It wasn’t a moment I was proud of. I was in a large department store with Sylvana looking for a gift for her to give on Father’s Day which, this year, coincided with my birthday.
There seemed to be no containing Sylvana that day. She was disappearing among the aisles; haphazardly pushing her “sister” (a doll almost as large as she is) around the store, almost knocking displays over; trying to climb into the shopping cart, even when it almost fell over on her more than once. Cajoling and bribery had no effect, and I was quickly losing patience.
“Mom, I’m bored,” she whined. Normally, those words wouldn’t affect me, but that day, they sent me over the edge.
“You’re bored?” I snapped. “Don’t you think I get bored taking you to soccer, to basketball, to swimming? Don’t you think I have other things to do with my time? Don’t you think I’d rather be spending time shopping for my birthday rather than buying something for you to give?”
I’ll never forget the look of utter devastation on her face, as tears filled her eyes and rolled down her cheeks. “But I already made you a gift, and one for papi. I spent three days making them,” she whispered.
I’m the worst mother in the world, I thought to myself, holding back the tears. I hugged her and apologized over and again, trying to soothe the pain I inflicted. I knelt before her and said, “The gift you have made us is more valuable than anything I can buy here. I’m so sorry. Let’s go home.”
No matter how I tried to forgive myself, to tell myself it was only one incident, that I was only human and made a mistake, I couldn’t shake the image of Sylvana’s distraught face and the tears I had caused. By the time we got home, I felt as if a cloud had settled over my head.
As soon as I walked in the door, Alberto, my husband, came over and without a word, gave me a big hug. How could he know what just happened, I wondered.
When he released me, he placed on my shirt, just above the heart, a blue paper ribbon with the words: Who I am makes a difference.
I just started bawling. He was surprised by my reaction, but I didn’t feel like talking about what happened. He told me to check my email to understand the meaning of the ribbon. You can learn more about this great idea at www.acknowledgmentmovie.com.
But I still didn’t feel appeased. Scrolling down my Inbox, I saw a birthday message from author Mike Dooley which reiterated almost word for word the same message from Alberto. And later, birthday wishes from friends reminding me of the same.
I felt as if the whole Universe conspired to lift me that day, to remind me that sometimes one action does not define who we are. Long ago, I placed myself on a path towards mastery of the Self and its dramas, and of living from a place of love, peace and acceptance. Like all great journeys, at times the smallest misadventure takes us off the path. But all who journey eventually pick themselves up, a little wiser for the experience, dust themselves off and continue towards their destination. We never stop walking. We never stop believing in the journey and the difference it’s making in our lives and in the lives of others.
And Sylvana’s gift to me on my birthday? A six-page illustrated tale she wrote entitled: “The Six Things I Love About My Mom”.
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