How to Show Your Love Even When Work is Crazy
I began thinking about what to get my mom for Mother’s Day no less than three weeks ago.
Various gift options kept popping into my mind in the most hectic times. While boarding a plane or in the middle of a meeting I’d think, OMG! MOTHER’S DAY! Get her that spa treatment! Don’t forget! And then I’d instantly second-guess the gift as being too tacky or expensive or impersonal.
Make her that photo collage! Flowers! Restaurant gift certificate! Ideas popped into my mind mid-sentence while I was trying to write a blog post like this one. I’d spend the next hour browsing photo-collage-making sites for the perfect option, only to then realize I couldn’t actually get my hands on the photos fast enough to make this all happen in time.
Nothing was clicking. As someone who prides myself on being a quality gift-giver, this was incredibly frustrating.
Before I knew it, and despite the increasingly panicked reminders that kept interrupting my thoughts, the day was upon us and I had failed to make any decision at all. I called my mom to send her my best and most heartfelt wishes anyway, of course, but inside I felt like a disappointment. I was tired from returning the night before from a recent trip. She sounded tired, too. She was boarding a flight home after a weekend visit with her mom.
Then came the guilt.
I’m the worst! I should have spent my time better! Why do I have such a hard time shopping for her?
Moments later I got a call from my dad, resident guilt expert. I said hello, but all he said was, “I’m taking a photo and sending it to you, can you look at it now?” He sounded almost out of breath. Confused, but not all that surprised, I agreed. In came a photo of my little sister holding up two similar but slightly-different gift options, clearly for my mom. He called me back to ask which I thought she’d like more.
It looks like I wasn’t the only one feeling panicked, guilty, and short on time.
But once I aired my own frustrations with my dad, he reassured me. “Buying gifts for your mom is the worst,” he said, “She’s the hardest to shop for and all she wants to do is hear from you, anyway.”
His words stuck with me. Sure, perhaps I was a lousy daughter who can’t take the time to truly come up with a meaningful gift for my precious mother. Or maybe, just maybe, we’re all driving ourselves batty with this nonsense that doesn’t actually fuel connection.
Or maybe, just maybe, we’re all driving ourselves batty with this nonsense that doesn’t actually fuel connection.
Maybe our relationships don’t need a photo collage to keep them strong or a scented candle to keep us close. Maybe in today’s hectic, overwhelming world, we can still show our love in meaningful (if miniature) ways that are more sincere than stressful.
So in honor of my priceless, impossible-to-shop-for mother, and all the loved ones out there who we want to care for even when work is crazy busy, here are a few strategies to keep in mind:
The Walk n’ Talk
You remember the original feature on your phone, don’t you? It’s the calling-people function. Are you still familiar with it?
Even when work is wild, most of us still have a commute of some kind. The dog must be walked in the morning, or you have to sit in traffic on your way into the office. Use that time to phone a friend, even if it’s a brief call. Hearing the voice of someone you love – even if just for a few minutes – can be an an instant mood-booster for both of you.
Call your freaking grandparents. None of us do it enough, and they SO appreciate it.
While texting may still be seen as the virtual sticky note of the modern era, it’s how you use the medium that matters most. If you can’t find time to call, take a moment to craft a personal, meaningful message that’s actually poignant. What I find amazing about texting is that it’s often easier to type out meaningful, heartfelt messages that would feel too cheesy to say out loud.
This text I sent my mom last week on National Nurse’s Day:
I hope this also serves as evidence that I’m not actually a heartless monster and I do, in fact, love my mama. And for the record, “Boo” was her nickname for me way before it was cool (circa 1988).
With the proliferation of texting, email, and social media, there’s one way to send a message that can actually get through the clutter on our digital devices: good old-fashioned snail mail.
After feeling terribly guilty about my Mother’s Day fumble, I popped a simple but sweet postcard in the mail to my mom yesterday, one that I hope will put a smile on her face.
I love the art of sending and receiving snail mail. If you’re similarly inspired, check out this rad box of postcards by Friends of Type or the always-on-point Empathy Cards collection from Emily McDowell here.
I first came across this phenomenon during my days as a political field organizer, which involved working countless late nights managing phone banks and door-to-door canvass efforts for campaigns. During that time, the sweetest people in my life who wanted to “be there for me,” but physically couldn’t opted to order pizza for delivery to our headquarters. It was always a welcome sight for hungry volunteers and staff alike.
This same concept holds true for all kinds of foods and treats. I’ve been known to send an Edible Arrangement or Godiva box set in my time, and there are plenty of healthier food delivery options out there, too. Just remember to send what they would love, not what makes your mouth water.
Better Late Than Never
The final reminder here is not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If you do feel strongly about finding the perfect gift and making the time to connect with the ones you love, make it happen when you can.
Guilt brought on by Hallmark card deadlines is a waste of energy. Let’s stop with the useless self-loathing and make plans to make it up to the ones we love when we realistically can.
Use your calendar to set aside dedicated time to make good on your intentions when work insanity dies down. Daily thoughts won’t be constantly interrupted by anxiety ninjas reminding you of this unfinished business if you know you’ve got a system for keeping tabs on when you’ll tackle it.
Tell me this – how do YOU show your love when life gets busy?
And how do you squash the guilt that can follow? I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we can all be better at showing our loved ones we care about them, even when it feels like there are never enough hours in the day.
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