In my kitchen here in Brewster, there's a jar. It seems pretty utilitarian, but it has a secret: it's magic. This magic jar is always there for me when I need it. It's perpetually full of good-quality ground coffee so that whenever I want to brew a fresh cup, it's easy. The jar sits right next to our coffee maker, nestled in next to the sugar dish, always prepared to help me out with a soothing cup of hot coffee.
Now, you might think this post is about coffee, and while I could wax poetic about it all day, what I actually want to talk about is the magic of having that jar always full. It's never empty, so I never have to think about it first thing in the morning; it really is magical. But here's the thing: we don't have a coffee fairy at our house (although that would be amazing), and my partner almost never refills the jar. I do. I tend to this jar with an almost religious devotion, making sure that whenever it's empty I fill it.
So... why is this so magical? It's literally just a jar of ground coffee that I keep full. And honestly, I don't really know why it feels so magical and loving, but it does: having that jar always at the ready for myself feels like a hug from a friend every morning. And I've been thinking about that, about the magic that we create for others in our lives.
When I was small, I thought magic was real. I believed it so hard, and I just knew I would find a real live unicorn in the woods one day. But magic always came from outside me: I imagined I would stumble on it one day, or it arrived in the form of Santa Claus, or my parents would make an event feel magical for me. As I grew into my teenage and college years, I relied (heavily) on friends and partners to create my magic for me. As I got into my twenties, it was all about the romance: any magic there was in the world had to come from a man performing romantic gestures at me. I pestered my partner to bring me flowers, only to realize that I actually don't like flowers very much and they didn't make me feel special; they just wilted and the water smelled funky.
But filling this jar made me realize something: nobody needs to create your magic for you. It's great when they do, but other people are not our only or even our primary source of magic. And I've found that when we create some for ourselves, it's so powerful. This jar of coffee isn't just a jar of coffee, it's a reminder that I can care for myself. That I matter, that when I take the time to do something kind and loving for myself it feels wonderful. That not having to go rummaging through the cupboards for coffee when I'm half asleep in the morning is a gift that I give myself every day.
As we get into our adult lives, particularly as parents, magical moments can become few and far between. And as women, we grow up being told that any magic we create for ourselves doesn't count; somehow, it's only valid if we get it without asking for it. Well, I'm calling bullshit on that. We should be asking for what we want instead of passively waiting for it to arrive. And if no one can give it to us, we have the power to give it to ourselves. It still counts. It's still special. And I'm not letting partners and friends off the hook by saying this: I know when I'm having a hard time and I'm stressed out, having someone do something kind for me feels amazing. I also know that as a mom, I spend a ton of time creating magic for my kids and I love to create some for my friends and partner when I am able. So yes, we should all be creating magic for each other when we can, and also: we don't need to wait around for others to do it for us.
I know it sounds oversimplistic, and I know that self-care is the new buzzword that everyone likes to throw around when some of us feel like we can't even carve out a minute to go pee by ourselves. And if you can't create magic for yourself right now, that's okay. No pressure, you're not 'doing it wrong', you're doing your best. But let's stop relying on our partners, our parents, on everyone else, to create all our magic for us and start creating some for ourselves. What could you do, right now, within the time that you have, to create some magic for yourself? Maybe it's buying or picking yourself some flowers, maybe it's enjoying your cup of tea while it's still hot and taking a moment to breathe in that steam. Maybe it's just keeping your jar of ground coffee full, or making some hardboiled eggs and cut veggies so that you have an easy lunch to grab later. And maybe it won't feel magical. But maybe it will. Think of it as a loving hug from your past self.
Liz Libby is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, a Certified Lactation Counselor, and a CAPPA-certified childbirth educator. She lives in Brewster, MA with her three wild boys, canine sidekick, and her partner. Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org.