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Big Love

Every now and again, my mother stuns me by saying something like “You’re nicer than I am, you and your Bubbie both. It must have skipped a generation.” I think once she even told me that I am a better person. These types of comments embarrass me hugely and make me squirm, because I think my mom is pretty terrific and I have no idea how to respond without suggesting otherwise.

Now that I’m a mom and Simon is getting older, I’m starting to understand that my mother isn’t denigrating herself as much as she’s just making observations that please her. She could just as easily note that my voice isn’t as good as hers used to be,  that I’m far messier and more disorganized than she is, and that I’m comparatively awful in math. Possibly lazier as well. Thankfully, she doesn’t. Instead, she’s been very open about where she feels she can learn from me.

It’s quite romantic when you think about it. In fact, it was the Romantic poet William Wordsworth who famously wrote “The child is father of the Man.”

It’s with this in mind that I state flatly that Simon is more generous than I am. He’s always found sharing easier than I did as a child, and it’s starting to extend past that when we go shopping. Yesterday we went to Target to pick up birthday presents for two of his classmates that are having parties in the next two weeks. Caroline turns five on May 1. Her invitation says “no presents” but she’s one of Simon’s best friends so I decided to shop anyway and drop off the gift a day or so before her party. The other girl, L–, is having a party the next weekend. After we chose presents for both girls, Simon looked up at me and said, “What about N–?”

Without thinking, I looked at him and said, “Honey, N– isn’t having a party. We don’t need to get her a gift.” Without missing a beat, Simon looked up at me and argued his case. “But it’s still her birthday. I think we need to get her something, too. N– likes to play with kitchen toys. Let’s get her something like that.”

Honestly, he pleased and shamed me in equal measure. N–‘s parents are Sudanese refugees struggling to make ends meet until her father finishes a very marketable degree. Of course she’s not having a class party. It’s not part of their culture, and even if it were it would be a financial strain. But Simon doesn’t see birthday presents as something that correlates with parties, he really likes N–, and there was no way he was going to shop for two out of three friends.

Nor should I have considered it. So today or tomorrow I’m heading back to Target to buy N–‘s present. While I’m there, I’ll be picking up an outfit for Anyieth. The latter is the result of a earlier shopping trip when I picked up a few outfits for Agotich.  Simon approved all the choices (he had even pre-selected a few of them), but didn’t understand why I shopped for just the one girl. “Honey, Agotich needs the clothes and goes to school. Anyieth doesn’t go to school and can wear Agotich’s old things.” He fixed me with the same blank look I got during birthday-present-gate yesterday and laid down the law. “Anyieth would like something new, too. We have to get her at least one thing. I think she’d like that shirt with the kitten on it. You can get her that one I think.”

What I said was, “Simon, you have a generous heart. I will.” What I thought was, “Simon, you’re more generous than your mama.” It’s humbling, but I’ve decided to learn from him and run with it.


2 Responses to “Big Love”

  1. goldsteinrita says:

    You have a lot of insight. Please do not feel embarrassed. It makes me feel good to let you know the things that I particularly admire about you.

  2. Amanda says:

    Moms rock, period. I know mine does.

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