As I was leaving my house this morning to have Mother’s Day breakfast with my husband and kids, I stopped to put the coffee creamer in the fridge. The top was loose and came off in my hand and I promptly splashed Vanilla Caramel Coffee-Mate on a wide variety of items in my refrigerator. Yes, a fabulous sticky mess running everywhere when we had ten minutes to make it to the restaurant that is exactly ten minutes across town.
When I was first married and trying to be the perfect wife and mother, this incident would have meant that I had to stop and clean everything right then, all the while chastising myself for being so stupid to have not checked that the lid was tight. I would have been late to breakfast and felt guilty for ruining everyone else’s Mother’s Day. Today, I didn’t have to do that.
When I was with my first husband, this incident would have resulting in him screaming obscenities at me for being so stupid not to have tightened the lid, now making him late for breakfast. I would have ended up in tears, and felt guilty for ruining everyone else’s Mother’s Day. Today, I didn’t have to do that.
Before my present husband got sober, how this incident played out would have depended on how much he had already had to drink that morning. Suffice it to say that regardless of how it occurred, I would have blamed myself for spilling the creamer, which led to the unrest that (I thought) caused my husband to drink more, ended up in tears and felt guilty for ruining everyone else’s Mother’s Day. Today, I didn’t have to do that.
Today, I grabbed some paper towels and mopped up the worst of the mess and said, “Eff it--we can clean the rest later, let’s go eat!” And we did. And no one, including me, cared that there was creamer spilled in the fridge. No one yelled. No one got angry. No one was drunk. There was no guilt. There was no blame. There was just breakfast, and laughter, and love.
I realize now that I had to do all of those things to understand that I didn’t HAVE to do those things. Today, I understand that it’s okay to put myself first sometimes. If in any one of the previous scenarios, had I chosen to put myself first and release my self-judgment around being stupid for spilling the creamer; they all would have diffused very quickly and there would have been no ugliness. Today, I understand that unless I take care of Marti first, I have nothing to give anyone else anyway. And I am so very grateful to be me—now.
Take the time to put yourself first. Be kind to yourself. Love you, first; and everything else becomes so much easier. You will find strength you didn’t know you had, kindness where you least expect it, and love you never thought was possible.
You might even find out that there is no use crying over spilled creamer.