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He was listening

A unique thank-you note reminds a mom that her son was listening.

IT WAS UNEXPECTED—the note in February from my 22-year-old college senior son. He admitted that it was a bit late.

It was a thank-you note for his Christmas presents. The note was sweet, but the thing that stood out was what he had included. Tucked into the envelope were two carefully cleaned and folded butter wrappers. He explained that the butter factory where he worked was creating its own line of butter and was including words of wisdom on each wrapper. The phrases reminded him of me because “if he had heard me say these phrases once, he had heard them a million times.”

Now part of me thought he may have exaggerated a bit about the million times, but what did hit me was that he was listening.

This is my firstborn. My redheaded “active-always-busy-and-always-into-everything” son. From the day he was born the look on his face asked, “Are you sure you know what you are doing here, Mama?” It was for this child the phrase “Look with your eyes, not with your fingers” was stated . . . again and again. This was the boy who always had questions: “Why, Mama, why?” And before I could fully answer one question, he was off on another project, plan, or scheme. And yet, it seems, he was listening.

The butter wrappers got me thinking: I wonder what else he was listening to.

He tells me that when he hears certain popular songs they are the soundtrack of his childhood. Not only did we listen to a lot of music when he was very little, but we also would sit in the rocking chair and sing the same songs over and over again. “I am Jesus’ Little Lamb” was a particular favorite. He always wanted to be the one to shout “Happy!” during that third stanza. To this day, the whole family pauses and looks at him when we sing that song.

Every night, when that golden hour of bedtime finally arrived, he was tucked into bed with hugs and kisses and love and prayers. “Jesus, Savior, wash away all that has been wrong today. Help me every day to be good and gentle, more like thee.” Not only did I need these words of love and forgiveness for my shortcomings as a mom, but I also wrapped my little boy in this sweet benediction. And he was listening.

Getting to be a mom is my favorite thing in the whole world. Raising four unique children and teaching them as much as I could in the short amount of time I had them before they flew off into the world to make decisions and choices on their own has been the greatest joy of my life. The time went by way too quickly. “Enjoy them while you can,” the wise women in my life had advised me. “The days may be long, but the years are short.”

Are there some things I wish I could go back and do differently? Definitely. But looking back, the one thing I would not change was the constant repetition that framed his childhood. Those simple butter wrappers reminded me: He was listening.

What phrases did your mom repeat? Which ones do you treasure still today? Submit your stories to

Author: Pamela K. Holz
Volume 107, Number 05
Issue: May 2020

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