I have said many times that I’m most exceptional at being average. I’m not artistic, brilliant, beautiful, athletic, comedic or creative. I’d always wanted to be one of those people who were born to do something, who literally glowed with some God given talent. Alas, it was not to be.
Over time, I realized that I wanted my legacy to be as a devoted wife, mother, and friend. Divorce threw me off track for the devoted wife award, but I’m doing better with this marriage. Never give up! My children all went through points in their life when they loathed me, so I’ve never been overly confident that I was going to be a maternal legend either. As for friends, well, I’m not what would be described as “social”, so it’s a relationship I have with only a small handful of people. To top it off, I get busy and tend to not stay in touch with them for stretches of time. To sum it up, I’m…..average on good days, and slightly below the rest of the time.
So it’s especially sweet when I get a reminder that despite my lack of super powers, I have raised three exceptional children. I had one of those reminders this week, and it makes me swell up with pride that I had something to do with making these people who they are.
My oldest daughter has had a rough year, and that’s an understatement. With 4 children in a single paycheck home, for years she’s had to pinch pennies and do without things that most consider necessities. In July, her husband was in a devastating auto accident. That left her with 4 children, huge medical bills (the other motorist was significantly under-insured), a wheelchair bound husband, a totaled car, and no paychecks. Friends and family have tried to assist when possible, but there’s just no way to make it easy.
Last week, they were able to get a replacement vehicle with the insurance funds. Thank heavens, that was one less thing to worry about. I would have breathed a sigh of relief over having 2 cars again, but she didn’t. After 6 months of being a one-car family, she realized they could do without a second vehicle. Rather than sell it (because there’s still no paycheck, her husband is likely out of work for at least a few more months), she cleaned it up and gave it to someone in the family that didn’t have a vehicle. This woman, who doesn’t have 2 nickels to rub together, gave away a perfectly functional, valuable vehicle. She did it happily, and without any expectation of anything in return.
It was a reminder to me that all 3 of my children are “that type”: generous, sometimes to a fault, thoughtful, and genuinely kind. They do their good deeds quietly, anonymously when possible, without fanfare or notice. They’re also sarcastic, in-your-face tough love givers, and occasionally knuckleheads. The sarcastic knucklehead parts most definitely come from me.
I have witnessed my youngest daughter give someone else her last dollar, literally. She has skipped meals to feed other people’s children. She’s given away furniture, jewelry, clothes….pretty much anything she has, if someone else needs it, she jumps at the chance to provide it. Children are drawn to her like she’s a female Santa Claus; she just connects with them and they love her. She has spent the majority of her New Year’s Eves with a houseful of kids so that her friends can go out and celebrate.
My son, who works his second full time job (concurrently) as a server in a restaurant, has worked many shifts with no money to show for it. However, on the nights that have been good to him, but not to someone else, he regularly slips some money to the person who had the cheap tables that night. He pays for cabs for bar customers that have had one too many. He picks up shifts for others when they have sick children at home, even if that means he’ll be working 15 days straight without a day off. He is never too busy to help anyone who needs a ride home, help moving, or taking care of his Mom’s dogs when she’s away. With all that, he still remembers to bring his wife flowers or surprise her with a night out whenever he can.
I’ve finally found the one thing that has made me exceptional: I gave birth to three of the most incredible people I know. Not such a shabby legacy after all.