The Giver

It’s Winter Solstice and Christmas time. The meditation this morning at the UU Fellowship was, “Who are you during this season? What are you made of? What are you called to do, to be during this season?”  In a delicious moment of silence, I had the following insights:

This year, I am foremost a mother of small children. This year, I am THE GIVER.

I give my milk. I give my sleep, my time, energy, love, and patience to my children.  I give them my mental space.

Not just in this holiday season, but in this season of my life, I am the giver. I give my family the gifts of healthy food, structure and routine, security and safety, reassurance and a steadfast presence that can be trusted.

I’m ok with this (and I’m a feminist). The Giver is not the same as The Martyr. Martyrs operate as though their greatest worth comes from fully giving up themselves for others, with no hope or expectation of ever getting one’s self back.  Givers know they can grow within themselves through the practice of giving. They find a deep well on which to draw from to nourish themselves so that they can do the work of nourishing others.  It’s not the same as losing yourself. It’s making a long term investment in relationships that really matter.

I’m at peace with this role, because it is one of many seasons in my life. I can give this much because this is the season to do so, and I know that I will be replenished.

Someday, a soon day in the course of my whole life, no one will need me to turn the food I eat into milk for them to drink as their sole source of sustenance. No one will need me to rock them back to sleep at 2am. No one will need me to help them learn how to use the toilet, or how to button their shirt.  Someday I will get a full night of sleep, and someday I won’t need to make anyone’s lunch but my own. Hell, someday someone will make lunch for me.

As exhausting as life is right now with a five-month-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old, this is how it’s supposed to be during this season of life. It Just Is. And it won’t always be. More space and time will open up for new pursuits, new challenges, and new dimensions of my self.

And to be clear, I sure as hell don’t always feel this gracious about my role. But today I do, and that is something worth writing about.

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