nice to me (by 33)

I recently turned 32. It was a beautiful birthday, and I mean that in all possible ways — the weather was perfect, my kids were happy, my friends and family sent messages and filled my whole day with love. Jason bought me a bread maker I’ve yet to use (today’s the day!). Boone poured me a giant glass of orange juice, miraculously without spilling. Most of it went back into the jug after he went to school, but I truly appreciated the gesture of the 32 ounces of OJ. Jonah and Jason and I went to lunch in downtown Zeeland and caught Pokemon and laughed. Afterward I took a killer nap. It was a good day.

“We need to take a happy birthday selife! Quick, Jonah’s escaping!”

I put a lot of credit for the good day on other people. Nice notes from friends and family – how considerate of them! My husband sacrificing sleep on a week of the night shift so he could hang out with me – what a kind thing he did! My kids were nice and not incredibly insane – way to keep it together, guys!

Now. All of these things are TRUE. I do have considerate friends and family and a kind husband and occasionally not-insane kids. But my friends are often considerate. My husband is often kind. My kids are… OK, well two out of three ain’t bad. What made this day so especially great?

I was expecting greatness.

I love my birthday. It’s in the single best month of the whole year, I get lots of free things (thanks for the coffee, Starbucks, and the mini makeup kit, Sephora, and, for some reason, 25% off my order of kids clothes, The Children’s Place), and I wake up expecting the day to be great.

Maybe I wake up with the same not-rested-enough headache that greets me most mornings, but I don’t care. Maybe Jonah screeches like a monkey while waiting 15 seconds for his breakfast to be placed in front of him, but I don’t care. It’s my day! The day that symbolizes another successful journey around the sun. I give myself the freedom to relax. And I need to do this more often.

OK, OK, I can’t live everyday like it’s my birthday. For one thing, I am worried it would diminish the glory of the actual day. For another thing, I don’t have enough free Starbucks drinks to replicate the experience day after day. (And if I chose to buy them everyday, my wallet would get significantly smaller. My waistline would have the opposite problem.) 

But I can do a much better job of expecting greatness.

When we are stuck in a rut with Boone, or in the throes of potty training with Jonah, sometimes I wake up already pessimistic for the day. How many rude comebacks will I hear from my first grader? How much toddler pee will I clean off the floors today? 

Listen. The first grader will be rude. The toddler will pee. But if you go in expecting the day to be hard; spoiler alert – it will be. So I’ve decided to focus my efforts on expecting the good days. Or at least being open to seeing the good. One way I’m doing this is to be actively making an effort to be nice to me. I don’t know about you, moms, but sometimes instead of winding down in a way that is calming and peaceful at the end of the day, I watch trash television in bed until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Or I run around and clean in a ridiculous, unnecessary way because “it’ll make tomorrow so much better!” But then I get to sleep too late and wake up with immediate frustration for the day.

For the duration of the year before I turn 33, I’m going to work on being #nicetomeby33. I’ll use the hashtag on social media and I hope that some of you will do the same. (Also acceptable:#nicetomeby 34 #nicetomeby40, #nicetomeby100; it’s never too late to start. Or maybe just #nicetome.) Expect goodness in your day, even if that goodness is simply reading a book at night instead of crashing in front of Ghost Adventures. You don’t have to change your habits entirely — return to Netflix tomorrow night, if you want. Just be nice to yourself. It will make you nicer to others. It will make you see and be the good the world needs. 

I think charcoal face masks with a weird bubbly oxygenating top layer is my new look.

#nicetomeby33 — now accepting participants!

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