Gratitude and generosity, even when it pinches…

rose magnoliasOh I really got to see myself this weekend.

And I’m going to tell you the absolute truth about this, despite the monkeys squeaking and squealing in my head about how this will mess with my look-good.

This story is about my daughter Rose, who turns 27 next week, and dropped out of college a few years ago. Her path in life, so far, looks a lot more like mine did in my 20s (and 30s!), and a lot less than what I had in mind for her. I learned a long time ago that my daughter has her own path, her own loving higher power, and that her loving higher power’s name is not Sue!

First the good news:

  • RosemagsI have an good, loving, relationship with my daughter today. I was very very late to the party when it came to learning how to be a good, kind, consistent mother, and by some miracle and a hefty amount of grace, the damage that I did during Rose’s early years wasn’t permanent.
  • I have grown into a woman who is loving. I have learned how to be generous, how to be grateful, and how to let the important people in my life (Rose would be #1 on that list) know how much they mean to me. This causes healing. I am here to tell you that this causes powerful heart-to-heart healing.
  • Rose calls me for advice, she calls me because I make her feel better, she actually listens to my advice (this is instead of telling me, as she used to, for years, “You don’t understand, Mom, things are different than they were when you were a kid,” and then hanging up on me in anger. The pivot moment for this happened the day I closed the checkbook. Until that day, 9 out of 10 phone calls from Rose were because she wanted money. That doesn’t happen any more.

I bought my daughter a car!

I’ve had money set aside for my daughter. I put $5,000 of the inheritance I got from my parents into an account for her, hoping she would want to go back to school, and happy to be able to help her do that. She has shown increasing maturity when we’ve talked about it. As her car was dying, I kept offering to use some of that money to help her fix the car, and she kept telling me to keep it safe, that she would take care of the car herself.

Her car finally died, and living in suburban, no-public-trans, Folsom, California as she does, she’s been hampered in her efforts to transfer to a different store (she’s a Starbucks barista), or get a better job.

After a few conversations with her, she got very clear that while she does want to go back to school, she wants to do that on her own dime, and that she really really needs a car. Her father and I (we haven’t lived together in 20 years, and we get along very well around all things Rose) decided we’d go halfsies on a new used car for her.

It all went down Friday. We drove out to the used car guy my friends recommended, and she fell in love with a beautiful 2003 Infiniti, which is the car she now owns.

Here’s where it pinches

I have been driven temporarily insane by the fact that I bought Rose a car that’s one year newer, a bit fancier (I have a Camry), and has 20,000 less miles than mine does! I nearly didn’t do it; it was a struggle. I nearly made her take my car so I could have the Infiniti for myself. In fact, if the Infiniti had heated seats (a feature I have loved for the entire time I’ve owned this car, and I bought it new), I think I would have done it.

The pinch? Something like this: I often say that I wasn’t in the room when they passed out the life-skills manual, or maybe I just up and left the room. I’ve been in Remedial Life Skills 101 for nearly 22 years now, since I got clean and sober. And the chapter about unselfishness, about selfless parenting? Well, I don’t know that I even got to that chapter or thought about the concept, until last Friday. Instead, I’ve been processing, and slowly releasing thoughts like:

  • My daughter has a nicer ride than I do, one that I bought her; what kind of loser am I
  • I should have made her buy a less fancy car (ugh! there’s something dark twisted up in here about it being a bad thing to make her so happy, and that she’ll learn more if the ended the transaction disappointed)
  • I shoulda kept the Infiniti for myself!

And here’s how gratitude saves my ass (again and again and again)

Access to gratitude saves my ass, one more time!

  • I am grateful that Rose has wheels, a reliable and good-looking ride
  • I am grateful that she is so grateful for the help her dad and I are giving her
  • I am grateful to be in a position to help my kid
  • I am grateful for the beautiful afternoon we spent together, feeling our way through making this happen
  • I am grateful that Rose brought her insurance papers with her, and let me teach her a bit about navigating the ins and outs of employee benefits
  • I am grateful that I have friends—and my siser—who listen to me with patience and love as I move through the potholes of my ego
  • I am grateful for my daughter’s developing ethics. She wants to pay us back whatever money she gets from the sale of her defunct car
  • I am grateful that I am able to tell her that she doesn’t have to do that; the Infiniti is a gift. And also to tell her that if she wants to anyway, I will put the money in savings for her
  • I am grateful to know what a miracle this is, from start to finish

And one more gratitude

  • I am grateful for a beautiful drive through the hills and walk through the Tilden Park Botanic Gardens on a gorgeous day.









