Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Making it look easy

When helping to put away groceries as a kid, it was not uncommon to find a six-pack package of Snickers in one of the brown paper grocery sacks we brought in from the car. Waiting.

Four kids plus two parents meant that six packs were perfect for my family. Somehow (when it came to six packs) the unspoken "one per" honor system policy worked like a charm.

Snickers' six packs were stored in the cupboard above the dishwasher, to the left. When a family member was ready for their snack, they would take their share from the six pack. As the youngest with a voracious sweet tooth, I often found myself clambering onto the counter and reaching for my Snickers within minutes of delivery.

I'm not sure why I would tempt myself this way, but long after I'd devoured my one sixth, I would climb back onto the counter and peek into the cupboard to see how many remained. Sometimes, if I was lucky, there would be one left. This one almost always belonged to my mother.

Inevitably, I would ask my mother if I could have her share. She would say yes and I would run off greedily clutching my SECOND treat.


Fast forward many years. While sitting in my parents' kitchen ready to enjoy some dessert given to me, my then young nephew walked into the room. Seeing what I had in my hand he innocently asked if he could have it.

I gave it to him. I'm embarrassed to admit I felt torn for a few moments -- part of me wanted to take a bite first or ask him for half or to say no!


Shortly after he left the room, I happened to glance up at the cupboard above the dishwasher and it hit me. Not the cupboard or the dishwasher, but the fact that my mom also has a sweet tooth. And that she love loves loves Snickers Bars.

It had never occurred to me that she was a sacrificing something she wanted for herself back then. I never sensed any hesitation. There were no visible signs that what she was doing was difficult or annoying.
She made it look so easy.
This one thought was followed by a whole jumble of others.
She had made everything look easy! The one trivial glimpse I had via the experience with my nephew was merely the tip of a gargantuan iceberg! I had been a terrible burden! My poor mother!
As these thoughts swirled around my big-selfish-jerk head, it dawned on me: she couldn't have hidden the difficulties put upon her by the trials of motherhood without concerted effort; it had been done skillfully, and more importantly, with intention. This was her gift to me.


Looking down the hallway toward my nephew, I realized I had unconsciously done my best to pass my mother's gift on to him. Granted, I'm nowhere near as gracious as my mother -- but to have something like that to even strive to give is a gift within itself.

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