Last week, Henry and I were driving into town. The library and grocery store were on our agenda.
As I drove, I noticed Henry was struggling with something in the back seat. He was holding a tennis ball, and he had his finger stuck into a tiny slit in the ball. Typical of a seven-year-old, Henry explained that he wanted to see if a quarter would fit into that sliver of a hole. Sure enough it did, and the coin was now rattling around, stuck inside. And Henry was desperately trying to fish it back out (thinking about the giant gumball he was planning to buy at the store).
"Mom, I can't get this quarter out."
"Do you have anything that would help you get it out?" I asked.
Henry thought for a second and said, "I know - tweezers would work. Or maybe chopsticks. Yeah - chopsticks. Those would pull it right out."
Amused that Henry suggested chopsticks as a solution, I jokingly said, "Great idea Hen. I'll just reach into my back pocket and give you my handy-dandy traveling chopsticks right now."
I could see Henry in the rear view mirror, not even looking up, but extending his hand to reach out for my imaginary chopsticks.
"Henry" I said laughing, "I'm kidding. I don't have chopsticks in my back pocket. What on earth made you think that I would?"
And without missing a beat, I saw Henry look straight at me, completely serious....
He simply said "Because I needed them."
In that moment, in that one brief sentence, Henry completely summed up his expectations for me. He needed something, and so I [the mama] should be able to produce. To him, it wasn't complicated or comical. It was my job.
I have to admit, I was a bit flabbergasted. And quite humbled too. Not only was I clearly reminded of the very high expectations my dear one has for me, but it was all so matter-of-fact. Most days, I think I do a pretty good job of being a mom. And, like moms do, I go out on a limb for my kids everyday. I put their needs first everyday. I make sure they have all they need to succeed in this life, everyday. And I throw some pretty fabulous birthday parties. But when it really comes down to it, Henry was spot on - - it's my job. I am the mom.
This is exactly what I signed up for.
Sometimes, when the mom-thing becomes a little overwhelming, I must admit, I would really love to have someone "official" march up to my house, ring my doorbell, and proclaim me "The Best Mom Ever" (at least for the day). A tiara and a few balloons would be nice. I imagine a "Publisher's Clearinghouse" sort-of-vibe. "Congratulations, you are the Best Mom Ever." Maybe a little gold certificate that I could hang on the fridge too, next to Henry's report card and Anna's perfectly-colored caterpillar picture.
A mom can dream, right??
But just like my mom gave me all she had to give years ago, now I do the same for my own. On and on it goes.
Of course, Henry won't understand any of this until his own kids ask for chopsticks at an unexpected moment.
And who am I kidding? Maybe some of the more mundane, sticky, endless cleaning things are thankless. But most days, the big as a bear, random white knuckle hugs and the "just 5 more kisses, mom" good-byes, and the overwhelmingly proud mama feelings that well up from a place that I didn't even know existed.....well, those more than equal anything I could possibly give to my kids - - a million times over.
So dear Henry, I may not always have chopsticks ready to go. But, I swear, if there is anything I can possibly do to help with life's dilemma's, both big and small....Well honey, I've got your back!
I'd jump over the moon for you.
Added: I just published this post, and walked up to the kitchen for a glass of water. As the ice cubes dropped into my cup, I happened to glance at side of the fridge. Hanging next to Henry's report card, tucked way back and almost unseen, was the mother's day card the kids gave me in May. "To the world's greatest mom...."
I guess my doorbell did ring after all....