Give Away, Oh Give Away

For Christmas, my hubby gifted me an Etsy gift card. Wow, what an awesome gift! Except, it took me forever to spend it because I wanted everything and, therefore, couldn’t decide on anything. 

Finally, I bought a few small, meaningful items, like this one:


This bracelet, stamped with a line from one of my favorite books – The Giving Tree, called to me.

I once taught a lesson about this book to a group of youth. While there are many analogies you can draw from it, I focused on how happy the tree was to serve the boy.

There is happiness in service, I taught them.

While I completely believe this to be true, I also have to be honest and say that I often feel like a Giving Tree for my kids. Oh, and… well… I’m not always happy about it.

In the mornings, it’s a rush to get my oldest dressed, fed, organized and ready for school on time.

Meanwhile, my two little ones that stay at home with me are incessant, little need-machines. They need and need and need. Meals. Milk by the gallons. {OMG, we go through SO much milk!} Snacks. More snacks. Entertainment. Discipline. Attention. Guidance. Affection. Social interaction. Help getting dressed. Help tying shoes. More help tying shoes. Help brushing teeth. Help using the bathroom. Help finding a Lego. Help putting on those rubbery Polly Pocket clothes. {Do you know how hard that is??}

And, it never ends! Their needs never fully get satisfied because in five more minutes, they’ll need something else or there will be another mess to clean up or another argument to sort out.

When my oldest comes home from school, it’s the same, but different story. She needs reassurance that she handled a tricky situation well. She needs a listening ear. She needs an ally. She needs snacks. Drinks. Stuff for a project. Help with homework. Understanding. Patience. Problem-solving. That one favorite pair of pants washed, dried and ironed for the next day.

And so it goes until they pass out in their beds.

Some days, I feel I’m getting lopped away, limb by limb, just to be the mom they need.

And, I find it very hard to feel happy about it.

Most days, I feel depleted and resentful and annoyed and overwhelmed and so, so, so tired.

Why can’t I feel as happy as that dang fictional tree?

Here’s what I think…

The tree gave what she had, even if it wasn’t exactly what the boy wanted. I’m guilty of trying to give my kids exactly what they want instead of just giving what I can. I want to solve their problems. I want to buffer negative consequences or feelings. I want them to be happy.all.the.time. So, sometimes I give what I emotionally don’t have. Or, I spread myself too thin. Or, I go too far in trying to please them because I don’t want to listen to them whine about eating another peanut butter sandwich when what they really wanted was grilled cheese. I have to learn how to be happy with what I’ve done, even if they feel disappointed. It’s okay for them to not be completely contented every minute of the day. Really.

Lastly, the tree didn’t preoccupy herself with how her gifts would limit her. If she didn’t have branches, she didn’t stew about never again  waving them in the wind.

Sometimes, I interpret my kids’ needs as something that won’t get met for me.

I hear a crash in the kitchen and think great, guess I’m not getting a shower today. One of them throws up and I think well, I can forget sleeping tonight. One of them is misbehaving at church and I think I suppose everyone knows I’m a terrible mother now.

If I live in the moment like the Giving Tree, give what I have and focus on the giving and not on what’s not personally being met for me, then I believe I can figure out how to be happy (ier).

I want this bracelet to be that reminder. I can be happy. I will be happy.

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