What Moms Can Do
There’s a sweet children’s book called “What Moms Can’t Do”. It’s told from the perspective of a young dinosaur as he notices all the things that his mama dinosaur can’t do without him … like crossing a busy road (he must hold her hand to keep her safe), being tucked in at night (he must let her read her a book or two before she can leave him for the night), and experiencing first adventures like kindergarten (he must be with her to calm her fears when she meets his teacher for the first time). I remember reading it to a classroom full of little people and hearing their responses in acknowledgment of what moms can’t do all the while my mama heart knew differently.
In fact, moms can do a lot of things. Moms can calm a fussy baby with a soothing, quiet voice. They can make hurts all better with a kiss and a band-aid. Moms can read the same book over and over and over despite the fact there are other books that have yet to be read. Moms know that triangle sandwiches taste better than squares and they know the exact number of cheerios in a bowl so that everyone gets the same amount. Moms can brighten a boring school lunch with a personalized napkin note. Moms can quiet a room with just a look and can speak volumes without saying a word. Moms can do a lot of things but just like the book title suggests, there are some things that moms can’t do. While moms can mend broken toys, they cannot mend broken hearts. Moms can say nice words and shower a child with compliments, but they cannot control the words or actions of others that in turn break a child’s spirit. Moms can hold a child’s hand for a little while but they cannot hold it forever. At some point they have to let go.
But they never really let go.
Moms continue to calm situations with quiet, soothing voices. They make hurts better by giving Dr. Mom advice when needed. Moms can still read the same books over and over and over…this time to a new generation. They still know how to make sandwiches taste better and know exactly how to make each piece of cake, pie, or pizza evenly-sized, even if it means she goes without. Moms can brighten a boring lunch by treating a child to their favorite restaurant and they can still quiet a room with just a look. And moms know that unspoken words are often the best thing that can be said. While they still cannot mend broken hearts or erase hurtful words, moms can provide a safe place to land when things are falling apart.
And that’s “What Moms CAN Do”.
Sometimes when I am scrolling through the thousand cable channels in search of something decent to watch, I land on the show called “Hoarders, Buried Alive”. As I watch the show, I find myself shaking my head in disgust and in disbelief that a person could actually live in such horrible conditions. Then my common sense and compassion button turns on and I acknowledge that hoarding is a mental health issue that often stems around a loss of some sort and the hoarder is trying to fill the void with stuff. (Disclaimer ... this is my uneducated hypothesis. I’m sure there’s more to it and therefore I leave it to the professionals.)
While I do not consider myself a hoarder, I do like my stuff … particularly when it comes to closet stuff. (I may even have a slight obsession with boots but that’s another story for another blog). The truth is we ALL have stuff that we love and stuff that we want. And we definitely live in a country where stuff is readily available to us at any given moment. Thanks to the internet, obtaining stuff is as easy as it gets. But we are never quite satisfied with our stuff and so we continue with this craziness of buying and obtaining more.
You are probably thinking that Kangaroo Jane was written based on my obsession with boots and other stuff. Not so. You see, one of the things I love about children’s books is discovering something you wouldn’t normally expect … something that captures and sparks the imagination of the child. And such was the thought behind the kangaroo illustration as I wrote Hazel the Hippo. I want children to read my books and discover other characters through the illustrations. Adding a kangaroo with fun stuff in her pouch was sure to capture the attention and imagination of little readers.
I saw this quote one day while scrolling through social media … “the best things in life are not things to be had.” As soon as I read it, I knew that I had a story for Kangaroo Jane. This sweet kangaroo spends her days filling her pouch with objects but discovers while her pouch is full, her heart is not. I love her story and in some ways we can all relate to Kangaroo Jane’s plight. Stuff is stuff, this much is true. But at the end of the day, it’s just stuff. It's not what fills our heart.
There’s a great scripture passage located in the book of Matthew. It says “Do not gather for yourself riches on earth … instead gather for yourselves riches in heaven…your heart will be where your riches are.” Find what fills your heart and you will never be wanting for more. And that, my friends, is Kangaroo Jane's story.
Thank you for reading Kangaroo Jane to your little people - I hope you love her as much as I do ... and remember ... "the best things in life are not things to be had."
Staci J. Allen has more than 15 years of experience teaching and working with preschoolers. She currently serves as the Director of Caring Ministries at The Summit Church. Staci and her husband Rick live in Lee's Summit, Missouri, and enjoy spending time with their adult children and grandchildren.