Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Guilt: The gift that keeps on giving

My daughter has a birthday coming up. I'm feeling guilty. I haven't seen her in several weeks I'll have to go out of town the weekend of her birthday party. Fortunately, I will get back in town in time to at least see her for a little bit on her birthday, but it won't be during the big group celebration.

I've often missed her birthday, but for many years I was able to spend the week before her birthday with her. Her birthday generally follows spring break. When I lived out of state, I would try to schedule at least one week of my vacation on her spring break.

Most years we would have some sort of birthday celebration as part of her vacation. It was one of the highlights of every year to spend spring break right with her before her birthday. It didn't make up for 49 or 50 weeks apart a year, but it was quality time. Our relationship was largely built on those intensive visits and ime together spent a week at a time, two or three times a year.

I few years ago our spring break routine was disrupted when I had to attend a wedding for my then-fiance's sister. At one point we had offered to take my daughter with us on the trip to an exotic beach locale, but she didn't really feel comfortable making such a big trip to be surrounded by strangers. So for the first time in many years I wasn't going to see my daughter for her spring vacation or birthday. The guilt was profound and I bought a pretty extravagant gift, diamond earrings, for her. Perhaps it was a bit much for a young girl just entering her teens, but it was at a period of my live where diamonds seemed to be a way to say I love you.

Now, I'm heading off to another wedding, this one for a dear friend, and am looking forward to seeing several other friends whom I haven't scene in almost two years. So, I'm pretty excited about all that. But I'm also feeling that profound guilt of again devoting my daughter's time to someone else to attend another wedding.

But there isn't likely to be an extravagant guilt gift this year. I just don't have the funds at this point in my life. And I feel guilty about that too.

There's plenty of guilt about the financial situation, which has also cut into visits with my daughter of late. My trips to see her, though she's an only easy drive away, have been limited. There just haven't been the funds to fill the gas tank, or pay for dinners out. My poor old rig is neglected too, and more than a thousand miles overdue for an oil change. But the vehicle is rapidly approaching the end of its useful life, and not nearly the source of guilt that the lost time with my daughter inflicts.

So, I need to figure out a special gift for her birthday. Not too expensive perhaps, but personal and unique. Not that I have a clue what that might be. What's the perfect gift to give your daughter to tell her you are sorry for all the lost years, birthdays and holidays?


3rdtimesacharm( 3T ) said...

You're there for her now G-Man. I know you know there were extenuating circumstances beyond some of your control. (Try not to beat yourself up over the past.) There is not a parent alive, who doesn't have regrets, and some residual guilt from their past mistakes. If you had been able to be there right from the begining, there would be these same feelings except in regard to the mistakes you made while there.

As far as a Birthday gift, give her something from yor heart. I gave my daughter a 12 dollar ring, but because I waited until everyone else was alseep, and made the moment intimate, special and our secret, she was so completely touched by it.

Young teens love sterling silver jewelry, which lucky for parents is relatively inexpensive. Look around, I'll bet you come up with something special.

I hope you're feeling more up than you have been. My thoughts and a few prayers have been with you.


Gene said...

Yeah. I'd not make too much of the past. Focus on the present and the future.

She's intelligent enough to see the circumstances.

mawgawrita said...

So what did you come up with for the birthday or did I just overlook the post? 3t is on track! For a girl they just want to know that YOU THINK ABOUT THEM, so a $12 ring (and silver IS the HOT item for teens these days) given after everyone was asleep is perfect! Very thoughtful.
I live with my children and still feel like their is not enough time, money, patients, energy, etc...we can beat ourselves up a lot over everything. I try to make it fun like on a night when I have no money, no energy - all of the above - I will have a pretend party. Like the scene in Persuit of Happyness where Will Smith pretends there are dinosaurs at the bus station and him and his son have to find a cave and end up sleeping in the restroom all night. I will say, "you're such good kids we're having a party!" and it dosn't matter what we do as long as I am with them. so now I am rambling...so sorry. :) always easier to give advise yadda, yadda, yadda...

The G-man said...

My bad! I went with what proved to be a popular suggestion, a silver bracelet. Works out for many reasons on many levels. I did not, however, go the inexpensive route, so guilt won out there and the desire to make this a special gift. It was one of those milestone birthdays, so it seemed like it needed a milestone gift. Besides, someone told me every girl dreams of getting a gift in a Tiffany blue box. Man those boxes ain't cheap!

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