As May dawns, I become vaguely aware that Mother’s Day is approaching, begin thinking about me for a change (ha ha!), and wonder about gifts I can bestow upon… myself. Expensive jewelry? An indulgent day at a spa, complete with massage, rose-scented oils, and exfoliation? A dozen (or more) red roses? As so many ads remind me, I deserve to “have it all”!
Self, you are worth it!
It then occurs to me that there are things more important than gifts of that ilk. It also occurs to me that I’d really rather see Wolf Hall on Broadway, but that’s neither here nor there. What is here and there is forgiveness. Kindness. Self-acceptance. Things I’ve been rather stingy with when it comes to myself.
So this Mama’s Day, I decided that the most valuable gift to myself was a shift in messaging. This was especially clear to me after taking part in our capoeira “batizado” on Saturday. My initial feeling about the batizado, where students are awarded new cords (or belts), was that I wasn’t ready and shouldn’t participate. I’m old, I’m out of shape, I need to train more, I told myself. I am not astute when it comes to the music side of things. There’s so, so much I need to learn and catch up on.
I then learned that our mestre (capoeira master) planned to present me with a cord and, even more important, that the teacher of the adult classes my husband and I attend, as well as the kids’ classes my son attends, was being awarded his “professor” cord. Africano has been such an incredible teacher to all of us and such an awesome human that I wanted to be there to support and cheer him on. So I decided to go.
Next I learned that I wasn’t receiving the very first cord, as I’d assumed, but the third cord. This is still a beginner-level cord, mind you, but it was more advanced than I thought I deserved. So, being the dweeb I am, I sent our mestre a message, letting him know I was fine with a lower-level cord, and reassuring him that he shouldn’t feel he had to give the hub-sand and me the same cord. (My husband is in great shape and is much stronger than I. He is also my hero, but that is the subject for another post.) My mestre very politely told me that it wasn’t my decision.
The batizado was a three-day affair, with workshops on Thursday and Friday evenings and all day on Saturday, culminating with the cord presentation. I had planned to go on Friday but alas, menopausal me was faced with the surprise return of a friend who rarely visits these days. And despite my obvious animosity, she insisted on going to bed with me early Friday evening.
Saturday’s schedule began at 10 am. We had two intense, sweaty workshops back to back, a lunch break, a samba lesson, and then open rodas (games). This was followed by a series of performances (another break for most of us capoeira students). By the time the awarding of the cords began, it was 6 or 6:30 pm, and I was well beyond worn out. As I sat next to the hub-sand, I whispered in his ear, “My butt is so sweaty, it itches when I sit.”
So when I got in the roda to play for my cord, I felt like an ancient, three-hundred-pound wreck. It wasn’t until the next day, Mother’s Day, when a kind capoeista friend sent me a video of myself (which I didn’t realize he’d taken), that I realized I hadn’t entirely sucked. (View the video yourself below.)
It does seem that my messaging really needs to change. Perhaps it’s okay to occasionally tell myself, “You rock, Sistah!” Maybe it’s all right to once in a while let myself feel proud for returning to capoeira at age 50. (The hub-sand and I met studying capoeira in San Francisco in the early 1990s.) And it might just be forgivable not to be 100% perfect, to have room to grow, to have lots to learn.
Here’s something I really do like about myself: I don’t hesitate to say I don’t know something; I don’t shy away from things just because I’ll start out looking like a silly beginner. Here’s something I can improve on: I undervalue myself. Majorly.
I’ll bet lots of us moms are similar. It may be a day late, but you won’t be a dollar short if you take a bit of time and space to be kind to yourself, to be your own cheering section, to say, “Self, you are okay,” and think about all the good stuff you do and are. Try it and you may find, as I have, that there are many people around you who’ll join in, cheer you on, and show you the love.
Now you, too, can watch the video. (It is 50 seconds long.) Axé!
Photos, top to bottom: Mama and her bestie on Mother’s Day; Handsome hub-sand; Mama’s Day flowers from my mom!