Last night while I was yelling at my kids to put their lunches and water bottles on the counter for the 15th time… my 6 year old came up to me and said, “Mom, will you write me a note that says, ‘I love you’ and put it in my lunch for tomorrow?”
Well, that’s pretty specific.
“Sure, Zoom, I’ll do that.” But I’m wondering if this is like the time all the other kids got candy in their lunch and he didn’t? Sadly, I knew he had seen this from another Kindergartener’s lunch. My oldest son would NEVER have done this. I was really going to have to keep up my “Great Mom” points with this one, but please tell me it doesn’t include writing love notes each day because I can barely get your lunch packed!!! Isn’t there some other clever way I can be the best mom in your class? Maybe I could sing and dance or something… if I had any talent. Alright, so it’s going to take some thought, but I’m sure I’m the best at SOMETHING!
And he dragged me back in. “Mom, write it right now so you don’t forget. I don’t want you to forget.”
Uh, so I’m also not the best mom at remembering all those cute things I tell my kids I’m going to do and then forget. It’s not malicious. I truly intend to do all those little things, but the other fifty life-giving things get in the way like…
*making your bed
*cleaning your bathroom
*cleaning your clothes and stacking them in a pile for you to find them
*doing homework with you
*yelling at you for various things you’ve forgotten.
I’m a busy mom, son!
But yes, yes was the only answer to that question. Even if somewhere inside I was thinking there might be a great lesson about ‘not conforming’ or ‘not making someone like me into the mom he wanted me to be but celebrating the mom I am’… No, that’s just a bunch of crap. Even I know that.
“Yes, I’ll write it right now!”
I walk over to the kitchen drawer to open up the bag of thank you cards I had intended to send out for birthdays, possibly last year, possibly the year before. Another thing I’m great at. Man, I suck. I did send a thank you to everyone over email. I truly hope my friends know I care. I just didn’t write 50 cards while I was working 17 hour days in November. Big sigh. Back to task at hand.
And my oldest, Mack, begins helping with the project. “Mom, you should totally write a better card than his friends mom. Write that he’s the best son and write it really big.”
“I am using a big card. You think that’s okay? I could write BIG on the big card.”
“Yah mom, that’s good,” my 9 year tells me. “His friend’s mom probably just writes it on a piece of paper.”
I childishly pull out a red pen and start writing largely over the large card.
“Mom,” Mack continues, “you know it’s his friend he always competes with. You have to do a great job so Zoom can show he has a better mom.”
And I knew he was right. This wasn’t just about me. This was about him. Or me. Or me AND him? Yah, maybe that. Either way, Mack was only fueling the fire.
“Yes son. Here’s what I wrote, Thanks… (since it’s a thank you card) for being the best Zoom in the whole world! I love you SO much! You’re the best! I love you! Mom. You think that’s ok?”
“Yah, that’s good, mom. Great job.”
I closed the card, put it in a matching envelope, licked it shut and wrote Zoom’s name in bright red letters on the front of the card. I attached a small firecracker show, a petting zoo and confetti which would jump from his lunchbox when it opened, along with a small band of horns, lots of horns and matching outfits on the players, and one of those big drums. I mean, we had to have the drum, even though that might have been too much. They are pretty loud and big. But a competition is a competition. If you’re going to play, play to win. Always do your best, I tell my kids. My dad used to say if you’re a trash man, be the best trash man ever. I clearly didn’t get my sense of extremes from my dad. What a relief!
And my oldest, who I always think isn’t that competitive, didn’t miss a beat making sure his little brother didn’t lose a contest either. Mostly, he knows Zoom has to win everything. And he was awesome to make sure he won. And I say that without actually knowing, but I think with confidence there is no way his mom was ready to beat that today. Puh-lease! That bitch doesn’t know what’s coming! Stop, be nice, me! That’s totally not what I was thinking.
Yes, we missed the point of the exercise. We missed the deeper meaning which is, we all express love differently. We missed the chance to learn something that would make us better people, but we missed it together, as a family. We stood on the same side of the fence, in the very, very shallow water. We held hands, and we won, damnit! And sometimes, that’s really all that matters.
To love, family and sometimes being—just winners.