A few weeks back, I had invited one of my closest friends

and her family over for a home-cooked dinner. She is one of my closest friends,

a stable rock I can always lean on, and a friend who can understand my needs

even before I say them out loud. In short, I am truly blessed to have her love

and friendship in my life.

She kept saying no to my

invitation. She reminded me that I have a little toddler, am pregnant with my

second one, work full-time and part-time in grad school and that I should not

be taking this project on—and if anything, she should be the one cooking for me.

She then kept insisting that I

should order take out or simply meet at her place. I kept insisting, because I

wanted to cook for her and her family and spend time together. In the end, I

won and she came over.

After dinner was all done and my

friend had graciously helped me load the dishwasher and clean up my counter

tops, she came up and had this look of guilt and said to me, “I feel bad I made

you work so hard, look at how tired you are.”

My typical response would have

been, “Oh no, it’s not that much work, I always cook anyway so it’s all good.” It’s

true that most meals on weekends are elaborate and festive in our house, but

this time I said something that required more courage.

“Yes, I am tired and physically exhausted and cannot wait to hit the bed… but I am also equally nourished, nurtured, and joyful with you and your family’s presence.”

We both gave each other a big hug

with gratitude in our eyes for the love we share.

I worked hard that night, but

there was tremendous meaning and joy in cooking for one of my favorite people,

having meaningful conversations, and then cleaning up together.

As I reflected on that

experience, I realized that there are so many times when we work hard because

we want to prove something to someone, please our ego, get something from

someone else, or because society expects us to. Those activities can be purely

draining with very little nourishment.

However, when we work hard from a place that brings meaning and aligns with our values, the effort we put in brings ease and fills up our own hearts and creates more space to give, to contribute, and to live a more meaningful life.

There are so many times when it is much

easier to not do the work that I feel

is needed in my life because it takes effort. And yes, sometimes boundaries are

absolutely needed and I do have nights when I meet friends at a restaurant rather

than having them over.

But, I have also learned that my life is much more

meaningful when I say yes to hard work

with intention and purpose.

It takes more effort to compost than to

throw everything in the trash, it takes more effort to use cloth diapers for my

son and wash them every few days, and it takes more effort to raise 10K for a cause that matters to me.

But in

the end, it fills up my heart, creates meaning, and brings a smile to my face

that allows me to be who I am and bring my best in the world.

As a mother, what do you say yes to and what do you say no to? Are there things that take effort but also bring ease? How can you bring more of those gifts into your life and the lives of others?