That said, I thought to myself this morning about all of those times I have bent over backwards for my children. Do they even know that I go to the gym for their benefit? So I can run with a child in each arm down the street in an emergency? Or so I can balance a pan full of birthday brownies, three books, a costume, a purse and a three-year-old on my way into the school? Ugh. I wondered how many times I have done things just like this, and how my kids will not understand the effort until they do it for their own kids. By then, all of their doors will be automatic, so they really won't understand. Fine. I remember the time I had three different Thanksgiving Luncheons at two different elementary schools on two different days. Thankfully by then I had given up the idea of actually eating the school's version of Thanksgiving lunch. Nevertheless, I had at least one other preschooler with me, as well as a baby, and it was pouring rain. The lunches were far enough apart in time that it didn't make sense to stay at school the whole time. When I got home from the first one, I told my husband (who works from home) that if he really loved me, he would go to the next lunch. He did. He really loves me. Of course, that particular child has never forgiven me for sending Dad instead. I can't win.
So the question I've been pondering is if my kids really will remember all of the effort. Will the 3-YO remember that I ran back 100 yards to retrieve his Cookie Monster ring on our walk the other day? Will the snarky 13-YO appreciate it when I bring something to school he forgot, or when I look all over town for a specific item for a ridiculously specific project? I don't think they will. And I think I'm alright with that, because as I'm typing this, I actually don't remember all of those times that I said to myself (and to my kids) "Remember that I am the best mom-EVER! You owe me!" I think what I've concluded is that because motherhood is much more of a marathon than a sprint, it becomes an accumulation of many moments, choices, actions and gifts of love. It is Gestalt psychology at its finest--the whole is greater than the sum of its parts--or the sum of all the bags and items I can carry. My children will hopefully remember the feelings involved--that they can rely on me. That I can show them mercy more often than not, while teaching them the importance of personal accountability. That I love them and think they are the best kids in the world. That sacrificing personal comfort and exercising Christlike service for someone they love is extraordinarily important for that love to grow. They still owe me, but I'll exact payment in different ways...In the meantime, I'll continue to go to the gym so my biceps can handle it.
P.S. Thank you, Mom, for handling it for me. I know I owe you!