My mother, the kids, and I spent Monday at the mall's end-of-summer "Mommy & Me" day. So did every mom who owned a stroller in a three-parish area. Between the moms, the grandmas, the kids, and the strollers...a can of sardines looked like a spacious mansion compared to that food court!
But it was so interesting to be among that many women who looked just like me--all a bit frazzled, most with hastily put on make-up and another bad hair day in a long line of bad hair days. We all snatched up the coupons for free ice cream, cookies, and kids meals, plastered stickers on t-shirts, and stood in mile-long lines for free carousel rides. We encouraged our children to not fear but rather hug or shake hands with the life size Build-A-Bear, cookie, ice cream cone, and Chick-Fil-A cow.
All us moms looked like deer caught in headlights. Our movements were jerky; our eyes darted around constantly like Secret Service women as we stayed on high alert, watching for our child to dart out into the melee or erupt in a spontaneous tantrum, a stroller to lose control and swerve into us, or an opening to appear in the crowd so we could squeeze though to another square foot of afternoon fun.
And then there were the sounds! It was like someone had secretly recorded me over the past month and then just stuck my words into these women's mouths.
"No! You have to stay in your seat!"
"Where do you think you're going? I don't think so."
"It's ok. Stop crying. The big cow is way over there now."
"Not until you eat all your meat."
"No, not both: you choose--ice cream or cookie."
All the while, Amelia's disposition was less than cheerful, probably due in part to the tooth I can see right beneath her top gums. And Emerson's car-nap on the ride home meant he thought the bed-nap this afternoon was a no-no.
As I plopped on the couch for an afternoon respite, I had the discouraging thought that Wyatt won't even remember today's sacrifice. So why bother when it's not a memory he'll probably even keep?
Later in the evening, Doug and Wyatt rode up on the silver gator and asked me to come for a ride, nowhere in particular, just around the neighborhood to feel the wind whip through our hair.
"We going blackberry picking?" Wyatt asked. I had forgotten we hadn't gone riding together since earlier this summer. He hadn't.
"No. There won't be any more blackberries till next year. I just want to ride with you because I love you. Is that ok?"
"Yeah." And he snuggled a bit closer in the crook of my arm.
He won't remember this single event either. But, it made me realize that it's not merely one event that's important. What matters is that when he adds them all together in his mind, he hopefully will have a picture of a childhood where he was loved, where he was taught about God and Jesus, where he was part of a family.
That's all any mother can hope for.