A few years ago, when I found myself transitioning into the role of a single mother, I made myself a promise. I decided that I would never lead my daughter to believe that she was in any way responsible for my happiness. I wanted her to feel free to live her own life, without ever feeling guilt or doubt about leaving me behind. I didn’t want to be a burden. I felt proud of that decision, until recently, that is.
Emuna asked what she could do for me for my birthday. Immediately my inner martyr popped right up, and I gave her a quick smile as I replied that I didn’t need a thing. She should not worry about it all. She said ok and went about her merry little way.
Truth? I found myself a tad bit disappointed. I had to question why. The scene played out exactly as I had envisioned it. I honestly didn’t want or need anything for my birthday. I also did not want her to spend any of her own money on a gift for me. So why was I bothered by the whole thing?
After quite a bit of thought, I came up with this idea. I was failing my daughter. I was doing her a disservice. In my attempt to put some space between us, I had neglected to teach her a valuable lesson. I didn’t teach her that sometimes it’s necessary to show someone how much you care for them. When you love someone, at times, you need to do something to show them that. Even it means going out of your way, or spending time or money on them. I need to show her how to express her gratitude and love. I need to teach her the absolute joy that can come from doing something thoughtful for someone. I need to teach her how to be a giver.
So, yes, Emuna- I do you want you to do something for my birthday. I want you to take the time to show me that you love me and that you appreciate the things I do for you. I want to know that you have spent some time thinking about me, not what you want to give, but something you think I want to receive. I want you to plan it and execute it. I want you to step out of your own world for just a few minutes and see everything that is happening all around you.
I want dinner. I want a cake. I want conversation. Maybe even with a few friends. Please, do it with a smile. And when you’re done, I want you to clean up. (Hey, it’s my birthday. I’m allowed to wish for the impossible!)