The other day, my daughter and I were working a row of weeds. Actually several rows, but since I promised her we’d only tackle one row a day — the trick to securing her continued return — I was doing the bulk of the weeding. Which I don’t mind. Surrounded by sprouts and vegetables in varying stages of growth, I feel productive. And all the better: I’m not folding clothes. So life is good!
It was a warm, but beautiful day when she rose from her aisle of hay and exclaimed, “All done!”
The relief on her face was too funny – and predictable – and I couldn’t help but tease, “Already? Wow.” I surveyed her handiwork. “You’re amazing. How about another?”
“Mom,” she replied sternly, slapping a dirt-covered hand to her hip. “You promised. Only one row.”
“I know, I know.” I chuckled. “It was worth a try.” Dismissed, she trotted off to find her brother.
Only to return an hour later. Kneeling down in the row beside me, she began to pick at weeds. I glanced at her, surprised. “What are you doing? I thought you were finished weeding.”
“I am,” she reassured. “But I’m bored, so I thought I’d come help.”
I sat back on my heels. “You’re always welcome to help. In fact,” I added, “I like being in the garden with you, just us girls.”
This drew a smile from her, but she maintained focus on her task. I resumed my leaf pluck expedition down a line of eggplant, and together we worked in silence.
Until she murmured, “Mom, you are Superwoman.”
My heart sung! My spirit soared! “Superwoman?” I tried to conceal my glee. I mean — could it be true? She finally noticed?
Warmed by the sentiment, I smiled, flattered she noticed. It’s because I’ve devoted my life to you, isn’t it? I’ve signed on to be Girl Scout leader, always offer to be school volunteer, I’m ever the reliable athletics chaperone…
Basking in the glow of my daughter’s admiration, my imagination flittered about, enthralled with a sense of validation, honor, and the glorious reward for my years of dedication. I lost all sense of good judgment and replied, “That’s so sweet. But you know, baby doll, I’m not Superwoman.” I didn’t want her to invest any time in unrealistic goals and expectations for herself, her future, so I told her, “I’m just a woman, doing what she loves.”
Her expression twisted in confusion. “You love weeding?”
I pulled back. “Weeding?” Now we were both confused. “No…” My hands fell to my sides, and landed in dirt. “I was referring to your Superwoman comment.”
“Why did you say I was Superwoman?” I asked, but could feel the hoe slicing through the air, its blade headed straight for me.
“Cause you have endurance! I don’t know any mom who could weed as much as you!”
Ouch. Bubble-filled fantasies popped. My ego deflated. Humidity clung to my skin like a wet noodle. There’s a kick in the rear.
But as those innocent green eyes held me in their gaze, I knew I couldn’t be upset. I had to take her at her word — the one she meant to be a compliment. And while it may not have been the one I had hoped, it was her own, and wholly genuine. Heartfelt.
It doesn’t get any better than that.
Rising from my knees, I walked over and placed a kiss on the top of her head. “Thank you, baby. I appreciate that, and it was kind of you to say.”
She beamed, pleased with herself. I grinned, heartened by her self-contentment. Both of us were satisfied with the moment, the kind which may prove scarce as she grows into adolescence.
So me, I took my lump of sugar when and where I could — as any smart mother would. One never knows when the next batch will arrive!