I received my first paycheck for being a mother last month. Nine cents. Handed directly to me by my five-year-old daughter. Nine cents before taxes, social security and insurance are taken out. To some, it’s a laughable living, receiving less in five years than employees in sweat shops make in a day. But you have to understand. Nine cents is more than you and I believe it to be. There are only two ways of arriving at this amount: by piecing together one nickel and four pennies, or using nine of those little Lincoln-bearing coins.
My paycheck came in the nickel and pennies variety. In other words, I received not just one loose coin while digging through pockets before running yet another load of laundry. Five valuable “monies,” as my daughter calls them, were intentionally given to me.
One nickel and four pennies. Five coins altogether. In the mind of a preschooler who doesn’t understand the value of the various colored coins, five is a lot. Definitely more valuable than just one measly quarter.
My payment came as a result of a game I’ve played with my daughter over the years. “Mama, can I have a lollipop?” my daughter asks, eager to raid her Halloween stash.
“Oh, it’s going to cost you,” I respond with a smile showing the real meaning behind my statement. Micayla is the sweet, affectionate sort, and it’s no problem for her to run over and smother my face with wet, puppy-like kisses as payment. But this time it’s different. Rather than running toward me, her little feet quickly carry her in the opposite direction. Clanking noises fill her bedroom as she struggles to release the few coins in her much sought-after piggy bank.
“No, Micayla,” I cry out, fearful I’ve taken this game too far. My dad frequently raises an eyebrow when watching this exchange, especially whenever I say the price is a kiss on Grandpa’s cheek. I’ve always known it borders buying my daughter’s affection, something I desperately don’t want to do. I thought her laughter as she doles out her payments showed she understood the silliness behind my requests. But this time there is no kiss, just grunts as she struggles to free the hard plastic circle from the bottom of her piggy bank.
Have I just qualified for the worst mom award? Why did I start this silly game anyways?
My heart is pounding, fearful of what might ensue. Frantic, I shout out, “I’m only kidding. You don’t need to pay me anything. Please don’t give me anything.” I hope this doesn’t permanently alter our relationship. Will she forever view me as the mother who buys her love? Oh, I hope not.
The rattling continues and then my daughter returns to my room, her face glowing with achievement, pride, and joy. As her eyes gleam, she tells me in her most loving, innocent voice, “Mama, here’s your reward for being such a great mother.” It is ironic how just this morning I stepped over a penny, thinking it too insignificant to be worth my time to stoop and retrieve it. Yet as she piles the once-deemed worthless coins on my nightstand, tears of gratitude well in my eyes.
Being a mom is undoubtedly one of the hardest jobs. I stay up late nursing Micayla back to health when she’s sick, serve as a doctor after she scrapes her knees, and do my best to make learning fun, all the while teaching her valuable life lessons and instilling principles such as integrity and honor. I do all these things without expecting anything in return, yet when I least expected it, I received the most priceless payment ever: nine cents.
By Stacy Voss, Founder of Eyes of Your Heart MinistriesLeave a Comment
Becky M says
Our four year old grandson is still in the “literal” stage – he doesn’t understand when you are “joking.” I have to be really careful what I say. The other night his great-grandpa told our grandson that eating hushpuppies would put hair on his chest. Grandpa then asked our grandson’s Mom if she wanted hushpuppies — our grandson yelled, “no, Mom, you don’t want hair on your chest.” 🙂 Sometimes we just don’t know what our little ones are thinking.
Thansk for the perspective!
Julie Sunne says
Sweet reminder of what’s valuable–wisdom from our little ones!
I have been requiring “payment” of your sort for years with my boys. Now 13 and 9, I don’t even ask for it anymore, now -usually with a wiggle of an eyebrow too they laughingly pay me for everything, even things I never required it from and sometimes just for mom things like doing one of their chores for them or fixing a favorite meal . And it does this moms heart a lot of good when they even do it in front of their friends or in public because “she’s the mom, she gets kisses whenever, it’s one of the mom perks.” After 13 years the brainwashing is ingrained:) Never have they thought they were buying my love, it has always been a fun family joke.
Cyndi, I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one–and even more excited to know that 13 and 9 year olds still kiss their mamas! I love it!!
Dee, your welcome.
Becky, I love the story about the hush puppies. What part of the country are you in? I haven’t even heard about those yummy things since I moved to Colorado.
I super love this, especially this line here: “I do all these things without expecting anything in return, yet when I least expected it, I received the most priceless payment ever: nine cents.”
Lovely story and lesson, Stacy! Thank you for sharing it with us here!