A simple gift in the midst of our suffering
She fumbled in her purse for her wallet while her two year old daughter, looking adorable in pigtails and pink, asked impatiently for the cookie her mom was buying. I stood behind the counter in my messy apron and smiled at the little girl, thinking of Molly and what she would have been like. The mom, clearly irritated, glanced over her shoulder and out of frustration, told her daughter to stop asking her for the cookie or she wasn't going to get it. Looking back at me she mumbled, "I don't know why am I buying her a cookie. She clearly doesn't need one and is bouncing off the walls. So annoying."
Working at the bakery last fall and into winter, I came across many parents toting their kids behind them as they purchased a cake for a birthday, cupcakes for a party, or a cookie to quiet their shouting kid. Having just surrendered my only child made me more aware of how selfish we can be. I wanted to sit down with each mom that came through that door and share with them what I had lost and how they weren't appreciating the gift they had been given. As it was not my place, I never did.
I did encounter one young mom who inquired about the necklace I wore to work. A simple black and white photo of Molly that hangs around my neck on a thin silver chain. Mentioning her own daughter, she asked me how old Molly was. When I shared with her our story, her eyes filled up with tears. She asked me what she could do for me and I kept telling her there was nothing she could do. Then it dawned on me, here was my chance.
I told her there was something she could do for me: She could enjoy her daughter and the blessing of having her in her life. After telling her this, she nodded and affirmed my suggestion saying she would do that. I saw this mom several times while working at the bakery and each time she would ask how I was doing and thank me for sharing my story.
A few days ago I got a message in my Facebook inbox from Carrie, a young mom I have met only once. I didn't even know she had kids until she wrote me on Thursday. Here's a bit of what she said:
"What I really wanted to share with you is how you have really taught me to be a better mother. Having these two so close together is not always easy, but the second Madison starts throwing a fit, or Noah hasn't slept all night, I stop in my frustration and think about Molly and Micah. In an instant, my frustration is gone and I look at them as the fragile blessings they are."
I know that I don't know the difficulties and frustrations that come with parenting. I do not share this to put myself on a podium as someone to be admired. I share it to encourage those of you who have been given the gift of children in your care, to enjoy them as much as possible. I would gladly give my suffering to be up late at night with a crying baby or in a bakery with a toddler demanding a cookie. I would also love to have the joys of holding them as they fall asleep, reading Dr. Suess in funny voices, and making cupcakes for a birthday party.
My heart longs for those moments and is tired of this suffering. It is my prayer that you enjoy the ups and downs of parenting, knowing that our kids are on loan to us, a gift from God.