The thing is, I hadn't left the pressed flower for my own sake. I'd never expected to read that book again; it was for future children to find. I am not often tender in such a way with myself.
So many women seem to have inherited the memory of a million mothers saying down the ages, "be a good servant and always put others first." We have an instinct to deny our own hunger when there's only one piece of pie remaining and someone else is sitting at the table. This is really a beautiful thing, and I for one honour that women have taken on the burden and the blessing of ensuring that other people get care and loving consideration.
But of course you know what follows. We must care for ourselves also. Not just so we remain strong and nourished in order to keep on serving others, but simply because we too deserve loving consideration for our own sakes. We tell each other this all the time. But I've been thinking, why do women find it so hard to follow that advice? Is it because they have so few examples to follow? I know there are plenty of women in the media who are infamous for taking very lavish care of themselves. But in real life, how many women do you know who feel no guilt at sitting with a novel even if their children are bored, or staying in bed when sick but there's work to be done, or who spend money on perfume to make themselves happy?
And do you have other women in your lifes who care for you gently, with wholehearted service? Sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, neighbours, friends?
For that matter, how well do the men in your lives serve you? I don't mean husbands so much as men in general. It used to be that a gentleman would be thoughtful of the different ways he might smooth the edges of a woman's life - opening a door for her, walking on the outside edge of the footpath, all those small, old-fashioned gestures which were about honouring another person rather than suggesting she is weak and incapable.
If other people do not show a woman tenderness, how will she come to believe that she deserves it? And how will she learn the many little ways she can be kind and loving to herself?
sharing with the wise women linkup