This is a time of year that people tend to mistake material things for love.
This line of thinking has, was, and always will irritate me and has been a big part of why I have never really been gung-ho about Christmas. Out of necessity when my kids were younger their Christmas gifts were usually school clothes (that I couldn’t afford much of when school started months earlier) and typically one fun thing. They knew we didn’t have much and appreciated what they did get. My mother, who loved them beyond words, typically went overboard with them. Five grandchildren in all and the pile of gifts under the tree filled a corner of the room. Every year I knew she would and I knew why. She couldn’t do much for my sister and I when we were younger and this was her way of trying to make up for that. It didn’t mean that she loved them more than she loved us. It didn’t mean that I loved my children any less than she did. We do what we are able to do with what we have at any given time and love can be shown in so many more ways than with gifts. I would much rather an afternoon again cooking in her kitchen than any gift that could be wrapped and placed under my tree. (Santa: Are you listening??)
When I was young my mother…….dated…… a bit. She married for a third time the summer before I was beginning my senior year of high school. She had only known this man for six months. We all tried to talk her out of it, thinking it was just another of her crazy ideas, but he changed her life. He was a wonderful, loving person that finally got my mother to a place that she could be the parent and grandparent we needed. He took amazing care of her, always.
My childhood wasn’t one that anyone would ever be jealous of and I always promised myself I wouldn’t repeat history with my own children. After my divorce as I started dating and introducing people to my children I realized I was a little. That stopped. I got to a point that I rarely introduced my children to the men I dated. This wasn’t exactly conducive to developing good lasting relationships. My mother would always ask why I didn’t invite these guys to family events. I would always tell her why, but she didn’t get it. She nagged the ever living hell out of me.
“You need to settle down.”
“You need to get married.”
“You need a man to TAKE CARE OF YOU, Samantha.”
Are your eyes rolling too? One spring I finally had enough. I yelled (as an adult I don’t think I had EVER yelled at my mother). I told her she should know why I was like that and to mind her own f&%@ing business. That went over really well.
Two months later she died and those two months had been strained because of my outburst.
Guilt?? HELL YEAH.
Flash forward five years to this week when my twenty-two year old daughter texted me that the pellet stove in her new house stopped working. The temperatures were forecasted to dip below zero that night. I worried, because it’s what I do. The next morning she texted me again letting me know that her husband had managed to fix it late the night before and they were all warm and toasty. I immediately responded that I was so thankful her husband was there to take care of her and their children.
My response stopped me in my tracks. WHAT did I just say to my incredibly strong and independent daughter? The one I raised to tackle anything that came her way?
I told her I was glad she had a MAN to take care of her. Ver-freaking-batum.
I had turned into my mother. And then I realized WHY I felt that way.
It was simple….. because I am their parent and I want my children (sons AND daughter) to be cared for.
I probably nag the hell out of my kids too. OK, no probably…..I do. I check on them when I know there’s an accident, seeing where they are and if they are OK. I make sure they know if roads are bad, you know in case they didn’t hear it from the fifty other places they get information from in this technology driven world we live in. I check on them when they’re sick. I check on them when their kids are sick. I check on them…..often and I do this because I love them. This made me realize that my own Mother’s nagging, the stuff that drove me absolutely INSANE, may possibly have been for the same reason.
Hmmm….can you say MORE GUILT?
I’m sure she knew I could take care of myself, hell, I’d been doing it long enough. I’m sure she knew I was tired of doing it all and she just wanted someone, like my step-dad, to help take some of the pressure off of me. She was never one to get all mushy and tell me she loved me, but THIS was how she showed her love to me and I completely missed it. This has to be at the top of the list of my smart girl being a complete dumb-ass moments and trust me there are some doozies on there.
So as we get closer to Christmas and Valentines Day and just…..tomorrow, what messages are you missing from the people in your world? Are you waiting for a pile of gifts under the Christmas tree? A Disney vacation? A huge diamond ring from that guy you can’t imagine spending the rest of your life without? Some grand proposal complete with flash mob dancers?
Do you really need grand gestures for someone to prove their love for you?
Can we just look deeper into the little, simple, every day things in life and realize that people show us all the time how much love they hold for us. We just have to make sure we take a step back to see it for what it truly is and not what it may be disguised as.
Take a step back. Look. Realize how surrounded by love you are.