My daughter Molly and her friends were sitting at the kitchen table talking about what they wanted for Christmas when one of her friends asked, “Do you guys get anything for your parents for Christmas?”
Molly: Yea, well I used to, but I don’t anymore.
Friend: I never have enough money to buy anything good anyway.
Molly: Well, one year, I saved up my allowance and I picked out a candle that was MY MOM’S favorite color and a calendar that I thought she’d like and she NEVER used them!
Me: I used the candle!
Molly: Nooooooo, you didn’t!
I opened the cupboard and took it down to prove my point. Oops.
Molly: See?! I told you so!
Me: Well, I meant to.
Molly: I tried SO hard and you didn’t even appreciate it. So, now I don’t even try.
Okay, I think I was being given a bit of a teenage guilt trip, but I still felt a deep pang in my heart. Now that Molly is racing toward 18, I realize how fleeting the time is that I have with my kids. And how those sweet, parent-pleasing gestures become few and far between.
What kind of a mother wouldn’t see the thought and love that went into those gifts?
Why didn’t I value her heartfelt gift of time and love THEN the way I suddenly do now?
I told her I was sorry I didn’t show her and her gifts the appreciation I should have back then (I think she was 9 at the time). We ended up laughing about it.
But I have to wonder if we’ll be having a similar conversation in a few years – only in reverse. I have a feeling that one day she’ll come to me and ask me to forgive her for not fully appreciating the gifts her dad and I gave her – time, sacrifice, discipline, guidance. She’ll feel regret for not understanding the love and thought that went into the decisions we made and boundaries we set. And, in hindsight, we’ll even be able to laugh about it (please tell me we’ll be able to laugh about it).
Maybe some gifts are more fully appreciated – not at the moment that they’re given – but from the rearview mirror, with a little time and perspective.
I’ll try to keep that in mind the next time one of my “gifts” doesn’t seem to get the gratitude it deserves.