible relationship with your mother, or feel that this holiday leaves you on the outskirts of celebration, we as women can take this opportunity to mother ourselves by providing much needed nurture and love that no one else has the ability to fulfill.
This Mother’s Day, remember to take care of yourself so that you can care for others.
As mothers and women, we often put our needs, our desires, even our health to the side as we take care of what needs to get done in the immediate moment. Putting off time to read that book we’ve been hearing about, take that fitness class, practice yoga, or get into a meditation practice because we tell ourselves we simply don’t have time. We let ourselves off the hook, don’t commit to our own needs, and give everything we have to others.
When Mother’s Day rolls around we might allow our family to take care of us with breakfast in bed, brunch, or maybe a little peace and quiet.
While all of these kind gestures are appreciated, there is a bigger piece that is missing. As mothers and women taking care of the people in our lives, a one-day reprieve from reality isn’t going to recharge our battery for an entire year until the next Mother’s Day rolls around.
Instead, it is important for us to take it upon ourselves to recharge our own battery every day with a daily self-care practice. We in essence become our own nurturing mothers using a toolkit of practices that help us feel loved and whole within the frazzled and chaotic moments of life.
This does not mean that we take long lavender-scented baths or visit the spa on the daily for a massage or pedicure. While these practices are nice, they are expensive, time-consuming, and do not fit in our active and full daily lives. They are also an escape from reality, and while an escape is nice once and awhile, it does not offer you the tools to cope with reality once you get back to it.
A daily set of self-care tools will bring you more happiness and joy in your life than a one-day reprieve from your daily responsibilities. Finding a meaningful practice that nurtures you is the anecdote for the chaos.
What does daily self-care look like for a busy woman? It’s developing a practice that allows you to cultivate presence, and compassion for yourself, your children, and those you love in your circle. It is welcoming in moments of quiet, solitude, meditation, or prayer.
You can create your own signature self-care ritual that speaks to you. Here are some ideas you can begin to incorporate into your daily life:
- Start a gratitude journal
- Write your thoughts and reflections from the day
- Take 10 minutes of silent reflection
- Try a guided meditation or silent meditation
- Throughout the day, take a few minutes to practice deep and purposeful breath-work
- Wake with 15 minutes of morning yoga or close your day with a short yoga practice
- Read something enjoyable: a magazine, a book, a favorite blog
- Watch the sunrise or sunset
- Get outside
- Take a walk and listen to nature
- Dig in the dirt, work in the garden
- Dance, sing, smile, and laugh
There are numerous ways you can incorporate a nurturing practice to care for yourself daily. There is not a perfect recipe; this is about finding what speaks to you, and continuing to practice those rituals day after day. As a result, you will develop your own personal oasis that fits seamlessly into your daily reality. Less judgement and more compassion for yourself and others will give you this spring’s fresh start to carry on, even when life seems to be moving full-speed ahead.
Alison Corey, is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, writer, yoga teacher, wife, and mother to two energetic boys. Alison is passionate about plant-based nutrition, meditation, and nurturing sustainable self-care practices for mothers. In her Healthy Happy Mama Program she helps women embrace the imperfectly perfect mama life, overcome overwhelm, and transform their physical and emotional health so they can feel like themselves again. First session is FREE. You can learn more about her work at: