When she told me a few days before Christmas that she needed to get me something, I gave my typical response. I don’t need anything. Or want anything.
But she persisted. Because, she had something in mind. Something she thought I needed. Something I had to have, without dispute.
Write me a letter, is what I usually say. Or, socks. Socks always make me happy. Both responses are generally met with eyerolls from the kids.
But, she was determined. So she worked with my mom to get this thing I had to have ordered. And then she watched as I opened it, all excited inside as I pulled it out of the gift bag it had arrived in.
“It might be big. But…I didn’t know…just thought you had to have it…”
She was doing that thing I had just done a few minutes earlier when I handed a gift I had made over to someone else. An adventure jacket – an idea I had heard about from a couple Ragnar teammates.
It was just a zip-up hoodie, but I had ordered patches from the parks this person had visited and ironed them on to the jacket. They were embroidered badges of accomplishment, harkening back to the good ol’ Girl Scout days.
In the moments after she opened it, she may have not even had time yet to fully pull it from the box, I started.
“It’s long. I know. I wanted it to be comfy. But I couldn’t tell…and…”
Ugh – rewriting the words I said exhausts me. Never was this habit of explaining away a gift more apparent than when my own daughter echoed similar sentiments back to me as I pulled out the shirt she ordered for me. The one she felt I needed to have.
It was made of the comfiest, dark gray fabric. It was loose, which is for sure my game. And, it said “Radiate Positivity.”
Those words. It was all about those words. I don’t care if the shirt was a crop top or one of those muscle shirts or super-duper tight. I’d wear it. Maybe not out in life, especially if it were a crop. But, still.
She felt I needed that shirt. That it fit me. And, at 13, she jumped through a couple hoops to get it.
What an amazing moment she gave me, a person who struggles to know for sure if I’m seen or felt or relevant to my kids and the way they see the world and me. Their view of me receives outside influences that are often colored in the opposite tones of the actual person I am, but I learned years ago that I can’t control the sinister intentions of others. And, I don’t want it infecting the time I have with them – or without them.
So I don’t let it. I just don’t let it in.
The only way I can show my kids who I am is to be exactly who I am. All the time. But that very thing is a bit at odds with this whole apologizing-a-gift-away habit. One more thing to grow from, I suppose.
Now, when I wonder how they see me, what they think about me, I can just open the second drawer in my dresser and see those two words shining back at me. And I’ll remember that they know exactly who I am.