The kids used their birthday budgets from this year for their Christmas presents last year which meant Vivaan didn’t get a birthday present on Sunday. A part of me felt sad that here I was “not” giving my son a birthday present (even though he is getting enough Legos from other humans in his life). And a part of me felt good about modeling to him that love doesn’t “always” have to be expressed through store-bought stuff, the value of budgets, and dealing with disappointment, and it inspired me to get creative on what could be one of the special moments this year.

The kids don’t fully understand my work blogging and writing but they know that I write stories so I told Vivaan that I will be writing a story for you on your birthday. He told me, he wants it printed and it needs to be a surprise (sometimes, genes are a real thing!) so here it is. This went into canva, was designed and printed. He gets it at his “birthday party” this weekend as we are a family that loves to do birthdays for more than a day. I didn’t plan for this earlier but I am thinking of getting it printed on better paper and hopefully will last in the memorabilia box. 

I am generally not comfortable giving advice, I like sharing stories and ideas, asking questions, and reflecting back on my own journey but telling someone what to do isn’t always my cup of tea but I know that sometimes I need to do this part of my job as a parent and here is my humble attempt to share some of my life and leadership lessons with Vivaan (and maybe some other little humans in the world too!). I write for adults so this one is a bit outside my wheelhouse but I will try! I will report back how it all went and if he thinks I am cool or boring or something else for this “story.”

  1. Kindness Matters – It is one of the most beautiful gifts that we can give to ourselves and others (especially little brother!). Sometimes, we can be mean and we have all had those moments but there is something deeply human when we can apologize, repair and choose kindness and love again.
  2. Do What Makes You Come Alive – I know there are times we pick an activity or a class because everyone else is doing it and sometimes it is fun to try new things with our friends and is a great way to discover new adventures. But, always make room and spend a good chunk of your time doing what you love and not because others expect you to do some things. (This doesn’t mean you don’t need to clean your room or pick up your plate after dinner!) 
  3. We Can Do Hard Things – Yes, you can eye roll as I say this often when you want to give up but there is something really joyful about getting better at what you find meaningful, about not giving up and learning. It’s been beautiful to watch your love of Legos blossom over the years and your grit to explore, tinker, and trust yourself through this process is beautiful. (Thank you Glennon Doyle for this tagline). For all you adults, i absolutely LOVE her podcast and highly recommend it..
  4. Relationships Matter – It’s the people in our lives that make life worthwhile. It takes effort (and kindness) to be a good friend and a good older brother. It takes empathy (think about how the other person may feel if you don’t include him in your lego play before you say no) and boundaries (sometimes we say no politely) to be a good companion to others. 
  5. Reading Counts – I love our time together reading and I hope this ritual continues for years to come. A book is a beautiful friend and a great way to learn more about yourself and the world around you. I hope you continue to find comfort and joy in a book. And yes, I love when you sit next to me and laugh out loud when you read. I think I need to change my genre of reading and read more of what you do! – (Thank you Lakeview Elementary for this program at school that is now becoming the title of this bullet) 
  6. Consent Is Critical – When we roughhouse and play with other people that includes their bodies (including your mom!), consent is critical. It is a sign of respect and we don’t touch, hit or hurt anyone’s bodies unless we have consent from them that they want to be “punched in the eye.” (Punching in the eye is never cool though I know Saveer uses that phrase more than you do!) 
  7. Quiet Time – I love how much you honor your body and mind’s need for quiet and solo time. I hope you can always find that comfort in yourself and feel brave to ask for what you need (I am not talking about more ice cream or video games here!)
  8. Giving Matters – I know it is hard to donate a lego set during the holidays but including others in our circle of love is really important. We have so much to be grateful for and share with others in small and big ways. It is not always fun in the moment but it’s a skill that we can continue building together. 

And yet, I hope you know that my biggest commitment to you is my practice of unconditional love. My biggest hope as a mother is that I choose to love you no matter what happens on the outside. I hope I can give you the space and tools for you to shine and always see the goodness that exists inside of you. And that this is a practice for me too because I make mistakes, I lose my ground (and sometimes I raise my voice) but I try to come back to all that I said above, especially kindness. 

Some nights when I disappear into my room to meditate or do yoga, know that it is my humble attempt to connect back to myself so I can love you even more deeply.

Happy Birthday, Vivaan, I am grateful I get to be your mom. 

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