One of the side effects of aging, as it turns out, is realizing that if you really want something, sometimes you’ll just have to get it yourself. Gretchen Rubin elaborates on that concept in her book The Happiness Project when she discusses expecting praise (gold stars, as she refers to it) for the hard work she’s been doing as a mother and a wife. She talks about coming to terms with the fact that the praise will sometimes have to be self-generated. Well, I see your gold stars, Gretchen, and I raise you stuff.
During my “tenure” as a mom I’ve regretted many a purchase. I consider the three gifts I’m about to share with you my all time winners.
The first GREAT gift I gave myself as a mom, was also the FIRST ever gift I gave my future mom-self. The idea was born by pure chance and necessity. When I was about to become a mother for the first time, a close friend at work was sampling her lunch across the desk from me. She told me about SupperWorks, a service her mother had recently used where you could pick six, nine or 12 entrées from a menu, assemble them at one of the company’s kitchens located in Toronto and the GTA, then freeze them at home and defrost at your convenience. “Hey!” she looked me with new intention in her eyes, “we should go together! You can freeze these meals and then you’ll have food for when the baby comes!”
At the time we didn’t have close family living with us in Canada and nobody to help me cook as I figure out this whole parenting gig. My friend’s idea made all the sense in the world and I ended up utilizing the service several times during my first and second mat leaves. SupperWorks is available in Toronto and the GTA.
My Social Book is a website that allows you to convert your Facebook (and Instagram) profiles into a book. Once you log onto My Social Book it will prompt you to define the timeframe you want printed and select the categories you would like to include (status updates, timeline photos, mobile uploads etc). You can then also work within every separate category and manually deselect posts you don’t want featured.
As a chronically overwhelmed mom who didn’t yet recover from the shock of childbirth (four and seven years ago) I have way too few family photo albums to show for my “new” status and two embarrassingly thin baby books. I did, however, obsessively document and share everything funny and touching my children said over the years, every milestone they hit and every good and bad haircut they got on Facebook. This was the quickest means of documenting things. I’ve often done that with a bit of a pinch in my heart knowing that I’m basically condemning all this wonderfulness to oblivion (and I ask myself where my seven year-old gets his flair for drama), since we can’t realistically (or even technically, I believe) scroll back six years to find out when exactly our child started walking. My Social Book allows just that and I still want to chest bump myself for this fantastic investment.
Sometimes knowing that you need to recharge isn’t enough. You need someone to provide the “how to.” At one point last year I realized that I was no longer okay with simply being unsatisfied with how impatient I became as a mom and reading parenting books in search of coping tools. Don’t get me wrong, noticing areas for improvement and aspiring for a change is better than the alternative, but I felt like the books weren’t doing enough to help me with my frustration around two-hour long bedtimes and with the stress that my fear for my children’s safety evoked whenever these two young and rambunctious boys would start pushing each other in the shower or play wrestling, for example.
I’ve been following Sarah Rudell Beach’s blog Left Brain Buddha for awhile and in that time she’s also become a friend. In recent years Sarah, an experienced history, psychology and anthropology teacher, mother and mindfulness instructor decided to combine her passions into one and she’s been teaching online mindfulness courses for mothers (among other groups), Mindfulness for Mothers. This comprehensive online course teaches the basics of mindfulness and meditation in a way that is geared toward moms, their circumstances and time constraints. It emphasizes other important principles such as self care as a basis and a requirement for caring for others. The course is six weeks long and designed in a way that allows you to review the units at your own pace with unlimited access to the course’s materials upon completion. I was initially hesitant about the effectiveness of online studies, never having taken an online course before, but it was delivered in an interactive way offering multiple ways of interacting and communicating with the instructor (a course Facebook group, for example).
I think that what makes all three of those gifts different and more meaningful than other things I bought and regretted is the fact that while those other items didn’t transcend their immediate gratification purpose and remained just that, gifts, I view the three services/products I discussed here as more of an investment in myself and my family.