Due to unforeseen circumstances, I got little sleep last week. For several nights in a row, I got to bed late – if at all – and still had to get up and function the next day. This whole “being a grown-up” thing is quite overrated. At least when babies are up all night, they get to nap the next day.
Still, I had responsibilities to fulfill to my family and our business, so off to soccer practice and the hayfield I went. I was doing pretty well despite my fatigue until about 2 p.m.
At that point, I was riding the tractor raking hay, and the motion coupled with the white noise of the engine was lulling me to sleep. My eyelids were getting heavier and heavier when I made it around the last time. I wasn’t sure how I was going to ride the wagon and stack hay bales for the next couple of hours.
About that time, my husband pulled up on his tractor to see if I was ready. My middle daughter, who was riding the wagon alone, piped up.
“Dad, I wanted to try to load this wagon by myself,” she said.
Surprised, I looked up at her. This child is not typically a go-getter. She is known to take more than three hours to load the dishwasher. I’ve lost her for nearly a week when she was required to stay in her room until it is clean. She has even been known to voluntarily give up phone or TV privileges to get out of doing chores.
Her dad looked at her with the same surprise I displayed. But he told her he was willing to try if she was, and reminded her that, if it became too much, she was to tell him to stop rather than hurt herself.
I will admit here that I was a little bit relieved to not have to ride the wagon. Still surprised at her offer, I looked back at her with a smile. I was to be even more surprised by her next remark.
She looked down at me from her perch in the wagon and winked. Then she mouthed, “You’re welcome,” and laughed. My mouth dropped open.
She had seen my exhaustion and stepped up to help. She knew I was struggling to make it through the day and offered what she had to give to make it easier. I was so proud of – and grateful for – the gesture.
She rocked on that wagon, too. She stacked every one of the 200-plus bales without so much as a water break. When it came around for the final few bales, I made her stand up and have her picture taken. I want her to have something by which to remember that day when she is long over the newness of the hayfield.
I, on the other hand, will never forget her first wagon simply because of the gesture of love for me that it contained. Her offer to do extra work may have taken me by surprise, but her giving heart was no shock at all.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.