“Mommy, I need help!” Karenna bounded into my office with a tangle of scotch tape stuck to her hands.
“In a few minutes. I have to finish this.”
Karenna’s in a phase where she finds random objects around the house and tries to wrap them herself. She began this hobby by neatly folding her “gifts” in blankets and towels. She’s since progressed to covert present-wrapping operations, smuggling wrapping paper and tape from the closet and sneaking off to her room to finish the deed.
Occasionally I’ve found her crying in the middle of a mass of crumpled paper and piles of twisted tape strands. “I can’t do it, mommy!” she cries. I end up wrapping up the stuffed animal, bar of soap, or whatever the gift of the day is, for her. Then she unwraps her present, pretends to be surprised, and the cycle continues.
This particular day was the worst possible day for her present-wrapping obsession to become a full-blown birthday party. I had already assisted her in gathering decorations and blowing up balloons that afternoon, and with a deadline looming I had to focus.
“But mommy, I need more tape for my pretend-birthday party.”
“If you just hang on a few more minutes, you’ll have my full attention. Be patient!” I barked, a little too impatiently. I fixed the tape mess and sent her on her way, feeling guilty and frazzled.
Ten minutes later, I had almost finished my article. I just needed to fix one more thing…
“MOMMY, COME ON! YOU HAVE TO SEE!” Karenna flew in, grabbing my hand and almost pulling me out of my chair.
“WHAT, Karenna?! I can’t just drop what I’m doing every time you need something!!” Defeated and at my whits end, I begrudgingly let her pull me down the hall to her room.
“SURPRISE! Happy Pretend-Birthday, Mommy!” She stood proudly, waiting for my reaction to the streamers, the balloons, the birthday signs, the meticulously-set tea-party table. Only then had I noticed that she’d changed into her best dress and dress-up jewelry. She handed me her homeade gift. I unwrapped it to find a picture drawn in crayon. It showed two happy stick figures under a rainbow and surrounded by hearts. Inside each heart was the word “Mommy.”
“Thank you so much. You worked very hard on this, and I love it.” As I knelt down to hug her, I felt like a fool. I felt gratitude for my family, and for a daughter who spends a whole afternoon throwing me a pretend-birthday party.
I hope this Mother’s Day blesses me with more moments like these. They are way more important than deadlines, fancy brunches, expensive baubles or anything else. They remind busy moms how worth it it is to drop everything and enjoy our kids’ adoring love for us. Little do they know, that unconditional love is the best gift we could ever receive.