It was a couple days before Christmas. It was a tough, busy day, one of many in a particularly tough, busy week. Too much to do. Too many places to rush to. My little Mack had been in a particularly foul mood.
Earlier that morning, I had announced (with energy! and optimism!) that it was time! We needed to clean up and prepare for Christmas weekend. I was (and am) so excited about taking a few days off from everything, and to just sit and enjoy my family for a few days. To play games and eat cookies and sing together and gaze into the eyes of most of the people I love so much, and to drink endless cups of coffee and catch up on everything.
I’m so eager to sweep up sawdust, haul tools and lumber out of sight for just a few days, and just enjoy being together with our dear ones. To anticipate a toddler and a baby in the house again–my adorable grandsons of the sparkling eyes and the darling stubby fingers and the dewy skin!–oh, oh, oh, I couldn’t (and can’t!) wait.
Amalia went right to work, as is her wont, thankfully. But Mack–instantly, without hesitation–had a meltdown. Again. And it wasn’t pretty. He stuck his lip out, he stomped his feet, he wailed, he looked ready to hit me. And I just stared at him–weak, tired, and at a complete loss. What was going on? I didn’t have time for this. And–make no mistake!–this wasn’t the first time this week that this had happened. He just wasn’t happy. Something was missing. It wasn’t just the chores. We struggled through the morning’s tasks anyway, with his fighting me and fussing . . . every blessed step of the way.
I hope the two or three people, by the way, who have accused me of having “perfect children” are reading this (cough). 🙁 See?
We struggled right up to the moment when I left, leaving the mess and poor dutiful Amalia and the to-do list and everything behind for a couple of hours while I indulged in taking my Mom to her knitting group. I said to myself that I was doing it for her–I surely didn’t have time to slip away for a couple of hours–but it fed my tired spirit enormously, to sit with friends and do nothing but knit and chat. The great thing about our group of knitting ladies is this: we all come from different backgrounds and live completely different lives from each other, but I feel completely accepted there. Mom and I don’t always go, but when we do, I feel like the other ladies treasure the fact that we are there. Strangely. Better yet. They don’t sit in judgment over us; they don’t think about our shortcomings when they look at us, I can tell it. They are just happy that we are there.
For whatever reason, they like us. 🙂
Driving back home, thinking about what I was to face when I got there–dust, piles of dirty dishes, dirty laundry, weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth–I opened my heart to my mother, and confided in her about how difficult our little Mack had been lately. Mom thought for just a moment, and then she quietly reminded me of how much my little man had lost over the past year or two: two beloved older brothers–who are so good to him, and will drop everything to play with him for a couple of hours, really, what a dream for any little boy to have these sweet young men in his life!–had moved away. They were now still quite far away (though Tim is on a hiatus from his far-awayness), too far to go visit without a very long drive. His lovely older sister–also a force for good in his life, and for creative play like making movies and drawing together–had gotten married and had moved out of the house, also.
All this, in a little more than a year’s time.
(And what was left? A tired, frustrated mother who expected more and more from him.)
“How hard for him,” my mom said, simply. “I’ll bet he’s just sad. And struggling with all those changes.” I went home with a heavy heart, knowing that she was right, that I just needed to sit down and play with my boy, but I knew that there were still jobs that needed to be done before I could do that—my friend Gene was coming over the next morning to help me with the soil in my hoop house. I needed help tearing down the tomato cages so they were out of the way, first, before we could work on the soil. Amalia left for work as soon as I got home, so it was going to be up to Mack and me.
I called my little man to me, took a deep breath, and explained the grim situation to him.
I needed help.
And he–bless his heart!–was it.
Tearing down tomato cages is not a single-person job, especially in the hoop house, where the tomato vines grow so vigorously and joyfully up and out of their confines, and then all the way back to the ground again. They are like wild adolescents: you can’t tell me where I can and can’t go, Mom! I am growing up! And out! They are monsters, these plants, and it takes two people to jerk them out of the cages, even after they’ve been dead for a couple of months. In fact, the reason this job wasn’t done yet was because I just hadn’t gotten around to getting somebody out there to help me. I explained this to Mack, and I saw his eyes grow wide and his eyebrows plunge downwards, and his lip push out.
He was going to melt down again.
*But then it hit me, all at once, what he needed. He needed me to say to him what I, myself, am aching to hear, every blessed day of my life. Probably since my baby years. Probably until I’m ancient. Probably what you want to hear every day, too, from somebody you care about, whether you know it or not.
“You are precious to me, you know,” I said, looking deep into his green eyes that are nearly identical to my own. “I love you. You are my treasure. I don’t know what I’d do without you. That’s the truth.”
*Isn’t this the most important thing? We all need–we all deeply desire to feel precious to somebody. It does make all the difference, doesn’t it, between a crappy day getting you down, or a crappy day being something you can just laugh off. And please pardon my crude lingo. (Forgive me, Amalia, I just can’t think of a better word . . . I am, after all, a slave to my Gentle Readers. 😉 )
I watched him closely as his little face contorted for just a moment, and then it cleared. Then he reached into his pocket. “Will we need my pocket knife?” he asked, his eyes shining, pulling his beloved “Swiss” out of his pocket with a proud flourish.
“Absolutely,” I said, blinking away tears. I folded him into my arms for just a moment, just as long as he could stand it . . . before he broke free, and ran off to find boots and coat. He already had his Swiss.
I’m sorry, little man, for not remembering to tell you just how much I love you, every single day. You are my treasure. Someday you, too, will put on a new jacket that I just bought for you, you’ll pack up your boxes and your bags and you’ll get into the car or truck or hovercraft that you’ve just built, or whatever it is that will take you away from me, and you will go. Forgive your old mama for not reminding you of how precious a gift you are to me, every stinkin’ moment of every stupid day.
Do you have somebody in your life who is a bit prickly or troublesome or frustrating right now? Is this something you need to do, to reassure them of your love for them? It might turn things around. I would never lecture you, my darling Gentle Readers, but I’m sharing with you what I myself learned this very week. *sigh*
You never stop learning, do you? And thank God for that.
And here’s the thing, Gentle Reader, and I hope you already know this, but I’ll remind you of it, just the same. Even if you don’t have somebody in your life who tells you, regularly, that you are precious to them–in their actions, but also in their words–and gosh, I hope that you do!—you are precious to God.
Isn’t that a comfort? It is to me.
That’s why he sent his son, in the most wonderful form anybody can imagine–a sweet, dewy-skinned baby–to save us from lives of despair and hopelessness.
“Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you . . . “–Is 43:4
Is this not a wonderful thing? Isn’t it a bit mind-blowing? I am so not worthy of this.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” –Is 9:6
Gentle Readers. Thank you for returning to this space, again and again, and for loving me the way you do. Every sweet comment, every “way ta go, Amy!” every time you find my posts worthy enough to share with your friends, every time you share a helpful tip with me, all these simple actions serve to build me up.
*You guys are precious to me. See how easy this is?
Merry, happy, lovely, beautiful, precious Christmas to you!
- Russian Tea Cakes and a handful of delightful variations
- Year-end musings and a baker’s dozen events that I DIDN’T write about . .