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I’m a barely tamed hippie, sage, seasoned, sarcastic (not all the time any more, but still). I’m a mom, a daughter, sister, a neighbor, and a friend. I’ve been on this meandering journey — like you, probably — seeking a better connection to and experience of peace, harmony, and fun in every bit of life. I’m single, quite good at it, and mostly love it. I’m here for the conversations I get to have with you, which these days center on exploring the mystery and beauty of life, work, health, aging, and creative expression. Want to know a little more about me and my journey? Explore the site. Read the blog. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Join the conversation!

  1. Sue, thank you for being so honest even at the expense of showing yourself as an imperfect human and mother! I totally get this – although I’m not a mother, I often buy presents for people that I then want to keep for myself 🙂 Sometimes I even do, and I’m so bad at keeping secrets that I usually tell them exactly what I did. The thing is you put your daughter first even though it was difficult and that to me says it all. Gorgeous photos by the way!

    • Leanne, putting others first, that’s what it’s called! And yes it comes so unnaturally to me. Difficult as it is, I’m so grateful for being willing to learn in this way.
      Love and light,

      • @MagnoliasWest Jumping in here, you know…yes, there’s something to be said for putting others first, but there’s also a lot to be said for putting yourself first in the right situations. To me, this isn’t about you not knowing how to do the former. It’s about finding the balance between the times when you need to be your first priority, and the times when you get in the way of someone else being your first priority. Does that make sense? You clearly know how to put others first, given the ways you’ve grown in your relationship with Rose. Maybe the part of you that needs to come first needs a little attention, too, especially now that it’s feeling left out?
        Just a question…do with it what you like, including nothing if that’s best for you. Regardless, I agree that this is a really brave post, and I’m glad you shared with us!

  2. Sharing ourselves, the whole real underbelly is what brings us together. As intimate friends, or as a large community. The illusion that everyone else has their shit together better than we keeps us divided.
    This from another who is still trying to figure out how to show up better and better in life, and especially in the parenting department.
    Big hugs. Your posts rock.

    • @ChristiJarland1 Thank you so much, Christi. It was so interesting to watch myself process these feelings over the weekend, and hear that quiet inner voice whispering, as I watched myself, that once again there’s something to offer my community in this too!
      Funny what being of service looks like, sometimes.

  3. Hi Sue: I find your honesty so refreshing. I know I spend more on my son’s shoes than on my own. After being a single parent for many years and living in scarcity thinking, I give thanks that my life is so abundant that I can share the love. Sharing the love isn’t always great in the moment, as you say the “shoe pinches or we get whiplash from looking back at what we gave” but your post shows us that loving ourselves through the pinch helps us step back and see the unending and deeply nourishing impact of gratitude and generosity. And you are learning so well, as your photos represent, we reap what we sow and you are so sowing gratitude for your precious daughter and you are precious to her and us, indeed xo Tanya

  4. Oh giddy aunt Sue! Raw, organic and truthful and I have to say I so so s so feel your pain. I think you’re not alone when it comes to questioning our parenting skills and even our relationship with the world at large. I know I have big skeletons in the closet and I work every day to be the best I can be now. I am so proud of you for being out there and open. You rock!!!!!

  5. Oh how beautiful Sue!  I love that you had the courage to say this OUT LOUD!  It’s part of being human to be imperfect, and to feel things we ‘shouldn’t’.  So few people share this (although all of them feel it!) that we end up feeling alone…but we’re not alone in it, it’s normal.  So thank you for being a pioneer for truth and the realness of the human condition!  And for sharing that gratitude can pull you out of it when you’re feeling less than perfectly generous and giving!  xx

    • @donnaonthebeach Donna, thanks so much! To be honest, my life completely turned around when I started writing daily gratitude lists ten years ago. What a powerful practice, finding something—anything!—for which you can be grateful no matter what.
      Thanks for taking the time to share the love.
      Love and lights,

  6. blessings to you, Sue….ah, gratitude….the antidote for our ego, fear and self-centeredness…we are fortunate when we are able to be grateful for merely one thing each day….and typically there are many more than one thing for which to be grateful.

  7. Maureen, thanks for taking the time to comment. So many things! Today I’m grateful for interacting with you, and for finding out what’s going on with my tooth (!), and for my beautiful clients, and for getting close to the launch of my new website, and….!
    Love and light,

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