Post Mother's Day Post

Mother's Day is not a holiday I opted into.  One day, all of sudden, I was a member of this club - the mom club - and whether I liked it or not, this holiday became mine.  I absolutely adore my daughter, but most of the time I still feel odd calling myself "mom."

I had in mind that Mother's Day had to be celebrated like an episode of some show on Nick at Nite: mom is handed bacon, eggs, toast and a full glass of orange juice in bed and in a suburban sprawler where she has her own room just for laundry.  And she does laundry a lot.  And I didn't want bacon and don't particularly crave orange juice in the morning and definitely don't enjoy laundry.

Over and over again throughout pregnancy and new motherhood I have come up against these stereotypical scenes that live somewhere in me: ways that mothers should act, speak, dress, and be with themselves and their children.  And rarely has that image fit me and my life; so sometimes I wonder if I need to change, or if I'm doing it wrong, or if I need an alternative title other than "mother."

And then, as many times as I ask those questions, I learn that I can be both myself and be a mom.   Because it's really about loving my little girl authentically.  Mother's Day yesterday was yet another brilliant example that this is possible and is good.

For breakfast, I was poured a green smoothie and a glass of champagne.

And the Non-Scotsman took me to Essenza where he bought me this gorgeous lilac perfume I've been eyeing by Ineke.

Followed by a crab dinner at Westward with friends. As I drove home from dinner, smelling like late spring, I realized that Mother's Day felt tailor-made to me and I had enjoyed every second of it.
Not only that, I had shared it all day (via phone and texts mostly) with friends around the country who were also honoring their new roles as mom - this connecting was perhaps one of the best perks of the holiday.

And most importantly, all of this celebrating happened with my little girl on my hip, making me laugh and wanting to be close.  All this womanhood had occurred simultaneous to my motherhood.  

No burned breakfast in a laundry-filled bed here.


Post Office Repair

I dread errands to the post office.   Abnormally long lines of disgruntled people without the time to wait.  I assume that once I take my place as #26 in the queue I will realize my iPhone does not contain the correct address, my box doesn’t quite fit that bulky sweater, or mailing my gift is more costly that the gift inside.  I’m often that woman relegated to the end of the check out counter to finish re-taping, re-addressing, or re-packaging my parcel.  I feel tense just writing this.

So, imagine my surprise as I walked in to my nearly-empty local post office this afternoon.  A petite, aproned woman whose nametag read “Sonja” welcomed me with a huge smile and immediately asked if I needed help.  30 seconds later she had saved me $10 and made my baby girl laugh.  Which left her 30 more seconds to tell me about how she puts bars of wrapped soap at the end of her bed to rub her toes on at night…? (I still don’t quite get it but she said it is soothing.  Hey, whatever works).

But what startled me most was the moment she broke the Cardinal Rule of Post Office Personnel (CRPOP): she reached behind her tall counter and produced a roll of clear packing tape, placing it in my dumbfounded hands so I could “shore up” my parcel.
2 feet of free packing tape!  I still can’t believe it.

As I walked to my car, grinning like a kid who was just handed their first Popsicle from the musical ice cream truck, I realized I had enjoyed my visit to the post office!  A completely novel experience.

It reminded me of what I am trying to do with my therapy clients every day – provide a new, reparative relational experience.  And sometimes it just takes one moment to lead to a lifelong shift.  

There’s a concept in psychology called “Rupture & Repair.”  It basically means that relationships all have conflict and problems, but the important thing is how we reconstruct the damage together.  A good repair can leave the individuals and the dyad more intimate and more resilient.  When someone experiences Rupture without Repair, the damage can spread – the wound remains open.  

Ideally, of course, the repair would occur with the person who was involved in the initial rupture, but sometimes the Repair happens with someone else. 

It’s like the post office for me; rupture has occurred over and over again.  Every visit reinforced old learning, learning ingrained in my neural networks - an automatic link between the post office and fear and anger.  But this one, quick visit was a Reparative experience.  Same stimuli (post office), but different relational experience (joy, connection).  And just like that, my brain rewired.  

Even recalling that experience now I feel a smile emerge behind my lips.  Thank God for neuroplasticity.



I walked with Sienna Jane, bundled in her stroller, over to the Arboretum last week to see the leaves.  I didn't know I was going to be walking through the gate and into a magic kingdom of blood-red billows and carpets of thick green.

Yeats wrote that “the world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” 

I didn't remember how delightful it is to let them sharpen. 
It doesn't take much.

To look long.  To see the hidden mushrooms.
To take a deep inhale in and realize that the air is full of the sweetness of overripe blackberries and wood chips.
A slightly slower gait.  A deep breath.

It seems silly perhaps, but as I tuned in I got truly giddy - overcome by how beautiful the world around was. I was in awe of ... everything.  The colors and air and water...the sheer beauty and how it changes so gracefully!  I had to share it with Sienna.

So I got her out of her stroller, found the biggest patch of fallen red and gold leaves I could, and laid her in their crunchy bed.  I laughed at how badly I wanted to share this delight with her - a 12 week old! 
I think she got it, though, as she smiled back up at my face and coo'ed at the branches above.