I was a smidge late for Valentines Day at my house. My family woke to the altared space of peanut M&M decor instead of our usual treasure hunt for hearts. That’s OK. It made for a nice moment when everyone gathered after school and I had finally finished that last fabric heart.
The treasure hunt took all of about 8 minutes. They read the letters I’d written about the new hearts I made. My daughter got teary about her second grade dress turned fabric ornament to remind her that no matter how very much she accomplishes outside our home after she graduates this year, to me she’ll always be my little girl.
I was a nervous about the letter I’d written for my son. We’ve had some vehement differences of opinion this year. He’s quite the hunter and I’m well… not. I made him a heart that celebrated our differences and pointed to our laughter instead of rancor. It’s frightening to call attention to where I differ from someone I love so much. Thankfully, he seemed to understand.
My husband’s heart was made to commemorate the year our union tipped the see-saw balance of marital bliss. Now the flowers in the snow have a permanent reminder.
Everyone hunted for their remaining hearts and there was happiness and cheer and that cozy family feeling. This has been a great year for the Family Tree. But it hasn’t always been so. Many years I felt I was the only one who valued the traditions held by the branches in that vase.
That’s probably because I was. It was my vision and my dream. I’m the one who came into this family yearning for connection. My husband craves adventure and my children have grown up here. They know nothing else. I’m the one trying to fix that little empty spot in my belly.
It took me a long, long time to realize the Family Tree was for me. I thought I was giving all these gifts to the people who populate my home. I thought I was the World’s Greatest Mommy and I wanted gold stars anointing my head to prove it. I wanted attention. I wanted recognition.
But the truth was and is the person who wanted this family was me. The Family Tree is my gift to me, and while there are surely others who benefit, I planted this little tree to grow roots in my soul. Roots that would steady the wide branches I longed to bloom above my head.
I was a martyr many, many years, harrumphing about the lack of attention I got for the Beauty I brought into this home before I paused and opened my own eyes. I could see that Beauty. I could give attention to myself.
The second I looked and saw was the same second I had the family I longed for. They had been there all along. They were simply waiting for me to love me. I was the keeper of my own gold stars.
What do you give to others that is really a gift hiding in wait for yourself to open? What gold stars do you withhold from yourself that you could freely give… right now, today? What love was/is waiting for you in this gray month of February?