His chocolate-brown eyes glitter with such an innocent joy that I can’t help but scoop him up in my arms. At four, my son still has a touch of baby in him that allows him to come running to me when hurt and lets me lie next to him until he falls asleep. But he’s a little boy in most ways and, as with most little boys, the first signs of spring are like rain after a drought to him.
After we had the mildest of winters the lizards and roly-polies are out early this year. We spend most of the day after school outside as he scours the backyard for his favorite critters.
Daily he comes to me with offerings of love found beneath the trees that tower overhead. I hear his sweet voice cry out “for you, Mommy.” He presents me with a tiny yellow flower.
It’s not really even a flower, as my husband is quick to point out. It is a weed.
I can hear him groan every time one of the kids bends down to blow the dandelion seeds into the wind. The child in me loves to see the cottony white seeds take flight on the breeze, spinning like little ballerinas, tutus twirling in the sun.
My husband sees the resulting stubborn yellow flowers sprouting up in the yard, making more yard-work for him.
But my son sees something precious—a gift for his mommy.
I see a priceless offering from a son who wants to pour out love in the only way he knows how.
I sit watching him dig in the dirt that we have told him a thousand times to leave be. But there are such good delights found in there and he doesn’t care that we have somewhere to go and that his sleeves are caked in dirty by now.
I watch and I envy him—his freedom, his ease in finding delight in simple things, his heart that gives so freely. As I watch him I think of the offerings I attempt to bring to my Father.
I work so hard to make sure they are “right.” I look around me at the other children and compare my paltry gifts to those next to me. Those sisters of mine have words that sound lovelier. So many people are reading their words, surely my gift isn’t good enough. They have more time to give, pouring out their lives for their children as stay at home moms or in ministries that reach so many people. Surely their gift is holier, more pleasing to Dad.
I work myself into a ball of nerves. If only I can work harder, I will have more to offer. If I can stay up a little later and squeeze a little more into my schedule, I can be all the things everyone expects me to be. Then Dad will be pleased with me. Then I will feel like what I do matters, will get that pat on the back I have been waiting on.
My son runs up to me with a perfect ball of fuzz in his hands. He knows how happy they make me so he is saving it just for me. As he closes his eyes, holding tight to the belief that those dancing seeds will carry his wish along with them on the wind, a mix between a laugh and a sob catches in my throat.
The simple things he brings to me make me happy not because they are lovely but because I love him. In the hands of the one I love, a weed becomes an offering.
I love the joy in his eyes when he gives. I love that moment of connection we have. Our eyes meet and I thank him for his gift. Delight in knowing that I am pleased fills his little face for a moment before he runs off again. That moment is what I live for.
I may not get a vase full of flowers often from my husband or kids to show their love for me. I don’t mind. Give me a hand-picked dandelion any day! Or even a roly-poly captured in joy and brought to me with delight.
For a four-year old boy, these are his favorite treasures, yet he gives them up for me. That’s a real offering of love— giving up what is most dear to us, giving of ourselves.
How did we grow up and make everything so complicated?
“Dance, mommy!” He calls out to me as he watches the tiny dancers lift into the sky carried on the wind. For a moment I join them, dancing with him.
For a moment this little boy with grubby hands becomes my teacher as I try to remember what it is like to freely give and trust that my Father receives what little I have to offer with love—simply because I am His.