As of 2019 I have been a mother for twelve years and this season of motherhood is one of the most exciting and challenging seasons ever. This month we have been celebrating my son’s 10th birthday, all month long. And this year, as many years in the past, I found myself trying to find the perfect gift for my little 10-year-old. An annual ritual of trying to please your darling child with things seen on TV. But, I was faced with another inner struggle, do I really want to get another thing?
I couldn’t be the only one whose kids have a sea of toys that they “had to have,” but don’t even pick up once a year. The shelf in their room that has become a graveyard of “must have” toys. The toys that they cling to in a crying frenzy until you relent, only for you to find them in the most painful of ways by stepping on them. The toys that do not even begin to hold their interest beyond opening the box. I am sure this is a reality for many people. And as I struggled with what might be the perfect gift, I pondered so long that his birthday was upon me and I had nothing. Nothing besides a party at the movie theater with his friends, snacks, pizza and of course cake. And, that was enough.
Christopher was so elated to be celebrating with his friends that he couldn’t stop smiling. I watched my reserved son come alive as he laughed and joked with his friends. Talked about video games, watched YouTube videos and just enjoyed their company. He was more thrilled when we announced that it was time to sing happy birthday than when we announced it was time for presents. He beamed as everyone looked at him and sang “Happy Birthday.” And, at the end of the day, he told me that it was the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER! And in that moment a joy washed over me and a weight off of my back because my son had the best birthday over and I had not spent a mint on buying “the perfect present.” He had the best birthday ever, because he felt joy in being celebrated.
And there you have it folks. Stop wasting your time trying to find the best gift or the perfect gift or showering kids with more stuff. Instead, take it from me, that they will not remember what gadget they received on their 10th birthday. Instead, they will remember the experience of feeling loved, celebrated and recognized. Our kids, people in general, remember how they felt rather than remembering what they got. Kids only get to be kids for a short while and it is my hope that I focus on providing loving experiences and moments that they reflect on for the rest of their lives.
So now my mantra is to love my kids enough to say “no” to more junk in my house and to provide them with my time, my love and a lifetime of precious moments that they will always remember as the best times of their lives. What was the best time of your life? Hugging your mother who is no longer here, or walking in the park when the flowers are in bloom? Or laughing with friends over dinner? What ever it was, the best times in life don’t come from a shelf. At least in my humble opinion. Live, laugh love and journey on!
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