An Old Dog's Lessons of Love and Hope Amid the PandemicCheryl Gottlieb Boxer
We all know that motherhood can be a thankless job.
It’s hard work. It’s tedious tasks and constant sacrifices as we do all we can to raise healthy and responsible kids. When our kids are little, the work seems endless and exhausting, but we don’t expect a lot of appreciation from our children because they don’t understand all the countless ways we take care of them every single day. They don’t realize we are pouring our hearts and energy into meeting their every need. They are innocent and naïve, just learning how to walk and talk and poop in the toilet.
But when our kids grow up and become teens, they are old enough to recognize how much we do to raise them, and those rare but beautiful signs of gratitude are our best reward. When they smile and hug us and say “Thanks mom” it melts our hearts and motivates us to keep going. When they send sweet texts saying they appreciate us, we are propelled forward with fresh hope to keep up with our mission to raise them well. When our kids thank us for coming to their game or taking us to a friend’s house or tell us they loved the meal we cooked for them, our hearts swell and we are once again fueled to survive this crazy busy exhausting worrisome season of motherhood.
But really, at their age, we don’t expect too much because we know how hard being a teenager can be.
These years bring busy schedules and tough growing pains that often distract our kids from really seeing all we do. They are so consumed with their own lives, their own worries, their own challenges with personal struggles, or school or sports or friends, that they rarely pull out of their own worlds to notice what we are doing in ours.
They simply aren’t tuned in enough to acknowledge everything we do for them, everything we help them with, all the ways we spend our time and energy trying to support them, guide them, encourage them, and comfort them. They don’t get how grueling and exhausting it can be to show up at all their games, their tournaments, their meets, their performances, and any other activity they participate in. They forget that it takes so much of our time to drive them everywhere while trying to manage our own busy lives too. They don’t notice how much we feed them, clean up after them, and keep the house stocked with their much-needed deodorant or their favorite conditioner. They don’t realize that those late-night calls to go pick them up, wear us down. They certainly wouldn’t understand the emotional strain of worry that consumes us while we try to let go, little by little, trusting them to make decisions for themselves.
Our kids just aren’t capable of understanding how much stress goes into parenting them through these exciting, yet stressful and demanding teen years. And through the millions of minutes of this stretch of the road we are trying to navigate, we still wish they would acknowledge many of the things we do and perhaps show their gratitude- a little bit more.
So anytime my kids ask what I want for my birthday or Christmas or Mother’s Day, I always say I’d love a letter from them. It’s my way of getting that “Thank you” I deserve and have it documented too. Brilliant, right? Right.
Recently, I received that letter from my son, but he went above and beyond my request.
With no one helping him or giving him the idea, he created an incredible coupon book for me. Now, I’m guessing most moms have received one of those special coupon books from their kids at some point through the years. They are precious and sweet and the intention
is beautiful. These little treasures rarely get used and might get put in a memory box somewhere because of how cute they are, but my 14-year-old son is a serious kid who is very committed to following through on things.
It was clear that he put a lot of time and thought into this particular book because he numbered every coupon and was super specific with exactly what service he would provide for the 96 coupons inside. Bless. Him.
I knew he meant it. I knew that this wasn’t just some sweet home-made gift to make me do that “mom-sigh” and hug him and call it a day. He took the time to carefully create every colorful page, stapled together and filled with all the important services he intended to offer. His goal was to truly acknowledge all that I do while committing to giving back to me in exactly 96 different ways.
When he gave it to me, it came with a prepared presentation, describing the coupons and specifically how I can use them. He went over all the important rules regarding the use of this book with a determination that told me he was truly committed to delivering the services it promised. This was no ordinary coupon book; this was a labor of love that he intended to carry out completely.
OH. MY. HEART.
And as I tearfully looked at each page during his coupon book lecture, I discovered a letter written in red marker right in the middle of the book.
There it was. The letter I asked for. The letter that I thought would be one or two sentences long with typical boy words like “Thanks mom. You’re the best.” But instead, it read like no other letter I’ve ever received from him before. Clearly, my kid took his time thinking through the words he deliberately chose. I was so moved by the details he described and the outpouring of gratitude and love he conveyed. Someone must have helped him with this treasure, right? Apparently not. It was all him, misspellings and grammatical error
“You are the best mom ever. You do all these things for us each day which may not look like big projects but over time they add up and put stress on you. I just wanted to say thank you from the deepest part of my heart for taking on these tasks and making this families lives easier. Hopefully these coupons will help you out. You do so much for this family thank you. Time is the most valuable thing in life, thank you for giving up it in serving us.
I love you so much!”
My son, who answers every single text with “K” or “Yes” or “No”, wrote all of this. My son, who is in the thick of raging hormones and allthethings 14-year-old boys go through, found a red marker, and poured his heart out in this letter. I wonder how long this took him to write? I’m betting quite some time because, with my boy, words like these rarely come easily. Pulling himself out of his world to truly see what goes on in mine is a rare and beautiful gift and I’m forever grateful for his love and appreciation poured out on this page.
I’ve since cashed in five of those coupons. I especially love the “Spa Day” ones, so my son has given me five 20-minute backrubs on different evenings, while we’ve watched our favorite shows together. I’ll be sure to use the other 91 coupons he so generously offered in the weeks and months to come. He’s carefully calculating my progress as I expected he would.
Yes, motherhood can be a thankless job, but sometimes, our kids really do come through for us, don’t they? Sometimes they surprise us by actually seeing all we do. And if we’re really lucky, they might even offer to give back a little too.
And we will hold onto those cherished moments forever.