Musings from Mom :: Be Generous
Generous. A small, but mighty word. Well, maybe not too small, medium in size, but definitely, mighty in nature. Generous, to me, is giving, in abundance. Sometimes that looks like tangible objects…items like food, clothing, books, maybe things that help the less fortunate or those in need. But often times, I forget that being generous isn’t always about the monetary side of it. Being generous also relates to time, effort, emotions, feelings, honesty, our heart, being vulnerable.
It may not appear this way to you, but I have recently defined myself as an introverted extrovert. Thanks to all the Facebook quizzes and new age thinking leading to lots of research about things we never really thought about before, I oddly relate to this new societal concept. Totally content to stay in my jammies, behind this keyboard and write for 10-hours straight, without looking away, and maybe getting up to go to the bathroom and grab more coffee or a small bite to satisfy. I would rather shop alone, see a movie alone, sometimes even eat alone, because the thought of having to talk to someone can be exhausting to me. Which is a wild concept if you know me because you would think…this girl is FUN! She’s always up for anything and is super social. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good party. I love to have cocktails, and sing and dance and laugh and make others laugh…for like one time during the month. Then, I’m good. Don’t have to do it again until next month. As long as I can remember, I loved being a part of the social scene, but I also remember how tired and drained I felt when it was over. I mean look at my career paths…marketing, events, social media…you HAVE to be social in all of those things! Before that…cheerleader, student government, social chair in my sorority…again, more things where I CHOSE to be in a position where I HAD to be social. And, as a mother of four, and a wife to a casino exec…yup, more social stuff with lots of different circles where I have to know lots of things so I can talk about lots of different topics on all levels of social standards. Which leads me to being generous. (Yes, still the topic, hang in there.)
Now, if you are a close friend of mine, you will most likely agree with what I said above. But the true test of our friendship will be knowing that I am pretty introverted. I am very selective in my close circle of friends. Why? Because it is very difficult for me to be generous with my feelings. This was something I worried about with becoming a mother. Honestly, it still is. When my kids were babies, it wasn’t a problem. The love and emotion was overflowing. My cup runneth over. It still does. But, as they are entering their tweens and teen years, I’m noticing my feelings and emotions beginning to shut down a bit…not because I don’t love them more than life, but maybe more as a defense mechanism. Like I don’t want to be vulnerable with them. Which is probably when I should be exposing these feelings the most, so they can learn and grow more emotionally as they enter adulthood. I have a really hard time being generous with my feelings and emotions…with being open in general. It is something I have become mindful of, and I have worked on more and more as an adult. It is still difficult for me to let go of that fear of hiding my vulnerabilities behind this facade of strength and no emotion. It is not strong though, and sometimes if you let this part of your personality take over, you miss out on some of life’s most amazing moments.
That thought hit me really hard this past weekend. All four of my children were asked to participate in their former nanny’s wedding. The twins as ringbearers, my daughter, a flower girl and my oldest son, an usher. The bride and groom to-be went out of their way to individually ask each child to be in their wedding. They spent time with the kids throughout the year taking them to the movies, bowling, coming over for visits. We participated in the usual events leading up to the big day, the bridal shower, the ceremony rehersal and dinner. My kids were overjoyed they were still spending time with her even though she no longer worked for our family. Then the big day came, and the event was truly a celebration of life. My husband and I were so thrilled for our family to be there, and to watch our kids interact and participate and enjoy themselves. We were surrounded by two families and their friends who showed nothing but love and happiness to be there together. The event was extraordinarily beautiful. It will be one of my fondest memories. And, our being there happened because I allowed myself to be open and generous with this young lady whom we hired to come into, not only our home, but into our lives to help raise our babies and two littles. I had to trust this young twenty-something to be an extension of me with my most prized possessions. I had to trust her to teach and discipline and care for my kids the same way I would do it when I wasn’t around. That’s not easy. As a mother, I’m not sure it is ever easy to let someone, anyone, sometimes even their own father, be the one who is around your children when you are not. I could have very easily said, nope, I’m not going to allow myself to have any kind of relationship with her except for that of a professional one. I very easily, almost scary how easily, could have been cold and impersonal and matter of fact and business only, but something told me not to. Something told me to be kind, be generous, be open. So I did. It wasn’t easy.
Let me be clear…it wasn’t easy because my natural stance is to shut off. Remain the person in charge. Don’t show emotion. She was so opposite of that. Very loving, very trusting, very caring. She adored my kids, and they adored her. I couldn’t help but go back to my 20’s when I nannied for a family when I was in college. I hardly knew the parents at all because I would pick the kids up from school, take them to soccer or ballet, bring them home to do homework, feed them dinner. They were nice kids, but we never bonded. I don’t even think the parents really cared much when my semester ended for the summer and I had to quit the job. They just moved on to the next nanny. I didn’t want my kids to be that way with anyone who was spending almost just as much time with them daily as I was. I had to make a choice. I chose to be generous.
The first time I met her mom, she became a little more human to me. I know that sounds funny, but until then, she was a sweet, kind, super creative and organized college girl who was in a sorority. She traveled with us, and on one trip, she had her mom drop her off at our house. All of a sudden, she became someone’s daughter. And I felt so grateful for her mother to allow her the independence to have this job. To trust US with HER daughter. Soon after, we met her now husband, then her dad, and finally her younger brother. My kids celebrated many New Years with her and her future husband,she travelled to Telluride, San Diego, and Disneyland with us, shared birthdays and sleepovers, and countless other memories. She became a part of their lives, our lives, in a way that might not have happened if I didn’t allow myself to be vulnerable and open. I would have missed out on all of this, and most importantly, my kids would have missed out on all of it, too, if I hadn’t given in to being vulnerable and generous.
Mom’s musing: Don’t be stingy with your thoughts, emotions, feelings, your heart. It’s not going to be easy. Well, might be easier for some than others. The older we get the tougher we get, the harder it is to be generous with our love, thoughts, emotions. When you have the courage to let down your guard, open your heart, be generous…those are the times when the most precious moments, the most valuable life lessons become available to us. You might miss out if you don’t. I never really understood what that meant when people would say it to me. Until now. xoxo, Mom
Marlinda Davis said:
Hey Stefanie! I enjoyed this article and reading your thoughts on generosity. You are so right. Being generous is so much more than money. In a world that is so money focused we forget that we actually can physically live without it but time, thoughts, and the other things you mentioned are a part of us that we can’t live without. I am glad that you came to realize this in time and hope that this article helps many others. It’s really tough to self-evaluate and admit this sort of thing to yourself let alone publish it to the world. That’s pretty awesome 🙂
Keep up the good work and keep sharing. I enjoy your blog a lot!