By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3
I pulled up to the computer keyboard today feeling refreshed after a relaxing Mother’s Day weekend. This year I received – in order of importance – a long nap, time to read a novel in a quiet room, and flowers to plant in the front yard. But the best part of the day was opening the handmade cards and art projects the kids gave me. Because a mother can learn a lot about herself from a handmade card.
Four-year-old Kate goes to preschool three days a week, and she brought home a Mother’s Day information sheet she filled out about me, with some help from her teacher. The teacher read the questions aloud, Kate said the answers, and the teacher printed Kate’s replies on the form.
First question: “My mom is (blank) years old.” Kate’s answer? 19.
Good girl! We were definitely off to a flattering start. When Kate’s older brothers filled out this same questionnaire during their preschool years, they both said I was in my eighties. So you can imagine my delight in seeing that I’d turned the clock all the way back to 19. Just wish someone would send a memo to my thighs about being 19 again.
Next question: “My mom likes to (blank).” Kate’s answer? “Work”.
Ugh. Ouch. I felt a little guilty stab to the heart. Does this mean I work too much? Or does she think I like to work because I work from home and she sees me working more than other kids whose parents have jobs away from home? Does she think I like work more than playing with her? Or is this a good thing? Maybe she’s learning that work can be something you like to do versus drudgery that you dread doing. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.
Next question: “While I’m at school, I know she (blank).” Kate’s answer: “still loves me.”
Awwwww. She nailed that answer. One of the other kids in Kate’s class answered that one by saying that her mom “goes to Wal-Mart.” The mom joked that the answer was accurate and that she was glad the kid didn’t say “drinks heavily” instead.
Final question: “My mom gets mad when I (blank).” Kate’s answer? “fight with my brothers.” So true. So very, very true. Sibling fights make me nuts.
Speaking of siblings, 6-year-old Jack made me an oversized card out of construction paper, and the outside was decorated with two large words: “Mom Rocks”, with little hearts glued inside the “o”’s and the “c”. Inside the card was a questionnaire similar to the one Kate brought home. One of the lines reads: “My Mom can do many things. I think she’s best at (blank)” which Jack filled in with the words “cooking hot dogs because she puts cechup (ketchup) and muster (mustard) on it.”
Sadly, this is an accurate report on my cooking skills. I hang my hat on the ability to apply condiments to processed meats in just the right way. A proud moment for me, no doubt. Jack also noted that he likes it when I play the board game “Sorry” with him, which helps me remember that it’s the little moments kids seem to remember most. All those little moments add up to a whole childhood.
Finally, my firstborn Adam pulled something out of his backpack that he’d made for me in his 3rd grade class. He’d neatly wrapped it in blue construction paper, so I carefully pulled the tape from the creases and folded back the wrapping to find a square photo frame he’d made from painted popsicle sticks. His school photo was in the middle of the frame, and a big butterfly dusted with gold glitter perched on the top left corner. On the back he’d written his own take on a classic rhyme: “Roses are red. Violets are blue. Out of all the Moms in the world, I love you.”
And those simple lines sum it up, if you ask me. There are millions of moms in the world. People have or adopt babies every day. But we are all made special and completely unique by the love of the kids we are blessed to raise. It doesn’t get any better than that.