On Mother’s Day, my adorable little daughter ran to my car from her dad’s with a handful of miscellaneous objects that she presented to me as “gifts.” There was a broken flower, a piece of string she explained was a necklace, a card that she made out of a folded piece of paper, and a pen that she had taped a silk flower blossom to the end of (for me to “use at work”).
Bless her heart! She’s so full of love and wants so badly to do something nice for the people she cares about. Clearly, she used every bit of imagination and ingenuity combined with any scrap of anything valuable she could literally dig up in order to give me a present on my special day.
Father’s Day is just around the corner, so I am fully aware that she will probably try to work some magic with what limited resources she has as an 11-year-old to give her dad something for his day.
In years past, her dad and I have done nothing for one another, not even exchanged salutations on each other’s birthdays. My give-a-damn broke after years of bending over backwards to celebrate his special occasions with a homemade cake, favorite dinner, and a thoughtful gift, only to typically have my days completely forgotten or commemorated with a last second token picked up at the grocery store.
When we divorced, I said “no way am I continuing to do anything for him when he could never bother to do a thing for me, even when we were married!”
I have had a change of heart on this matter, and I plan to implement my new philosophy starting this Father’s Day.
That’s right, folks, I am going to buy him a present!
Why, you ask?
Before you run to the medicine cabinet to retrieve a thermometer to take my temperature, let me explain my new rationale for what I am dubbing “The Generosity Project”:
The gift he will receive will not be for him. Oh, yes, he will take it in his hands, unwrap it, and probably enjoy it; but, it will be for my children. I want my kids to have the pleasure of giving a nice gift to someone they love, not some crappy (albeit sweet as sweet can be) handful of string and scraps that they re-imagined into a “present”; but, something they can have fun picking out and take pride in giving.
What they do with the money I give them will be their choice;so, it may be used to purchase ingredients to bake him a treat, to order something they think he will like, or for supplies to craft something for him. They will also have the lesson of how to make a budget work for them so that all of the things they want ( card, present, gift wrap, and so on) can be obtained. I’m curious to see what they come up with!
I remember being a little girl with no money of my own, but a heart brimming with love, and wanting to do something nice. I want to encourage my kids to be thoughtful and generous rather than selfish and inexperienced as gift givers.
I don’t want them to give up on being generous either because they have no means to buy a present or are ashamed of what they are able to come up with.
I want them to have practice in thinking up gift ideas, shopping for the gift, wrapping it, and giving graciously.
I want my son to grow up to be the kind of husband who remembers his wife’s birthday, Valentine’s Day, and their anniversary and will be competent to give her gifts instead of a man who bumbles through his relationships and is perceived as uncaring or thoughtless.
I don’t expect to see anything in return on my birthday or Mother’s Day, and I’m okay with that. It’s more important to me for them to experience the art of giving. It’s fine if they have the side benefit of seeing that their mother is willing to be supportive of their loving relationship with their dad; so, maybe they can even learn a lesson in putting differences and the past aside for the benefit of others.
We have an interesting experiment ahead of us. I expect that my kids will be excited, and my ex will be perplexed. I’ll be interested to see what develops from our experiment. I will be content to know that my children have learned some valuable life and relationship skills, and I will feel better knowing that I’m not perpetuating dysfunction because of my feelings about their dad. Hopefully it’s a win-win for all of us!