From Chicken Soup for the Working Mom's Soul

Pennies and Prayers

The three of us were gathered around our breakfast table. My husband, Alex, swallowed the last few drops of his coffee, pushed his chair away from the table, and kissed us good-bye.

It was 7:00 AM on a Monday morning.

Our three-year-old son was perched on his booster chair, wearing cowboy pajamas, bunny-rabbit slippers, and a corduroy robe. He looked up at us intently through oversized, sparkling blue eyes with long, fluttering lashes. Chewing his Cheerios, he started asking his usual questions.

“Is today a go-to-work day?”

“Yes, sweetheart, it is.”

“Can I go, too?”

“No, honey.”

“Does Daddy have to go to work?”

“Yes, he does.”

“Why does Daddy have to go to work?”

“Daddy has to go to work to make money. We need money to live in this apartment and buy food and milk and juice and cereal at the grocery store. We need money to buy other things, like our television, these dishes, and hamburgers and ice cream at McDonald’s. We need money for all that. If Daddy doesn’t go to work, we won’t have any money.”

This Monday morning was going to be very different from all the others. Today, I, too, was leaving for work. Alex had just changed careers, and his compensation was now based solely on the promise of future commissions. We decided that I would begin working outside the home to help supplement our income until he got established. New questions from our son were sure to follow.

“But why do you have to go to work, Mommy?”

“Well, Vince, Mommy is going to work because we need just a little extra money.”

All of sudden, those big blue eyes of his lit up, as if he actually understood what we were trying to tell him. He jumped from his chair and took off running down the hall for his bedroom. We heard him open a drawer of his dresser, and then a “clinking” sound filled the air. The clink-clink-clink kept getting louder. It matched the cadence of running feet. Vince appeared, clutching his piggy bank to his chest.

Each time grammas, grandpas, aunts and uncles, or friends came over, they gave Vince money. He gripped every coin with his elfin fingers and carefully positioned each one to drop through the narrow slot. One at a time they clinked into his chubby yellow plastic pig. We thought this was a valuable tool to teach our son the concept of saving money. We explained to him that after there were many coins inside, he could use them for something very special. He counted the contents often and always referred to it as “my money.”

He proudly raised his plump little piggy toward us. Still panting, with excitement in his voice and a big smile on his face, he said, “I’ll give you all my money so you can stay home, and we can all be together.”

We couldn’t speak. The lumps in our throats brought tears to our eyes. A sharp, cruel arrow of guilt penetrated deep into my spirit. Could it ever be successfully removed? It felt like my heart had been wounded beyond repair. Could I ever forget the words my child just spoke? Would that look of anticipation in his eyes ever leave the camera of my mind? Had we made a mistake? Was the decision we made for me to work outside the home a bad one? Our desire was only to do what we thought best for our family.

That incident took place thirty-two years ago. In the years since, we have learned how to seek God’s guidance in our decisions and our finances. If at times we felt we had made a mistake, we entrusted the outcome to God in faith.

That blue-eyed “boy” now flies 757 and 767 jet aircraft all over the world as captain for a major airline. Because of his profession, he lives in a different state than we do. Just recently, we enjoyed a memorable seven-day visit at our son’s home. A major topic of conversation during our stay was the possibility of our buying a condo as a second home in the area where he lives.

The three of us were sitting around his breakfast table. Sipping his coffee, Vince looked up at us with his sparkling eyes and said, “Listen, Mom and Dad, don’t worry about the money part of it. I’ve saved a lot over the years, and I can pay your taxes and fees and whatever expenses you need help with. Just do it, and we can all be together in the same place.”

Some things never change—piggy banks are profitable partners. We have contacted a real estate agent and will fly back to look at property. God’s protective, loving hand can help overcome obstacles and mend a mother’s heart; it is filled with overflowing gratitude, not guilt.

Peggy Bert

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