We were getting ready for Valentine's Day on one of our many snow days this winter. My youngest child has overachiever tendencies, and so she had already gone gung-ho in getting her seed packets stapled to the cards on the day I let her at that stapler.
I was proud of the cards I had come up with for my son. Minecraft is the obsession du jour, so I printed out cards that simply said "Be Mine" with a picture from the game. Now, of course, these days a solitary piece of paper is not enough to show your classmates you have fake feelings for them one day of the year. With allergies and diet restrictions all over the place, my brain gets taxed coming up with ideas for the little extra to be included. It had nothing to do with the Minecraft theme, but whatever - I picked up an easy bag of heart-shaped lollipops.
As my son opened the lollipop bag, he noticed there were actually generic little "To:/ From:" cards in the bag with the candy. He had a little laugh, since he had already put names on all the Minecraft cards. But then he took one pop and attached it to a card. He didn't write my name or do anything other than put a pop in the assigned spot on the card. Then he looked at me and said something to the effect of, "But I'm so glad you made me cards that I liked instead."
The compliment slid right off my back. Of course, I did something for my son that would make him happy. It was pretty easy and cost nothing.
To him, it was apparently something else. To him, it was another brick solidifying our relationship. I knew what he liked and didn't think twice about doing it. That meant a lot to him. My boy isn't a typical boy, at least not in this day and age. He has somehow managed to hold on to a sweet innocence that could easily be muddied with every step through the school hallways. At 9 years old, he still holds my hand and smiles at me.
He handed me the card and said, "Mom - don't ever throw it away."
The lollipop was sweet, but his commission has taken a hold of me. Its importance has strengthened since he issued it.
Ever. That's the word sticking with me.
I'll be honest. I get a lot of papers and pictures and crafts from the kids. They don't ALL make it into the box of things I keep each year. I have come to the realization that sometimes I am the convenient excuse for the kids to not throw away their crafts.
"Here, Mom. It's for you," actually translates to:
"Mom, I don't know what to do with this thing the teacher had the whole class make, but I know you treasure every single thing I do, so here's a reminder that I want to make you proud."
In other dialects, it could also mean:
"If I go near the trash can with this, you might ask me to take the trash out, so I'm going to play cute and make you do it."
How do I know these are accurate? Because seldom am I asked, "Mom, what did you do with my picture?"
This lollipop was different. The word "ever" caught my attention. That word said, "I mean it, and I'm going to check up on you."
OK, son. It's just a lollipop. I can hang onto it. It won't get in the way.
It sits next to my computer station in the kitchen. The kitchen is one of my busiest places. I spend a lot of time there, cooking, cleaning, and getting life into a more organized chaos. (My writing is more concentrated and done in the living room, so my kitchen work station is a place I only visit for a short time, but I do it frequently.)
Truly, I don't think I could have put that lollipop in any better place.
The lollipop sits right by my medicine dispenser. I see it when I need to take my pills, and I suddenly remember why it's important for me to stay at my best. I'm not doing it just for me.
At night, I'll stop by the area to pick up a drying towel after I wash the dishes- the dishes no one else volunteered to do, but I do without a second thought. Everyone else in the family comes along as I am washing and dump more dishes in the sink. No "thank you's" or any other kind of acknowledgment from the children. If I'm lucky, the water won't splash up into my face.
Then, I wipe my hands dry. I see the pop, and it says, "I might not tell you I care that you do the dishes, but I tell you that I care about you."
Maybe on another day, I'll prop the computer on the counter with the Pinterest recipe I need to use to cook dinner.
Dinner is a hard time for my family and me. Tastes are so specific and varied, that it's all but impossible to come up with a meal everyone will eat. I'll think I've found one, and it will be met with resounding complaints that make me want to scream. I try so hard! And no one cares. To them, I am still the evil mom forcing disgusting nutrients into their bodies. How dare I take claim on their lives in such a way?
But the lollipop is there. It has been there through all the complaints. Even if one of the complainers is my son, his sentiment remains on the counter. His words say, "I'm mad," but his lollipop says, "Don't give up on me. Ever."
In the kitchen, we keep the containers that hold everyone's shoes. My son's box is right next to my work station. In the box are the basketball sneakers that my son dreads putting on. Two months ago, we bought him good shoes for the season. He tried them on and they were fine. I think it was a day later that he put them on and they were a size too small.
Day by day, those feet will grow until they are bigger than mine.
But that lollipop will never change. It won't grow up, it won't move out. It won't need bigger shoes or money to go out with friends. It won't get a driver's license, it won't go to college.
The lollipop will always stand in its spot by my work station saying, "I love you, Mom."
Pieces might crumble from it if it gets knocked around, but it won't be thrown away. Never.
That lollipop will stay on my counter forever.
One day, my boy won't let me hold his hand. He'll be holding someone else's hand. I'll have to hold the lollipop instead. I hope he comes home one day, maybe with his wife and kids, and asks me, "Mom, do you remember the lollipop I gave you when I was in 4th grade?"
Because I will have it. I'll get it out and show him that I never threw it out.
He will smile again because we both know that the sentiment still stands true. My boy loves me.
Passion Under Grace,