I’m going to have to have a talk with my daughter. Probably should’ve had it a while ago. I’m a terrible judge of these things.
She JUST realized the other night I’ve receive less than half a dozen birthday presents from her dad in 28 years together. She knows he does nothing for Valentines. He’s given me flowers twice that I can remember and she wasn’t alive yet for either time.
Here’s the deal, I don’t want her to feel that’s typical or that it would be selfish of her to want more than that. She mentioned the other night that she would have liked a couple of specific things to happen for her birthday but didn’t ask because it felt selfish. Yeah. We had a talk about that not being the reality, that she SHOULD have asked and that wanting something special to happen for your birthday is NOT selfish.
It hurt so badly to see she felt that way and I’ve been looking at myself and the way I approach my relationships and seeing how much I may have contributed to this sad perception of hers. I claimed for years these things were no big deal to me- birthday presents, party atmosphere in the celebration, romantic gestures, date nights... things that others around me consider pretty baseline.
When I met him, I had never been romanced. Mom had always tried to make my birthday a party unit no one ever came to the parties (8th grade being an exception because mom went with a “make your own pizza” theme). When I was with him, he gave me presents from time to time, a bouquet of flowers on closing night of the show we were both doing, a beautiful opal necklace- the one and only Valentine’s present I ever received...
I moved out at 18...while my mom was at work... I left her a note. It was rough for a while but he felt responsible and we lived together. Then I was pregnant. Then we were married. Our budget never had a non-tight moment. The one other time he bought me flowers was when he and a colleague were on the way back from a distant meeting and were stuck in some serious traffic. His colleague, who had been married 25 years, pulled over and told him to buy me flowers from the little road side booth.
Where am I going with all this? I don’t want my daughter to feel selfish for wanting these types of gestures just because I act like it’s not important. I don’t want her making the mistake I did and not saying it mattered to my heart when it did. ON THE OTHER HAND, I need to make it clear to her that the reason I still don’t is that, after 28 years, it feels wrong to ask him to become a person he never really was and never claimed to be. I made the bed I lie in. I just want her to realize she needs to be more comfortable saying what matters to her and not settling just because I did.
No, I have no idea how or when I’m going to broach this subject. I just feel like I need to. Soon. She just turned 16 the other day.