Parenting,  Personal Writing

Some gifts are not all that obvious

I was with a friend earlier this week. She and I have boys who are two days apart and have been friends since Kindergarten. They are excellent young men, and we equally adore them. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to occasionally complain about where they are concerned.

She said, “I don’t know where I went wrong. My children feel little need to bring me gifts.”

I quickly agreed. Would it pain my son to think about sending a Mother’s Day present? Apparently, if recent Mother’s Days are any indication, it might.

I mentioned another friend who also has a boy our boys’ age as well as two others, and her social media posts that often show a bouquet of flowers or something else equally beautiful one of her boys sent—completely out of the blue. Once, she wrote that when her boys come to their home for dinner, they bring a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates, flowers, AKA, a gift for the hosts.

I’ve never forgotten that because I was so stunned I almost fell over. That would NEVER happen at my house. And I’ve often wondered what she did while they were growing up to impress upon them the value of being present and thoughtful in this particular way about her.

So my friend and I were bemoaning this “flaw” in our children. While bemoaning, we also recognized we don’t actually want anything and that it was pretty insignificant in the big picture. It’s the principle of it more than any actual missing gifts.

And then my phone rang. It was Quinn.

I said, “Hey babe, what’s up?”

He said, “Nothing. I was just thinking that when you come out here (which we’re doing in a couple of weeks), I want to make sure we make time to talk through your Personal Systems Disruption [editor’s update: now Discover Your Spark] work together. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and have some ideas for how to move it forward.”

Wine, chocolate, flowers…or this?

I get it’s not necessarily an either/or. And I’m not implying anything about my friend whose boys bring and send literal gifts. I still think that’s glorious, but it’s not the relationship I have with Quinn. It’s not the expectation I set on him or the way I trained him to think, and that’s on me.

I’m sharing this because it’s a perfect example of spending time looking longingly at the green grass of someone else’s life while missing the patch of lush garden right under your own two feet.

What do I want in my own life right now? I want to grow this work. What did Quinn deliver, completely out of the blue? The gift of his not only having spent time thinking about how to help me grow it but then the follow through of letting me know about it, too.

It’s so easy to receive an unexpected present and fail to recognize it for what it is because it doesn’t look the way someone’s else’s presents look. Consider what presents you are receiving and be grateful, both for the gifts and the giver. It turns out, not all presents come wrapped up with a bow, but all of them have value.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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