Sunday, May 8, 2011

Tender Loving Care

I was exhausted, not much more than a heap of clothes and curls and weary bones, pondering my hectic week past and upcoming travel and feeling overwhelmed. Then a friend offered to come over and cook dinner for me, offered to take decision-making off my plate, take entertaining off my responsibility list, take Saturday night and turn it into something different than a date, providing me with dinner and hugs and TLC.

I try to provide TLC, enjoy caring for people and spoiling those I'm crazy about, and it is hard for me to let someone do this for me. As much as I enjoy the feeling it gives me to provide comfort, particularly unexpected love unrelated to any given holiday or event, it didn't occur to me until later today that letting someone else provide this for me might be giving him that same kind of pleasure. And that perhaps my own zealous care-giving might actually be a shield from allowing/hoping someone else to do the same for me.

Much has been written about random acts of kindness, and having compassion for ourselves and others ("Self-Compassion" by Kristin Neff is one of my current reads), but I think there is something else to be explored: caring and caregiving, taking and giving. In fact, there's probably a lot about the subject which has been written and just not on my radar. Is it common for my generation of women not to be able to accept help and comfort easily? Without a doubt, though I suspect we share this commonality with many many others, men and women both, of all ages. We may have learned that it is OK to pay for spa treatments, but the vulnerability of being cared for, pampered, spoiled - not for payment but simply by a caring person - is brand new.

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