My kids all have “Gift Giving” as their language of love.
I do not.
They love birthday gifts and Christmas gifts, special treats during the week, little surprises on a shopping trip. And as they’ve gotten older, they also like giving gifts. So as my birthday and Mother’s Day came 2 weeks apart, “What do you want?” became an ongoing refrain.
Many eye rolls. “No! What do you really want?”
“I really want obedience.”
More huffs, puffs and shaking of heads, “No, what do you really really really want?”
“I really really really want obedience. Or if you can’t give me that, cooperation, and if that’s too hard, not fighting with your siblings.”
This Mother’s Day, I sent Scott to the monastery because he really needed time away to decompress and pray. He was reluctant to strand me with 3 kids on Mother’s Day but I said, “It’s Mother’s Day, not Wife day. It’s up to the kids whether or how to celebrate.”
At 6:30 a.m. Ren (12) plopped onto my bed and fell asleep. I think it was his job to “guard” me.
Awakened, I decided to watch Downton Abbey on my laptop while trying to ignore the clashing of pots in the kitchen.
At 7:30, the two girls came in bearing a tray. Kai (14), the only child who’s taken after my obsession with cooking, presented her version of Eggs Canterbury—Eggs benedict with avocado, tomato, jack cheese, turkey, and Canadian bacon.
“Sorry, we have no meat so these are vegetarian Eggs Canterbury,” she said.
Along with Eggs Canterbury sans meat, they had made my typical granola/fruit/yogurt bowl (with 3 times the amount I eat each morning), bananas in orange juice with confectioner’s sugar, and de-caf coffee.
I may not have the gifts language of love but I do have the food language of love.
Kai had not made Eggs Canterbury sans meat for anyone else, so everyone wanted bites of mine. But they’re old enough now that they let me eat at least half of it—in years past, Ren would eat my entire breakfast.
Ling (16) gave me a homemade Mother’s Day card. Inside she wrote:
Hey Mommerz. . .Just wanted to let you know on your very special holiday just for you that I love you SO much! And our family would never be able to function without what you do for us. Cooking, cleaning, reluctantly submitting to my hugs [see The Chinese Problem with Hugs for more background}. . .all very much appreciated. So like most other holidays that we’re supposed to be obedient for you on, we’ll probably fail again today and you’ll be sad. Just want you to know that we all really wish we were good enough to give you that gift.
Wow. Ling encapsulated the human moral quandary. What the Apostle Paul mourns:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (Romans 7: 14, 18-19 TNIV)
Boy do I get it. I want to be a loving mom who never raises her voice in anger and always has the perfect natural consequence to inappropriate behavior. I want to be a mom who doesn’t cringe when kids pounce on me. I want to be perfect—for their sake—and I’m not. And neither are they.
I didn’t get perfect obedience nor a huge amount of cooperation that day. I definitely didn’t get peace between siblings. Instead, I received the message that even if they can’t get me what I really want, because they love me, they can give me a plastic flower that opens and closes with “Happy Mother’s Day” in its petals (from Ren), Eggs Canterbury sans meat with a feast (from Kai & Ling), and a note saying how much they try.
I didn’t get what I wanted, but I got something better.
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