How Listening to What You Really Need Trumps Your Plans
A couple of birthdays ago, my husband, Matthew, gave me a precious gift. It was a small stack of “Mommy Get Out Of Jail Free” cards.
Each card was my “golden ticket” to a full day of no childcare responsibilities for moi.
He honors each card from wake-up to the evening put-down and takes care of our usually sweet,
and often wild babies, Madeleine (“line,” not “lyn”) and Beckett (aka “Bootsie Bear”).
They’re frickin’ awesome.
Yeah, the kids are awesome, but I meant the cards.
So awesome, in fact, that I hoard them for fear that they will one day be gone. Do you do that with gift cards like I do? I’m so excited to have the possibility of buying something just for fun, that I hold on to it til it nearly expires.
I love the anticipation of how I’ll use the card. Plus, once it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s a flaw of mine to take that to the extreme and clench the paper gift with my stingy little fist right until the end. Perhaps I’ll work on that before the next gifting holiday.
Well, true to form, I’ve held on to these “golden tickets” for nearly two years and have only used about four of the twelve. I’ve toyed with the thought that maybe if I hold them all together, I could get a week of Me Time all at once… perhaps in Europe, Oregon, or the Caribbean? I do love to travel.
And honestly, I kinda forgot about the tickets stored in my bedside table beside some wedding photos, Madeleine’s first hair bow, Beckett’s fuzzy mittens from when he was six weeks old, and a couple of letters from Mom and Dad.
They’ve lay there, undisturbed and unremembered- until last Thursday.
Out of nowhere, when we were watching something dumb, I’m sure, on Netflix, I recalled my “jail cards.”
And I did the responsible thing of booking my child-free day with at least 48 hours’ notice.
“Matty, I’d like to use one of my jail cards this Saturday. Approved?”
A grumbling reply, “Yeah, you can use your Mommy prison card this Saturday.” Huge internal sigh for Matthew. His plate just got a lot fuller.
I’m way too smart to give him cards.
Then came the question, “What shall I do with my day of absolute, no responsibilities freedom?”
Oh boy, I’ve got great ambitions for my self-care day. In fact, I’ve been planning to write an article on
“A Day of Self-Care in Birmingham, AL”
And this will be the perfect opportunity to go through my suggestions.
First, I’ll go for a gentle hike at Red Mountain State Park (https://redmountainpark.org/)
or perhaps a yoga class at Kind Roots Yoga in their treehouse studio. It’s such a cool studio- unique, welcoming, and you feel like you’re doing yoga in the treetops (https://www.kindrootsyoga.com/)
Then I’ll grab a chai tea latte at O’Henry’s, find a cozy corner and sit and read for a bit.(https://www.ohenryscoffee.com/)
Next up, is Collier’s Nursery (https://colliersnursery.com/). It’s an awesome nursery, and the staff knows everything. They’ve helped me keep several plants alive longer than expected.
I’ll grab a few new flowers to refresh the patio. Nothing too taxing, just a couple of greens and purples to spruce things up and make it feel nice.
Oh boy, then it’s Bettola time.
Bettola, might be my favorite restaurant in town. It’s Italian and very delicious. The first time I had their Burrata, I lost my mind. It was so stinkin’ good.
I’ll plan to get a pepperoni pizza and a coke. Simple. Classic. A real treat.
Of course, then I’ll go over to my favorite booze shop, Hop City, to grab a fancy bottle of champagne to have later in the evening. (https://hopcitybeer.com/birmingham)
I love to ask the staff what they recommend. They always lead me to something I haven’t had and it’s really good and in whatever budget I tell them.
I’ll most certainly end it all with a trip to my most beloved chocolate shop in town, the one where I get all of my teacher gifts for Christmas and Summer break: Chocolata. (https://www.chocolatachocolate.com/). Everything is ethically sourced and from 100% Latin American farms.
On the way home, I’ll pick up a new nail polish for a DIY pedi. Something pink, to welcome spring. The evening spa routine will commence at home. Naturally, there will be a bubble bath, face mask, eye mask and we’ll whip out Essie’s “Haute To Trot” for toe beautification.
It’ll be great. I’ll look so young and fresh and dewy in the morning.
Wow, a day well spent!
My day was almost just like I planned, except that everything was completely different.
It began with me waking up tired.
Then it began with me thinking about going for a walk, but being too tired to do that.
Then it turned into, “I bet a bath will perk me up,” and me taking a bath and falling asleep in the tub because… I was tired.
In the past I’ve tried different approaches to a designated Me Time day:
the loungy, lazy way
the binge a whole show in a day way
the work in the yard and finish all the pestering tasks and messes that bother me way
the too much time in the car way
the all day with friends way
the window shopping online, but never buy anything way
What I most like is a combo of relaxing, going out for a daytime outing or two, for no more than three hours, and a chill night where I paint my toes or do something prissy.
When I get absorbed in shows, drive too much, do too many chores or do nothing at all, I usually don’t feel refreshed.
In fact, I can feel a little drained.
Finding your true way of self-care is essential to refueling in a pinch.
I made you a free guide to help you with that. You’re most welcome!
Here you go:
But last weekend, I had a bit of a struggle.
The struggle was the weight of what I thought I needed to do and had planned to do with my day.
Turns out, that wasn’t what I really needed at all.
Pretty early on in the day, I realized that I was legitimately TIRED.
And at that point, so tired that I needed a whole day to rest and restore- in the sleeping, reclining capacity.
I was tempted to feel guilty.
Ugh, I’m wasting my “golden ticket!”
This won’t be satisfying.
Am I really just going to rest?
I’m not even going to paint my toes!?
What kind of self-care day is this?
The kind my body needed.
And once I really listened to my body, I let go of the guilt.
This wonderful body, which takes so much abuse from the demands of caring for two children under five, and all the other things that come with life, needed a break.
This loyal body who’s been my friend through all of my years and who will continue to be my companion through the rest of my years, it wanted me to really hear what it needed.
It needed rest.
And that is what I needed most of all.
So I put my head to bed and I said, “Body, you’re the boss. Let’s get our nap on.”
It was humbling, but I feel wiser for it.
When you’re able to look beneath the “shoulds” and the plans and what you think you need, and get quiet and really listen to yourself, you’ll hear the real truth of what you most need.
Our bodies are usually wiser than our minds.
When I was resting at home, our family made what is sure to be one of the most historic and hilarious home videos we’ll ever have.
Matthew took Mada and Beckett to the Birmingham Zoo,
(which is a very good and clean zoo https://www.birminghamzoo.com/)
While they were petting the goats, Matthew naively said to the kids, “They’re so friendly.”
Madeleine, child genius, declares, “Becket that goat doesn’t like that!”
And it all led to a no-tears, head-butt to the tummy
for Mr. Bootsie Bear.
Dazed, but not beaten, Beckett merely nodded a the goat and yielded the space.
Matthew has now made a gif out of it and has generously shared it with all of our friends.
As a friend of ours, please enjoy a most cherished family video: