05/13/2013 12:09 pm ET Updated Jul 13, 2013

The Anonymous Gift

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In many traditions, it is said the anonymous gift is the highest level of giving. Essential to its nature is its anonymity as it assures no strings are attached.
It is a gift pure and simple.
It is meant to be impossible to do anything but accept.

Mothers spend many years giving in this way.
Nobody really notices. We don't remember.
Much of it is done before remembering even sets in.
Besides, we're not asked to remember.
It's anonymous, and that's the point.

It's simply in the job description:
drive to every lesson
attend every concert
wipe every bottom
flush every toilet
wake up at every sound
feed at every call
buy the clothes
wash the clothes
buy the food
cook the food
talk to the teachers
admire the art work
nurture play dates
help them learn to use their words
teach them everything you know
hold them when they cry
be the bad cop and the good cop
remember you are good for taking them to the doctor to get a shot
realize you are breeding mixed feelings towards you
do it anyway
love them anyway
tolerate the joy and pain of their growing up and leaving home
recall you were in your forties once too
know deeply you are giving the anonymous gifts
and nobody will remember
and that's the way it is
and that is really ok
because letting go is better than holding on too tightly
and it doesn't work to do that anyway.

Know loving comes in these anonymous forms
and loving is its own reward.

Nobody remembers
nobody sees.

It's anonymous work
it's done because it's done
because we care
and because we wish to fulfill those needs as long as they are needed.
And we really want to be needed.

They are very small feasts.
And they happen all the time.

Later in life, we hope that these anonymous gifts will settle in the hearts of our children so they will make their contributions to the world and remember us on Mother's Day and beyond.
We can't get back what we give and we shouldn't expect to, though sometimes we do, frail things that we are.

Then come the grandchildren for whom we model another layer of loving and anonymity. Once again, we have the opportunity to give the anonymous gifts.
And it is in the giving that we receive the fullness of living.

For the anonymous gift gives it all back in kind. Like hand-cut wood, it warms us twice. Once when we cut it, once when we burn it.
Once in the giving. Once in it being received.

That's about it.
And that must be enough.