My mantra/meditation for today was: Today I will give with compassion.
I sort of started this last night with the gift of a foot rub for my husband. His foot had been hurting him all day on our outing with the children on Saturday. He gamely carried one or other of the boys most of the day, along with our diaper bag, while I pushed the other boy in our stroller. He started giving me nightly foot rubs when my ankles swelled up in my pregnancy with our first son. He has continued this for four years. He never complains. I just have to sit down and put my foot in his lap, and he begins. It's awesome. I almost never give him one. Part of it is that I think feet are somewhat... gross. It's just a thing I have a hard time getting past. And the other is that he just almost never asks for one. So, last night, I got out my lotion, poured him a glass of single malt, and sat on the sofa and instead of putting my foot in his lap, I pulled his into mine. I gave him a proper, long foot massage. He was very, very happy and said his feet feel better.
So, on to today. I figured with such appreciation from him last night, this would be a cinch! I wasn't even really planning on giving him anything last night. I just knew his feet hurt. So how nice would this be today to actually plan gifts and then give them! Uh, well... not what I expected.
At lunch time, one of us will usually make lunch for the kids and ourself, and the other will make his or her own sandwich or whatever. It's just always busy and chaotic and easier. But today, while my husband was deep into paying our bills and in a terrible, terrible mood, I thought, "I know! I'll make him a sandwich while I'm making our lunch. And I won't even bargain over it with him. No, 'I'll do this if you do that later.' Just do it." So I made the kids' lunches, then mine, and then his favorite sandwich. I set the table, and then sweetly called to him, "Honey! Your lunch is ready!" ... SILENCE. "Sweetheart! I made lunch for you!" "Oh, sorry. I should have told you - I already ate." MmmK! Into the fridge it goes. At least his lunch is made for tomorrow. SIGH.
I had a voice lesson tonight. Except I have the flu and have had for five days. Sick, sick, sick. Not contagious anymore, but no real voice to speak of. I tried to get another student to take my lesson because there seemed little point in me trying to squeak out arias, especially since I sing some of the hardest stuff written - not easy for anyone at their best, much less on this amount of phlegm and swelling. No takers for my time, though. But while online trying to see if anyone wanted my slot, I noticed my voice teacher posted yesterday that he was afraid he was coming down with something. Aha! My next gift. (I know, I already gave something today, but it didn't feel like it counted because it wasn't received.) I decided that I would stop at Starbucks a block from the studio and buy my teacher a cup of hot orange tea. I love hot things when I'm sick, especially hot drinks. They always make me feel better. And this poor guy had been teaching since 10 AM without a break. It was now 6 PM. If any sickie needed a little hot tea, it was him.
I waited patiently outside the door while he finished up with his previous student. I knocked at precisely 6. "Just a moment!" he shouted. I waited. When the door opened, things seemed tense. I said hello to his previous student, and then smiled and handed him the cup. "I saw online that you might be feeling sick. Thought you'd like a little tea." "Thanks." He took the cup and sipped. And then dove into my lesson. MmmmK! At least there was a thank you, but it wasn't exactly exuberant. It seemed perfunctory. My sails deflated for the second time today.
And then I thought about my affirmation for today. Giving with compassion. And that's what I had done. It's my job to give, not to judge the reaction of the recipient. A gift is free - free of standards, free of the need for reciprocation, free of the need for even gratitude. I cannot both give and receive simultaneously. I have no idea how the sandwich made my husband feel or the tea made my teacher feel. Maybe great, maybe not. But it doesn't matter, really. I gave both gifts to them because they were in a dark place in that particular moment, and I wanted to brighten their day a little, to make them feel better. And because I gave to them, I love them a little more.
My one year old was playing with a little city bus this evening while I was nursing him to sleep. It was a Christmas gift to my three year old when he was one. When he noticed his brother playing it, his first instinct was to take it away. "WHAT IS HE PLAYING WITH???!!! WHICH BUS???!!! MY BUS???!!! I'M GOING TO TAKE IT FROM HIM!!!" I'm not sure how, but I managed to get him to share it for a few more minutes as my baby started to doze off. When he was finally asleep, I took it to his brother. His eyes lit up when I handed it to him as I pulled him into my lap. "Ewan," I told him, "I am very proud of you. You shared your very precious bus with your brother because it made him happy to play with it. You shared it because you love him, and by sharing it, you learned to love him even more. And see? You got your bus back. Every time you share and give, you will be blessed. I'm proud of you." And we hugged.
And that hug from my gorgeous boy was the gift of the universe to me.
Good night, everyone!