How many times have you asked for something for YOU…I mean, really and truly for yourself? If you’re like me (and most moms out there), the answer is probably, “not very often.” Moms are by nature (and often forced nature), givers. We give of ourselves nearly every minute of the day….to our children…our husbands…our homes…our jobs…our animals…But how often do we stop and take a minute just for US? As I approach my…gasp…30th birthday in just a few weeks, I started to consider what it was that I truly wanted…

When I was little, I remember pulling out the Penney’s catalog, and carefully making lists of each and every toy I wanted. Several notebook pages and hundreds (or thousands) of dollars later, I had my list….Now, when someone asks me what I want for my birthday, my mind immediately jumps towards the intangibles…”I want my children to be joyful.” “I want my husband to achieve his dreams.” My list of dolls, clothes, and tea sets has transformed into life-altering, circumstance changing, matters of the heart….When I think about it, these items don’t belong on a birthday list…they belong in my prayers. It’s natural to answer that “all I want is for my family to be happy and healthy,” etc. etc., but leave those things to God….ask HIM for those things, not just on your birthday, but EVERYday!

If the desires of your heart really are items that can only be handled by something bigger than you, it’s time to re-think your birthday list…Take some time and think of things that would truly be just for YOU. As mothers, it is so easy to ALWAYS put our family first….it comes naturally to us, and like I said earlier…we often need to. However, it’s time to stop spending your gift cards and birthday money on things for your kids (guilty as charged), to stop asking for the type of cake that your husband likes best (also guilty), and come up with a list of things that would make YOU happy. I’m not suggesting you make a list of material things…Madonna I am not…never really been a “material girl”, and sometimes, I’d rather not get something, than get something and have to find a place for it! Get creative! Think of experiences…services…acts of love….small things that would make your life easier….make you happier…put you first…if only just for a day…even a few hours…When we refuse to take time for ourselves, we so quickly burn out…(And a burnt out mom is no fun for anyone! Just ask my kids and husband!) I wanted to share with you my list of birthday requests….I thought that even if your big day isn’t coming up, these are ideas that any woman can ask for anytime she needs a mom break….It is OKAY to ask for some time to yourself…to ask for help…to ask to have your needs met…(Just remember to exercise some give and take, and allow your husband the same respect and treatment!)

Remember, that as with any list, almost no one gets to cross every item off when the day is done…Know in advance that your day will not be “magical.” Women have a tendency to build holidays and birthdays up in their mind as momentous and magical events, and then, when life happens, and the day is not a 24/7 Kodak moment, we become discouraged, as we’ve allowed our crazy expectations get the better of us…Already, I know that I’m not going to get my “perfect” day…I have to lead a meeting for pity’s sake on my birthday…BUT, it’s fun to dream….It’s fun to imagine…and you never know, someone might surprise you and check SOMETHING off your list! Just be open for what does and doesn’t happen, and be grateful either way.

Now, if I’m being honest, what I really want for my birthday is a trip or a puppy….Financially, we’re not in the best place, so realistically, I know that a lovely get-away or a new furry friend are probably not in my future. So, I wanted to come up with a list of things that ANYONE could ask for….no matter what their bank accounts look like at the moment…Just remember that a gift doesn’t have to come from Tiffany’s to be special….An act of service, a simple gesture, a home-made cake, a folded basket of laundry….all can mean more than something shiny or costly…

The first list is made up of things that would comprise my “perfect birthday experience.”

1. A breakfast treat…(As my b-day is a Sunday, and I’m married to a pastor, I know my best bet on this one is to ask for donuts!) –> Not having to make breakfast and/or listen to my children squabble over not wanting cereal, etc. would be a HUGE gift!

2. A fun family outing –> Think about places that all of you enjoy together…YOURSELF included! If the children’s museum stresses you out, don’t go there! If you love the zoo, head that way! If you’re into the park, find a couple! Pack a picnic, take a walk or a bike ride, cruise the mall with the stroller, hit up the local amusement park…just go somewhere with your family that amuses everyone! (even you!)

3. A clean house –> In my perfect world scenario, someone would come over while we were out on the outing, and clean the house for me…Really, doesn’t every mom just really want a BREAK?! I would seriously trade diamonds for scrubbed toilets and mopped floors any day…

4. Dinner that I didn’t have to make (enough said!) (And a cake too!)

5. A backrub….(longer than five minutes…no complaints…where I don’t have to listen to an action movie whilst receiving it)

Another great idea to ask for for your birthday is for projects to get completed! Here is my little wish list..

1. Downstairs bathroom to be painted

2. Garage to be cleaned out

3. Yard work done

4. Garden planted

(Think about things that need to get done around the house. Your birthday is sort of the one day you can ask for one of these things without being “naggy.” If your husband doesn’t get it done, don’t allow yourself to become bothersome to him about it. The goal here is not to disrespect our husbands or demand work from them….Just ideas to creatively give and receive gifts that don’t come from the store. These are awesome ideas to use to reciprocate as well! Are there projects that HE would like to get done that you can complete for HIS birthday? Do you have a special friend that you can show love to on their birthday by doing a chore or project for them? I absolutely love this idea, and would love to start seeing more people give acts of service instead of trinkets from the store. Who can you bless this year on their birthday in this way?)

Here are some other things I’d LOVE that moms can ask for ANYTIME they need/deserve a little break! (Again, these are things that can be reciprocated for your man!)

1. Control of the remote (We have this rule down on our birthdays…This is the only way I’ve gotten my husband to watch certain movies! Last year I made him watch Amelie…this year, I’m thinking Anne of Green Gables!)

2. 2 hours of being locked in the bedroom by myself (ZERO interruptions and the freedom to nap, read, watch tv, blog, etc…all alone!) (If I was being honest, I’d really love more than two hours….solitude for a whole day sounds like absolute heaven to me…However, I’m realistic, and would be so grateful for the couple of hours!)

3. Alone time (Ask to get out of the house by yourself! It doesn’t matter what you go do, just go alone….Have a few hours without having to talk to a five year old…without having to break up fights…or listen to children’s songs…sounds heavenly huh?!)

4. Help with chores without having to ask for it (I am so much more in love with my husband any time he does something that usually falls on my plate without being asked…)

5. Freedom from any unpleasant parenting tasks for the day (For me, this would mean, no poopy diapers, no bath time, and no putting the kids to bed)

Just remember that a birthday gift doesn’t have to come from the store…it comes from the heart. Your day won’t be wondrous…As my mom used to tell me, “Everyday isn’t Disneyland,” and we can’t let our expectations run away from us. Our kids will still act like kids…messes will be made…chores will need to be done…work and duty will call…BUT, allow yourself to take a bit of time just for YOU…even if just for a few minutes…a few hours…You are worth it, and you are loved. Happy Birthday to every mother, happy birthday to YOU!